Linux Video Production: the State of the Art

From box-office hits to home movies, Linux is ready, set, action.

Using your editing program, print the video back to the format that will result in the fewest possible compression passes. If your originating medium was DV and you've done everything properly to this point, that should mean you have a total of one recompression on your footage and you can go out to a DV deck with little noticeable generation loss. Even better, take your multiplexed file and back it up, un-recompressed, to a tape or optical backup system.


Once you've multiplexed, you can use QDVDAuthor (see my article in the December 2005 issue) to author a well-tricked-out DVD for delivery to your friends and/or customers. Or, you can use one of the variety of front ends for mencoder, mjpegtools, or FFmpeg to compress your video for Web delivery or storage on your home machine. Kino includes such a front end, and other good ones include kencoder, konverter and Gmencoder. Whether to DVD or VHS or for Web delivery, this is the end point of the pipeline.

So, in short, it is now possible, with a little work, to get a competent and usable end-to-end video production studio working in your home or business, running solely on Linux. The few holes left in the pipeline, particularly in the compositing arena, are quickly being filled in and should be in much better shape by mid-year. We're on the cusp of a breakout year in the media creation field.

During the next few months, I'll be focusing specifically on potential problems in this pipeline, and keep you updated on new developments in both hardware and software. Take heart, fellow producer. There is now a video-production oasis in the open-source desert.



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A new actor on the stage...

Kdenlive's picture

The readers may also have a look at Kdenlive a fresh MLT based video editor for KDE which is so easy to use and fast...


Anonymous's picture

Your review is incomplete - you don't even mention LiVES:


Nickowen's picture

Thanks for a great article. I've been trying to ditch windows for quite a while now, but the big stumbling block has been video editing. The first program I tried was Kino, but due to a lack of tutorials and a confusing interface I lost interest. Next came Cinelerra, I had a lot more luck with this program, but the final render left a lot to be desired. The program I'm trying at the moment is Lives, this seems to convert all my clips to image sequences and as a result is very slow. All I need is a program that joins all the video clips together and is capable of putting a simple fade between them.

Quick fact check...

Anonymous's picture

Actually...and speaking as a filmmaker here...Linux is a valuable part of the workflow in movie production, but its not the only OS (or even the primary OS in a lot of cases) floating around independent and Hollywood movie studios. Linux is best used in render farms, as it is a cheap and reliable means of pulling together a lot of processing horsepower to deal with the massive amount of data behind the thousand of frames in every film. But, your introduction is still a little misleading.

That said, thanks for the great breakdown of the movie editing software available for Linux. Personally, I think Kino has the brightest future for home users, and I sincerely hope it finds its way to other platforms. A Quartz version of Kino on OS X with an improved interface and Quicktime and CoreAudio under the hood would be sweet. (And, no, Quicktime for Linux is not the same.)

adding sound to mpegs

kgoess's picture

Great article, but somehow you managed to not answer the one question I've had on the subject for over a year.

My six-year-old and I have had great fun making stop-action movies using mpeg2encode and the Gimp ('convert *.jpg movie.mpeg'), but I've never been able to find a free way to add sound to the resulting mpeg.

You explicitly skipped talking about the audio pipeline part, and I haven't seen Dave Philips answer that particular question yet. Do you know of a simple (and command-line?) way to add sound to an mpeg video?

Asuming you got a sound file

Slawek's picture

Asuming you got a sound file in proper format (that is mpeg2 or ac3) you need use mplex. To editing sound you can use audiacity, encoding to mpeg or ac3: ffmpeg


fel3232's picture

how does ffmpeg work? thanks, I'll bookmark