Three free editors

Discussion in 'SJ7 Star' started by RBEmerson, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    For anyone wanting to go beyond just filling chips, here are three free editors I've used recently. All of them are supported in Linux as well as Win10 and (maybe - no first hand knowledge) and MacOS. Assume all of this is under IMHO or maybe IMNSHO.

    All of these editors are Non-Linear Editors. The user can leap around in the timeline as the user sees fit. Every editor has its oddities about what keyboard shortcuts do what. There are also assumptions about loading files, saving projects, and more, and more details. Each editor needs a different work flow - getting from raw footage to a finished video. Switching between editors can create some interesting work flow interactions. All of the editors will require lots of practice time, and a willingness to discard hours of work.

    None of these editors, out of the box, do "exploding elephants spinning through space, changing colors as the pieces fly across the screen" titles. Most of the time "Keep It Simple, Stupid" applies. There are a number options to produce good, eye-catching, interesting intro/outro effects without resorting to the exploding elephants.

    Editing takes computer horsepower and superior graphics support. Forget editing on a email/browser tablet. Expect to pay for a high-end processor, lots of RAM, at least a 1Tb hard drive, and a high-end graphics card. Yes, editing can be done on lesser machines, but it becomes harder and more frustrating as the machine specs fall off. "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?"

    KDEnlive came to Win10 from the Linux KDE desktop environment. The user interface is chunky and a little quirky but it's not totally obscure. The usual cursor and playback window in the work space. The effects options are difficult for two reasons. Special packages have to be installed separately. Both of them are free, but take a modest bit of experience to install correctly. The second problem is the vast range of options have mostly incomprehensible names. The do wonderful things, but which option does what takes time googling the name and/or experimentation. Even on a moderately fast machine, playback is slow, jerky, and unreliable.

    Overall rating: recommended for anyone wanting a challenge.

    Shotcut (no "r" in the name - Googling on it means having to by-pass searches with "shortcut") is a step up in reliability, and more likely to have a good playback rate. The user interface is better than KDEnlive's. There are some parts that need a little practice to understand, but the UI woks. Most of the options for transitions, image manipulation, etc. are easier to understand. Shotcut gets into deep trouble with titling - it can't really do it.

    There are two modes of operation: processing with or without the computer's Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) or not. The GPU is, in part, "the graphics card. The problem with titling is: with GPU processing (faster!), static titles aren't supported, period. Spinning 3D lettering is (no elephants, though). Turn off the GPU (slower!) and static titling is available but not the spinning 3D lettering (not a great loss).

    Audio processing is difficult when going beyond adding sound clips as needed. There is no mixer, no way to ramp volume up and down (only THIS LOUD or not). I usually have Shotcut export ("render") the audio tracks, edit and process as needed in Audacity (also free), export the results, and put that back into Shotcut as one long audio track. It's not very smooth, and there's little hope for editing sound to exactly the right frame in the video clips.

    Shotcut can crash. It does it too often for my liking. Save the work regularly, although Shotcut does have a "recover the current project" option at (re-)start up. The wise editor save's projects at every possible point. Spending half an hour to position a cut and transition "just so" only to lose it a crash is... not fun.

    There are some other major omissions, notably, key framing, which may or may not show up in a later version. There are frequent updates. There is an active user forum. The developers participate.

    I've produced complete videos with Shotcut. I've produced videos that need to be run through a second editor to bring the video to where I want the finished product to be.

    Overall rating: not bad, but it has its problems.

    Blackmagic Designs Resolve is what the pros use. Pros as in you've probably seen several large screen, Hollywood movies processed through Resolve. It has features and capabilities that are astounding. The good news is that it can also be used as a fairly simple NLE. The work flow is easy to master. Working with complex numbers of video and audio clips is well supported. None of this is a surprise when taking into account "time is money" in Hollywood; the faster the editing process, the less money spent.

    Playback rates can be a problem for mid-range PC's and certainly for low-end PC's. Remember this is an editor with pro budgets.

    Titling, static and "crawls" or scrolling are present out of the box. Any font in the PC is available to Resolve. Effects (shadows, backgrounds, transparency, etc.) are all present. (Shotcut doesn't do crawls except by importing external HTML code - very, very ugly) Fade in for video and audio are right in the tracks. Audio mixing with a virtual console? It's there - no automatic, cue-driven mixing, though. Resolve supports external consoles with all of this, though. Color adjustment? The range of options, down to changing the color of a coat on a snowboarder. All of this takes time to learn (and watching Casey Faris' great YT videos!).

    Where Resolve has problems for amateur, YT producers is in the effects. There are several transition effects (cross-fade, clock wipe, etc.) but some things are missing. The same is true for audio. The user is expected to buy additional effects as needed. The basics, though, are adequate for YT and indie work.

    Life with BMD is... not always fun. Anyone with free Resolve is, of course, a second class citizen. Anyone who buys the pro version (down to $299 from four figures - don't know why this happened) is, of course, accorded full rights. The forum has a strange rule: you must sign in with a real name. Showing up claiming to be David Wark Griffith or Sergei Eisenstein will probably be tossed out with an angry email. "We want everybody to be on a first name basis so we're having a good experience in the forum." Developers show up and may or may not start or finish support on a problem. Most users are sociable and usually helpful. It's the usual Internet forum experience.

    There are two versions of Resolve: 12.5.6 and 14.0.1. 12.5.6 will not under under Linux. 14.0.1 mostly will. Except
    Resolve requires a BMD audio card to output audio. There is no way around this.

    For me, 12.5.6 stopped working after Microsoft did an update to Win10. It may work under Win7. Or not. Resolve 14.0.1 works under Win10, but needs Horsepower. Much as I liked 12.5.6 when it worked, 14.0.1 isn't very good on playback. I can use it to edit a video, but I have to render it in a format (lots of options here) Shotcut (my Plan B) can use.

    Overall rating: The potential is astounding. The end product is can be pro-grade. I'm playing the lottery in hopes I can buy the PC needed to get Resolve flying.

    There are other editors. Some are a cut above editing tape and 8mm film. Some do exploding elephants. Some cost money. The three editors above are worth trying (even KDEnlive - there is support for it). One or more may work. None of them may work. The only way to know for sure is try them.

    - - - -

    Editing takes skill. Look at videos and movies with an "what do I like here and why, why don't I like what I see here" eye. When doing a how-to about anything, SCRIPT, SCRIPT, SCRIPT!!! That includes camera, audio, and what the talent says. "Um, so like guys, I'm gonna show yous how to tip an effin' cow over into an effin' swimmin' pool. Ain't that effin' sick". Put this person on exploding elephant like it happened yesterday.

    Editing is writing a book. Think about where the piece begins, how it moves along, and where it ends. Whether it's how to change and SJ7 camera battery or showing a trip to the beach, there's a front, middle, and back. There's a reason why the video exists. Get that across, be interesting (cheerful, angry, sad - it has to hold the viewer), and don't let the production (script, shooting, audio, editing) get in the way of the story.
     
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  2. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    To this I'll add Hitfilm Express for Windows - professional grade and a free version available.

    In addition to Resolve, DaVinci produce an effects package called Fusion which also has a free community edition. Some functions (such as optical flow retiming) aren't available in the free version.

    As I Linux user I have to point out another major limitation of Resolve on Linux - it won't import MP4 files. This means that if you are using it on Linux you need to use something like ffmpeg to transcode video to an intermediary format and then (possible) transcode the final render back to MP4 - alot more hassle if you're just starting.

    Lightworks provide a free version for Windows, Linux and OS-X however the big limit for this is that you can only output 720 video. It is light on effects when installed but has a host of free effects and transitions available through their user forum.

    Blender also provides a cross platform NLVE on Windows, OS-X and Linux. It's a 3D modelling platform but does include a video sequence editor - looks to be rather basic at first but as Blender also contains a full node based compositor as well as masking and motion tracking it adds up to something powerfull - but can be a bit of a learning curve.
     
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  3. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    BMD's refusal to support MP4 under Linux is another example of the joy of dealing with BMD. Are rules are what we say they are. If you don't like them, take a jump. That includes having to buy a video/audio card ($149 minimum) to get any audio out.

    14.0.n seems to overlap Fusion. Or not. Not working in a community setting, I'm not sure about that.

    Limiting rendering to 720 is... ill-advised.
     
  4. Abhijit Gadhave

    Abhijit Gadhave New Member

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    Very good guidance, thank you
     
  5. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    You're welcome.

    There are other free editors. I listed the ones I've used.
     

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