Studio DV, Open Octave, And More

Recently I profiled the latest LiVES video editing system, and in that article I mentioned that I intended to buy a camcorder for use with LiVES and other video editing software. Since then I purchased a Samsung SC-D382 midiDV recorder. Studio Dave is now on its way to becoming Studio DV.

IEEE1394 Support In LiVES And Kino

My JAD box includes an integrated standard 6-pin IEEE1394 port. The camcorder takes a 4-pin connector. I bought an overpriced cable from Staples, hooked it up to the camera and the computer, then I fired up LiVES. I was pleased to discover that the FireWire interface worked perfectly out of the box. I loaded no drivers and made no adjustments to any configuration files. I plugged things in, turned on the camera, selected the Import From Device dialog from the File menu, and everything just worked. Sweet.

The Import From Device dialog includes a transport control panel (Figure 1). With the panel controls I can operate the camcorder to play a recording through its viewing window and grab any or all of the video to LiVES during playback. The resulting DV files can be loaded into LiVES or any other DV-capable video editor for further editing and processing.

Figure 1. The LiVES Import From Device dialog

Kino (Figure 2) goes further in its FireWire support. With that program I can send video back to the camcorder, a pretty cool feature when you want to show off your video work without lugging around your laptop.

Figure 2. Kino

Kino is a neat program, easy to learn and operate. but alas, I'm not going to dive any deeper into it for this article. For more hands-on information check out the excellent Linux Journal article Making Movies with Kino by Olexiy Tykhomyrov and Denis Tonkonog.

Incidentally, when I began my research into this project I discovered that camcorder prices have fallen dramatically over the past few years. One rather dated article on the Web mentioned that good camcorders had become cheap and were available for around $350US and that FireWire boards were available for roughly $50US. My, how the times have changed. My camera cost under $100, and I picked up a 4-port FireWire PCI board for $11. I needed the card for my 64-bit machine that has no IEEE1394 connector on its motherboard. I installed the board, rebooted, and behold, I have FireWire capability on that box too. As I reported in my revious review of LiVES, the program processes video at roughly twice the speed as it does on the 32-bit machine, so I'm a happy camcorder camper now.

The Open Octave Project

Alex Stone and Chris Cherrett share a vision. Both gentlemen compose music for orchestral ensembles, and both prefer to use Linux as their operating system. After assessing the state of Linux audio software Chris and Alex decided to leverage the power of a suite of programs specially selected for their aptness to the purpose of orchestral composition, arrangement, and recording. They've named this endeavor the Open Octave Project.

Thanks to the combination of open source code and the GPL they have begun to program a customized version of Rosegarden that will be integrated with the LinuxSampler and Denemo software to create a powerful environment for extended composition via standard notation with support for MIDI I/O. Rosegarden's default audio and notation capabilities have been removed from the program, and the project leaders intend to further customize Rosegarden's already formidable MIDI capabilities. Alex is already heavily involved with the LinuxSampler project, working with its developers to create amenities of particular interest to composers. He has also suggested improvements for the Denemo notation software, again for the purpose of streamlining a production workflow.

Open Octave is not a "one size fits all" kind of project. The team's intentions are specific and clear: They want to produce a powerful user-friendly environment for purposes specific to composers working in extended formats, so don't look for enhanced Flash support or much concern for other normal desktop audio amenities. However, if you write music for orchestral groups and similar ensembles you should consider joining the Open Octave project.


Interesting activities are always going on in the world of Linux audio development. Here's a sampling of recent news and current events.


On the morning of June 16 I learned that William Weston has released version 0.12.0 beta 3 of his marvelous PHASEX softsynth for Linux. I've reviewed PHASEX in a previous article, readers can consult that article for a more thorough overview of the synth's outstanding characteristics and capabilities. Notable improvements in the new version are too many to list here, so I'll instead refer readers to William's survey of new features in PHASEX. This synth is a powerful addition to your Linux audio armory, but don't believe me. Believe Ken Restivo, his Buzzy Signal and More PHASEX Madness show off the synth and Ken's formidable chops in equal measure.


Issue 11 of the Csound Journal is now on-line. It's another fine offering from the lights of the community, with articles on distortion synthesis techniques, integrating Csound with the Eclipse IDE, designing volume envelopes, using Processing with the csnd.jar Java library, and making dance beat patterns in blue. High praise again to James Hearon and Steven Yi for producing this consistently excellent journal.


As readers can tell from my review of Pianoteq I've become a great fan of its physically modeled keyboard instruments. In that article I noted that registered users can access some free and very fine add-on instruments, including some great reproductions of historical keyboards. The mavens at Modartt have recently uploaded a new item to the add-on collection, a Rock Piano (YC5) modeled on "a well-known Japanese grand piano". If you're a Pianoteq user you can download it now from the program's Web home.


Early in July Linux user Pedro Lopez-Cabanillas notified the Linux Audio Users mail list about the release of version 1.0 of VLC (Figure 3), a versatile multiformat media player. VLC has an impressive list of features, including support for a wide variety of input media and formats. Señor Lopez-Cabanillas noted that the latest release for Linux now supports the standard MIDI file (SMF), with rendering by the Fluidsynth soundfont playback engine. Thanks to this addition VLC now not only plays MIDI files, it can convert them to MP3, OGG, WAV, and other formats.

Figure 3. VLC

By the way, if you choose to build VLC yourself, be prepared for a lengthy session. The program is dependency-rich and wants a current Linux distribution. I expected that it might not build on my older Debian and OpenSUSE systems, and it didn't, but it also failed on Ubuntu 8.04. I succeeded on an Ubuntu 9.04 system, as seen in the screenshot.

And just for the sake of completeness I must mention that VLC can read from V4L (Video for Linux) and V4L2 devices, i.e. your webcam. Too cool.


That's it for this week's report. I hope you've enjoyed it, and I hope you'll check out some of the new things I've presented. More great things are on the way and I'm keeping an eye on them. I'll be back in another week or two, so until then, stay tuned and keep swinging.

Load Disqus comments