Open Source Video Editing

There are many good video editors on the market and many of you no doubt have your favorite. If you're a Macintosh user you probably are familiar with i-Movie and it's a great product. It ships with every new Macintosh. On the Microsoft Windows side of the house there is Windows Movie Maker. Both products allow you to connect a DV camera to your desktop or laptop equipped with a Firewire port and download your home video into your computer and do some desktop editing and in some cases produce a DVD or a video stream that can be uploaded to Google Video, YouTube or some other video streaming site. I've used both i-Movie and Windows Movie Maker and they are both great products. I've also used Pinnacle 9 and Pinnacle 10 on Windows and produced both DVDs, MPEG, AVI, and Windows Media files for playback on the local area network, the company webserver or from one of the internet video sites.

What about the Linux user? Is there a comparable product that can allow a Linux desktop user to edit and produce video. There is and it's called Kino. Kino is a non-linear digital video editor for Gnu/Linux and it's a very good product. I've used it on Fedora, Centos and most recently Ubuntu. It captures video in RawDV and AVI format in both Type 1 and Type 2 DV. It can export in a large number of formats including Raw DV, DV AVI, still frames, WAV, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. It can import and export still frames. I prefer it to the commercial products I've used because of the formats it can export. My use of Kino has been primarily for home video. This summer I discovered that Kino offers an integrated video publishing interface to the Blip TV video site.

My primary work machine at home is a Dell Inspiron 6400, CentrinoDuo with 1 gigabyte of RAM running Ubuntu 7.10. My video camera is a Canon ZR200. I am connected to my Ubuntu notebook with a 3 foot 1394 cable that I purchased at Wal-Mart. If Kino is not installed already on Ubuntu it's easy to install with the Synaptic package manager or by using Advanced Package Tool (Apt). If you're using another version of Linux you'll have to follow the guidelines for that distribution. Your Linux kernel must support 1394 input/output and that is the case with Ubuntu 7.10. For a complete list of required software visit the Kino website at If you expect to export to MPEG you'll need to load “ffmpeg” and “mjpegtools.” Probably the most difficult part in using Kino is getting Ubuntu or any Linux to give you write access to the 1394 port. In my own case, I start the notebook, with the camera powered on and connected by 1394 cable to the notebook or desktop. Then I open a terminal window and enter the following command at the prompt “sudo chown “owner” /dev/raw1394” where owner is your username. You must be able to read/write to the device. I logout then log back in and launch Kino from “Applications-->Sound & Video-->Kino”.

After Kino is launched, go to the “Edit menu” and select “Preferences”. Kino Preferences are listed as tabs across the top. On first tab accept the “Defaults.” On the second tab, you can specify where the capture file will be written and what the type is. Take the defaults. On the third tab if you've actually got read/write access on “/dev/raw1394” you'll see your camera listed on the “AV/C device.” Accept the rest of the default settings and then click “Okay.” You will be back at the Main Screen of the Kino video editor. At the far right, select “Capture” and then use the DVD/VCR controls at the bottom to begin the tape play. Just above those controls you'll notice a button labeled “Capture”. Capture as much of your video as you deem necessary and then “Stop” the capture. At this point click on “Edit” and you should see your video clips on the storyboard to the left. At the far left of the storyboard you will notice an arrow point to the right. Click on it and you have an opportunity to add title, author, copyright and other information. Now your ready to export to stills or DV, AVI, and MPEG. One of the nice features of Kino is the opportunity to save to a SMIL format that you can later edit. One of the options is to publish the SMIL to You will need to create an account at and once that is done your edited DV file is converted to an Ogg file format and you can upload it to and send your friends the URL or embed it in your blog.

You can elect to export your creation to MPEG and then using QDVDAuthor you can create a DVD of your video. You can also upload the MPEG or AVI to Google Video or YouTube. Kino is a very powerful and useful editor and now you can use Ubuntu or any other Linux platform as a video editor. I have included a link to one of the videos I produced this summer with my Canon ZR200 camera and Kino. Here is the video.

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