Video editing in Linux?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004.

  1. Does anyone have any experience editing video in Linux? From my brief
    searches on Google, it looks like Linux might well be a serious competitor
    to traditional desktop video editing OSes. Linux now has Firewire support as
    well as some awesome looking (and free) software like Cinerella and Cine
    Paint (AKA Film Gimp).

    So, can I dump Premiere Pro on WinXP and move entirely to Linux?

    I know that Linux can be a pain to administer. In fact it's pretty damn ugly
    in places.

    I've been brought up on Windows but I'm very eager to learn about the pros
    and cons of using Linux for my video production. I've read many press
    releases from the likes of DreamWorks, ILM and Pixar all saying that they're
    running Linux on their workstations and render farms and a lot of recently
    released software for running grading / compositing software runs on Linux.
    And there are some impressive open-source and free film applications like
    Film Gimp and Cinerella. And real hot-shots contribute code to Film Gimp
    (like Dreamworks and ILM). And, of course, there are the disadvantages of
    Linux: the time spent administering the OS, the relatively poor support for
    video applications etc.

    An important issue is: do you want to spend your life tinkering with
    technology or do you want to make movies? On the surface this looks like a
    fatal problem for Linux: administering Linux WILL take time away from

    However, if you're in the early stages of setting up a production company
    with four people who will need editing workstations, then the cost of having
    Windows XP + Premiere Pro (or Avid XPress) for 4+ computers starts to
    approach £2000. And guess what else we can do with £2000? Make a decent
    short film. So using Linux can *increase* your productivity as a filmmaker
    (and don't forget that the cost of Windows is not one-off... you need to pay
    for upgrades over the years).

    All in all I think the only rational way for me to reach a conclusion is to
    install Cinerella and Film Gimp on my new workstation (which'll be AMD64 so
    only Linux will make full use of the processor). Of course, I'll dual-boot
    with XP for now.

    But, before I do that, please may I ask for your views and opinions on the
    use of Linux as a digital video editing environment?

    Thanks a lot,

    Daniel Kelly

    Nickname = Jack
    Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004
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  2. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    darren Guest

    I've heard a lot of good people in several Groups recommend kdenlive.
    Cinelerra is supposed to be half decent, too.
    Depends which distro you choose. Mandrake holds a new users hand pretty

    Introducing OSS in any form is usually a good thing from many points of
    view :)
    Dual boot is the way to go. Don't deprive yourself of something that is
    childs play on Windows, but do try to learn the Linux/Open Source way
    meantime. The Linux way tends to be the correct way, producing work to
    recognised standards, but ease may suffer along the way. Over time, you
    will find yourself booting into Windows less and less.
    As I said, give kdenlive a whirl as well as Cinelerra. If you need to do
    any accompanying audio editing, try Audacity.
    darren, Oct 26, 2004
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  3. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Paul Sherwin Guest

    It all depends what you want to do. Linux is basically Unix and is
    administered in the same way. This can make initial configuration
    difficult for people who only have a Windows desktop background.
    However, once you have all your apps installed and working there's
    much less day to day administration to be done, because Linux is
    inherently more secure than most Windows setups. If you think the
    video apps are good, it's worth doing an installation of something
    newbie friendly like Mandrake or Suse and playing around with it -
    it'll only cost you your time.

    HTH, Paul
    Paul Sherwin, Oct 26, 2004
  4. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <cll9hj$1000$>, "Daniel Kelly (AKA Jack)"

    This sort of question has been asked before, though mainly by folk
    running Linux on a home computer. I can't remember the exact
    conclusions, but there is a sparsity of video editing software for
    Linux. In fact there isn't a vast choice for the Mac (certainly far less
    than for Windoze)..

    IIRC those who wanted to keep Linux decided to dual-boot their system.
    That leaves the door open.

    I can't speak for Premiere (the last version I used was 6.5 which didn't
    support shared/network working), but Vegas 5 goes some way towards
    "shared working". AFAIR Vegas also allows (officially) its installation
    on up to three machines and provides "workflow" mechanisms for an
    editing studio environment - though I haven't explored this aspect of

    Bearing in mind that for a professional environment, you're not only
    going to have to invest in machines with a bit of clout, software, SCSI
    Raid HDDs, plus dual monitors, you seem to be talking near-on £2000 per
    workstation. So your budget seems a little sparse I'm afraid.

    Assuming that you're in a Windoze environment then I can't see any
    advantage in running server-client. You'd probably be OK with judicious
    set-up of shares.

    But as I've pointed out, I have no actual experience in this direction
    and I'm basing my views on what has been said here in the past.
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  5. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, darren <>
    For professionals, time is money. Trying this and trying that (while
    being very interesting) is not commercial and likely to end in tears
    IMHO. Even after costing out the learning curves, it takes time (aka
    money) to get the workflow environment sorted out.

    And at £2K (or more) per workstation, you've got to ensure that you're
    going to get a ROI. Ditto with the cost of staff getting up to speed.
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  6. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    ray Guest

    This is mostly MS FUD. I worked for the U.S. Defense Department for 30
    years, doing scientific software support and development. During the last
    3 or 4 years, I was also doing the Linux administration as a part time
    function, and it was my observation that it was a lot less demanding than
    the full time job administring the MS office systems. Linux is much easier
    to administer - for one thing no viruses or worms to speak of, which is a
    major concern for any MS system with internet access. Mostly, you install
    Linux and it runs.
    ray, Oct 26, 2004
  7. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    ray Guest

    Point taken. It would be a good idea to detail one capable person to do a
    prototype system, and see how that works out.
    ray, Oct 26, 2004
  8. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    J.O. Aho Guest

    Yes, it's a cost to test things out, that may be why companies buys complete
    solutions from say RedHat. I know that many small film companies has moved
    over to linux to make special effects and edit movies, but sadly I don't know
    the names of the software, which may even be commercials.

    J.O. Aho, Oct 26, 2004
  9. This is all true... I was hoping to teach myself Linux and Linux editing in
    my own time... and then start to do paid jobs on Linux in a year's time or
    Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004
  10. Point taken. It would be a good idea to detail one capable person to do a
    Exactly what I'm planing to do - thanks.
    Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004
  11. OK, thanks loads for your reply.

    Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004
  12. Cool, thanks a lot for your reply.


    Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\), Oct 26, 2004
  13. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    I'd suggest it's a bit more (and more fundamental) than that. Add up all
    the setup costs - software/hardware/training/initial promotion [1].
    Distribute that over (say) 12 months. Then add up the monthly ongoing
    costs to that - salaries/advertising/lease of
    premises/lighting/heating/telephone/consumables. You've also got to
    factor in the cost of servicing the capital outlay of [1] (aka bank
    interest). And perhaps remember that if you already have the capital to
    hand, it would otherwise be earning interest if invested, so you *must*
    factor it in. You've now got a cost per month before *any* return -
    that's what you've got to bring in *just to break even* without *any*
    profit whatsoever.

    Salaries have to also be factored by 52/46 (to account for annual/bank
    holidays - you still have to pay staff even when they aren't actually
    doing work). And in the UK at least, you also have to factor in
    employer's National Insurance contributions (about 10% of salaries) and
    that's over the whole 52 weeks.

    Obviously your choice of applications will affect the setup costs, and
    will make an impact on your setup costs, but as you can see there's far
    more to it than that.

    I'd also suggest that a prototype system does not necessarily relate to
    the cost/benefits when translated to a 4-up video editing enterprise
    when workflows will have a significant impact.

    Personally (and it *is* only my view) I think that Jack should abandon
    thoughts about Linux and go "mainstream" - he'd be much less likely to
    encounter unforeseen problems that could bring the whole enterprise
    crashing about his ears (and pocket) :)
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  14. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In which case, Jack, don't you think it better to run Linux on your home
    computer, and when you feel you're beginning to get up to speed, invest
    in a formal course (perhaps gaining a formal Linux certification). All
    assuming that you're currently in a nine-to-five job.

    IME there's only one area where Linux is a "de facto" core
    infrastructure, and that's in Web delivery in association with

    Doing Video Editing on Linux as a minority of one doesn't seem to me to
    be a very good idea. You're unlikely to source any sort of peer-support
    and are likely to spend all your time chasing your tail solving your own
    problems on your own (again at a cost to any commercial aspirations)..

    Sorry to be negative - but I prefer to call it pragmatism :)

    Since I see you're in the UK, to get your head around Linux with the aim
    of job aspirations, I'd suggest that you combine it with Apache, PHP and
    MySQL [1]. If you also sign up for a broadband account with Zen with 8
    static IPs you can also start getting revenue as you go.

    [1] I'd recommend SOKKIT.

    Anyway - sorry all - I've now drifted off Video Editing enterprise. So
    I'll shut up :)
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  15. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    J.O. Aho Guest

    I must disagree with you here, IMHO it's bad to assume that everyone are
    already skilled in using the software what the company already have, there are
    more than one software even for MSWin that can be used, so there may be costs
    to train the staff anyway, and don't forget when a software is updated, it may
    change quite a lot, which makes the staff to need retraining and so on.

    Then we have the licens cost of the software to use, those are usually per
    machine and not that cheap, which can make that the usage of the MSWin based
    system would be a lot more than change to a *nix based system with new
    software and pay the training and sallery without a product for a month.

    Filesystems used in MSWin aren't really up to for a good preformance for
    video, where *nix based systems can handle filesystems which are better made
    for videostreams and the storage setup have many major features that is
    missing in the MSWin world.

    In this case it can be good to learn to use both GNU/Linux and MSWin based
    applications, this will be to more of an advantige than those who do only
    learn MSWin based software, now when studios have started to move over to
    cheap solution provided for GNU/Linux systems.

    J.O. Aho, Oct 26, 2004
  16. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, J.O. Aho <>

    While I hear (and can sympathise with) all the points you've made, the
    simple fact is that at this time (and AFAICS in the foreseeable future)
    going the Linux route in video NLE is a route for commercial disaster,
    though beavering away in your attic SOHO with a Linux environment may be
    very intellectually satisfying

    And perhaps the most significant aspect (especially for Jack) is that
    the amount of peer-support that is freely available with Windoze
    applications like Premiere, Vegas and even Avid makes it a no-contest.

    While those with exposure to Linux will with absolute justification rate
    it far, far better than Windoze as an OS platform, we should perhaps be
    asking why 97% of all corporates embrace MS Office as their office
    automation solution of choice - and this where the cost is significantly
    higher than Linux solutions. As IBM used to say "50 million people can't
    be wrong" :)
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  17. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    In message <>, Tony Morgan
    Sorry, Sokkit is really an Apache/PHP/MySQL for Windoze environments,
    though I believe there is a Linux distro.
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
  18. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    ray Guest

    Points: I've never seen software where 'peer-support' was really worth

    At some point they'll have to upgrade their Windows version, and at that
    point, that upgrade will cost more than switching to Linux, with all the
    factors you've previously mentioned included. The only reason corporations
    stick with MS is INERTIA. BTW perhaps you've heard of Munich. I'll
    paraphrase your IBM quote by saying, in my experience, (and I could offer
    many examples including Ford Explorer) "50 million people are rarely
    ray, Oct 26, 2004
  19. Among the wreckage we found a fragment on which Daniel Kelly (AKA Jack)
    had scratched:
    If anything it's the other way around. I tend to do a bit of sysadmin
    stuff when I set up a new box, and then it just runs until it wears out.
    Robert Billing, Oct 26, 2004
  20. Daniel Kelly \(AKA Jack\)

    Tony Morgan Guest

    And I'd point you to the Vegas support forums. And you'll also find
    there Vegas staffers who invariably step in where a problem solution is
    not forthcoming. Though with Vegas there's so much there that isn't
    immediately visible (to make it easier to get rolling, there's a great
    deal of depth there and often a query is "I wish..." rather than a
    problem (since Vegas is quite well behaved), and there's someone there
    to walk-you-through.

    It's a while since I used Premiere (and then not for long) and I recall
    that the peer support forums were very useful, though Premiere is a bit
    bitty depending on having the right plug-ins for the more esoteric

    And (since there's a lot of references here to Linux) IME the Linux
    forums will sort most problems out.
    Tony Morgan, Oct 26, 2004
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