Video Production 101: Making a Movie with Kdenlive
By profession, I'm a music teacher. Four times a year, my students perform a show at a local coffeehouse called Coffee Amici. The room hosts regularly scheduled performers, open-mic nights and various community events. My students love to play there. It's a great opportunity for them to show their stuff for an attentive crowd, and eventually, they asked about the possibility of doing video recordings of the shows. I looked into the affordability of the requisite gear, the extent of Linux support for recommended hardware, and the availability of software that would help me produce a simple DVD from my recordings. I was happy to discover that the project was well within my price range and that my software choices included more than one adequate solution.
This article describes how I recorded a student show with an inexpensive camcorder and how I produced a movie from that footage with Kdenlive, a non-linear editor (NLE) for Linux. Kdenlive is a powerful program, but my project was simple, and the methods I describe here should be usable in other Linux NLEs.
First, I needed a video camera. My research and my budget led me to the Samsung SC-D382 miniDV camcorder (Figure 1). For about $100, I got a camera with a remote control, a DV interface (IEEE 1394, aka FireWire) and advanced settings that can be configured for a relatively good-quality recording. It's lightweight, and I found it easy to operate and control. Obviously, more money gets more camera, but I intended to keep expenses as low as possible without compromising the quality of the basic material.
By default, the camcorder produces video in an NTSC 4:3 display format, commonly associated with the square screen of a television in North America. The default audio setting appears to be with a sample rate of 32kHz with a resolution of 12 bits. The camera's advanced settings allow me to set the preferred display format to NTSC 16:9, also known as widescreen, and to increase the audio bit resolution to 16 bits. Alas, the audio sample rate is fixed, so CD-quality sound is not possible with the Samsung, a limitation I overlooked when purchasing the unit.
Of my two studio machines, only one has an integrated IEEE 1394 connection. I planned to use both boxes for video work, so I bought and installed an inexpensive PCI board that added three IEEE 1394 ports to my main machine. If you plan to make a connection with a FireWire-enabled camera, check for a port on your motherboard and make sure you have an available slot for an extension board if you need one. And by the way, even the cables need attention. FireWire cables have a variety of pin configurations, so be sure you have the right connectors on both ends of the cable. For example, my camcorder wants a 4-pin connector, and the ports on my machines require a 6-pin adapter.
I also bought a carrying case for the cameras and a good tripod with bubble levels and a variety of gizmos to position the camera in just about any direction. I've been especially happy with the tripod, and I advise anyone interested in amateur video recording to invest in a decent stand for your camera. Yes, you can solve a lot of problems in your edit stage, but you'll save time and energy if your basic material is centered correctly from a stable position.
I drew the line for my expense account at lighting. The camera provides autocorrection for lighting and focus, and my project didn't need a dedicated light system. I was ready to consider my software requirements.
I had two primary concerns on the software side. I needed to ensure that the kernel versions included the IEEE 1394 modules and that I would find a video editor user-friendly enough for a total newbie. The modules issue was non-problematic. My main box runs 64 Studio 2.1, a by-now old Debian-based system running on a 2.6.21 kernel compiled for 64-bit hardware and real-time operation, while my secondary 32-bit machine runs a more-modern Ubuntu Jaunty system with a 2.6.29 kernel optimized for real-time performance. Both systems provide the required modules—raw1394, ohci1394, ieee1394—all of which are autoloaded when the machines go through their hardware discovery during the boot process.
The process of finding the right video editor consisted of trying out the available NLEs for Linux to determine which one offered the most amenable work flow. During the process, I wrote a series of profiles on Linux NLEs that you can read at LinuxJournal.com. I worked on a simple project in each editor, and I found that more than one program could serve my purpose. I finally decided that Kdenlive (Figure 2) provided the tools I needed in a layout that was easy for me to understand and operate. For the project described in this article, I used Kdenlive 0.7.6, but since then, I've been building the program from the latest SVN codebase. By the time you read article, this minitutorial Kdenlive should be available in a shiny new version 0.7.7.
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Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide