All that is wrong with the world…

August 7, 2011

Linux – The worst platform for video editing

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 6:16 pm

Proponents of Linux often tend to misrepresent Linux as a leader in video editing. Whether this is intentional or just due to being misinformed, nothing could be further from the truth, with Linux potentially being one of the worst platforms for video editing. There are no decent software packages for editing video on Linux and it is one of many prime examples of why Linux is not anywhere ready to be a replacement for OS X or Windows on a large scale. The idea that Linux is the most popular platform for video editing seems to come from the fact that it is used on server farms to do 3D rendering. However, this is not video editing. For actually editing film, doing post-processing such as adding in sound, visual effects or even just playing with scenes there is no software on Linux that can do this reliably.

Often you’ll see people quoting statistics such as 95% of the computers in Hollywood are running linux or some crap. Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean Linux is being used as the platform that film is edited on. As it stands there are no decent video editing tools for Linux, or for any OSS platform. Kdenlive, PiTiVi, OpenShot, lives, Cinelerra and Kino have all been in development for many years ever languishing or forking. Either way at the moment there is not a single OSS video editor that provides anywhere near the functionality of say Final Cut Pro. Not only are all the available video editors lacking in basic functionality, many of them have horrendous stability issues, segfaulting when trying to import video for example.

Many people of bring up stuff like Maya or Pixar’s RenderMan, but ultimately this is 3D development software that’s use is not limited to film, at all. The fact that films can be made with such software is incidental and does nothing to detract from the point that there is no quality video editing software for Linux. This shouldn’t be surprising, as it is the nature of the beast. The way OSS works is that people develop out of personal motivation or because they are paid to. There are very few people working in video editing who are also programmers, so there is a lack of quality video editing OSS available. Until more people contribute or a company funds development, that’s how it will stay.

Hopefully this will help to dispel the propaganda that Linux is prominent in the film industry. It certainly is as far as CPU hours goes, since it is ideal for rendering. If you expect to see it being used by the people actually editing the films on desktops, then think again. Perhaps one day….probably before Linux gets decent audio applications at least. Also, this isn’t an anti_Linux article. It’s an anti-bullshit-propaganda article. Linux is great, no need to misrepresent what it is capable of or how it is used.

13 Comments »

  1. I think your title is somewhat misleading, since it implies that Linux can actually be used for video editing. It can not. So, it is not the worst platform for video editing any more than a q-tip is a bad platform for video editing. Linux simply can not be used (in any practical sense) for video editing.

    Comment by Terje — August 8, 2011 @ 3:14 am

    • Well to be fair, you can probably import a video and maybe delete a frame or two before the software segfaults…

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 10, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  2. Strange. I have been actively involved in a Linux user group for more than a decade and heard many people promoting Linux in various events and situations – sometimes with good, sometimes with less good arguments. However, I cannot remember any single time that anyone would have claimed Linux to be a leader in video editing. More often it has been mentioned that it is one of the shortcomings. Perhaps it’s different there in U.S.

    For people who are users of Linux and still want to try video editing, I can recommend these articles at LWN.net to get an overview of the alternatives:

    http://lwn.net/Articles/429039/
    http://lwn.net/Articles/262985/

    Arto

    Comment by Arto — August 9, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

    • It’s all too common on various forums, with people claiming Linux is the dominant platform in Hollywood. There even used to be websites to spread this propaganda, although they now appear to have wilted and died.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 10, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

  3. Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, and Apple Final Cut Pro are the only relevant professional video editing software.

    Historically, Avid has been the leader but recently FCP has match and possibly surpassed it’s usage.

    All three were supported earlier on Macs with FCP still being Mac only.

    Just for availability of software options, Macs have the advantage in professional video editing.

    I would be surprised if Macs are not the leading OS for professional video editing.

    Comment by Weird? — August 17, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

  4. sorry folks, all this is bullshit:
    1) linux was never ever well known for video editing
    2) in the lest 2 years the situtation became MUCH better, becuse with kdenlve and openshot there are new programs which can almost matxh AVID and FCP
    3) enjoy, its free!

    Comment by bureau — April 15, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    • Having attempted to use linux for the creation of a short animated film, I’ll have this to say :

      1. Linux was never really known for anything creative. Yes, it is open source, but frankly, that part matters mostly to people that can not only code, but that can code on the level that is needed to modify something. Most importantly, it is free, which is great, and which is what matters to the majority of people. Mind you, when I say anything creative, I mean creative software, with the (nowadays) possible exception of music creation. Drawing, graphics, video, animation… some people do use open source software, but tend to stick to the Windows versions (sadly).
      2. Yes, the situation has gotten much better… which unfortunately in itself is not much. Even the bundled movie maker in win xp/vista/7 is more stable than most NLE solutions (non linear editing, just in case) available for Linux. There is also the issue of usability. While I admire the coding prowess of people doing these open source projects, they are not so well versed in interface design. One example is Cinelerra : powerful as it may be, the interface is a nightmare sometimes. One thing though : Kdenlive and Openshot are not “almost” a match for Avid or FCP, NOT BY A LONG SHOT. They are ok for the most basic of video trimming and editing, but I would not use them for video production, not even on the consumer level.
      3. Free, yes, but I’d rather pay for something that works, open source or not.

      Sadly, after extensive use of several linux distros geared to audiovisual production, I’ll have to say that they are not ready yet. Don’t get me wrong, I still use linux as part of my production process. But unfortunately that part is the writing and scripting part, and its mostly because I know that while working on Linux I won’t be tempted to use other programs (because they are Windows only). I think the main deterrent for the creation of a linux NLE solution would be its dubious economic viability.

      Comment by bilan — May 3, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    • 1) I never claimed it was
      2) The situation is marginally better. Not much better.
      3) meh.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 11, 2012 @ 4:31 am

  5. this is just confused, there is a big difference between the way hollywood uses computers to make movies and the way you use a computer to edit home videos. Linux is the de-facto platform for renderfarms because it supports more processors than virtually all competitors, it sucks at video editing at home because nobody has written an application for video editing that doesn’t suck.
    http://www.linux-netbook.com/10-blockbusters-made-with-the-help-of-linux
    http://linux.slashdot.org/story/05/07/27/1551250/disney-dreamworks-pixar-go-linux

    Blender looks like it works.
    http://blog.rfquerin.org/2009/01/26/how-i-edit-videos-using-blender-maybe-part-one/

    Comment by cyphercell — November 9, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

    • How does your comment contradict or clarify my post? The whole post is about the difference between render farm and editing. Did you actually read it?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 11, 2012 @ 4:33 am

  6. I’ve used Kino and KDEnlive in the past for simple editing. Pulling together various video segments, trimming them and employing standard transitions (a to b fades) and adding sound (voice) and music tracks. These apps worked. Yes…I saved the projects often in case the apps crashed. Kino didn’t crash much. But now I’m into 3D video in a big way and Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus is hard to beat for US$99 (download)….and so I use Win7 64-bit for most video editing now. Windows 8 is MS’s latesty version of “Skip OS”, so my video editing won’t be going anywhere near that mess. I’m typing this in Chromium on Ubuntu 12.10 Desktop booted from a 120GB SSD. It only uses 3.7GB of space. Linux definitely kick’s Windows butt in some really, important and valuable ways…..but I agree video editing isn’t one of them…and not even close. But you can do video editing if you want to….and it wasn’t too bad last time I tried it. I’ve got a video on Youtube under “linuxluver” of the trams in Melbourne, Australia. That video was edited on Linux.

    Comment by Steve Withers — February 5, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

  7. Voizes.org is completely edited with Kdenlive

    Comment by xose — June 5, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  8. Well the linux platform didn’t fail me yet.I used mac i hate it because they are to anally closed to even help with the progression of video editing on any other platform. I did use AVID ADOBE SONY MOVIE MAKER COREL VIDEO STUDIO at least with those i can use any computer that is purpose built for heavy editing but with that it comes with a price tag or get a torrent. There seem to be some linux nay sayers that just wants linux to fade out of the computer world. Cmon people its all about the progression and evolution. They have forums suggest how to make it better.

    Comment by Jeff — July 27, 2015 @ 4:40 pm


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