Video Production 101: Making a Movie with Kdenlive

With an inexpensive camera and a Linux system, you can be producer, director, editor and even the grip of your next blockbuster.
Notes for Fellow Novices

I'm definitely an amateur in the video domain, but I'm having a lot of fun learning about it. I've benefited from the advice and suggestions from many people far more knowledgeable, so in keeping with the spirit of sharing helpful information, I've assembled the following notes in the hope that they might benefit other newcomers.

First, take the time to learn about your hardware. You need to know exactly what to expect from it during and after the shoot. Buy an extra battery and keep it charged. Buy a good stand and extra tapes.

On the set, set up your shoot carefully and take extra care for camera position and lighting. Record your audio and video at the highest quality your camera allows. Record your audio at a strong level, but avoid clipping. Normalize audio only as a last resort. Bear in mind that normalization raises the level of the noise floor along with all other sound in the normalized track.

Be generous when transferring your video from camera to computer. Approximately 13GB of storage space is required for 60 minutes of DV-formatted video, but massive storage is cheap these days. Restrict your edits to simple functions. Avoid fancy transitions and don't get distracted by effects. Yes, effects are great fun, but unless they truly add something to the final product they are best left for another project.

Know your target destination (disc, stream, file), and format your rendering options accordingly. Two passes are better than one, but life is short. Do what you can with the time you have, then move on.

The Wrap

I felt that I had done my homework, that I had made my choices as wisely as possible. Nevertheless, I was a newbie at video production, and I expected surprises. As my work progressed, I was surprised indeed, but only at how easily the entire process flowed along. My hardware behaved as expected, Linux provided the necessary low-level support, and the applications software worked without troubles throughout the process.

Kdenlive was a special pleasure. I had no problems with its interface, and its tools and utilities were easy to learn and apply. Since my first project, I've learned more about Kdenlive, and I continue to work with it as my primary video production software. There's far more to the program than the few features presented in this article, so if you're interested in affordable video production with Linux, be sure to check out Kdenlive.

I hope you've enjoyed this little introduction to amateur video production with Linux. I've had a lot of fun making my own movies with my little setup, and I hope to improve its capabilities in the future. It may be some time before I can afford a better camcorder, but in the meanwhile, I can look forward to new releases of Kdenlive to keep me busy.

Dave Phillips has been using Linux for sound and music since 1995. He is one of the original founders of the Linux Audio Developers/Users groups and has been the maintainer of for more than ten years. He is the author of The Book Of Linux Music & Sound and has written many sound-related articles for various Linux publications. His other activities include playing in a blues band, reading Latin literature, playing with his shar-pei Maximus and spending time with his beloved Ivy. You can hear Dave's music at


Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.


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Dave Phillips's picture

Since this article was published Kdenlive has reached version 0.7.8 and is better than ever. Also, if anyone would like to view some of the performers from the shows, here are a couple of links :

Sam Strathman plays Little Wing :

Paige Trafton sings Big Black Horse :

Best regards,

Dave Phillips

Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

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