Thursday, May 9, 2013

Linux Software Wishlist/rant #1


I'm a Linux user, who by default will use a FLOSS solution or nothing. Primarily due to budget, but also philosophically because using a cracked proprietary solution is as good as paying them with my time.

Often I am wanting to do something on my computer, I look for software to help and am stuck with poorly implemented solutions with little to no documentation. I'm pretty good at working around the limitations and trawling forums to find a way through, but I wish it were easier.

Sometimes I write about it, most of the time its such a small and inconsequential thing that I don't.

Often times I am confronted with the reality that I need to get back into study, brush up my maths and get back to university to learn programming so I can resolve the problems myself either through contributing to an existing project, or starting a new one.

Today my problem was was the shitty video editing solutions that exist. I've tried multiple products like openshot, kdenlive, avidmux, winff, lightworks, handbreak, etc etc.. and I always turn back to the commandline tools like mencoder, ffmpeg, avconv, transcoder. Primarily ffmpeg*

The reason I return to the commandline is because no GUI tool does everything I want, they all have tiny little parts and a whole hell of a lot of bloat. they crash often, or take forever on a process and provide little to no feedback. The GUI tools are just using the cmd line tools anyway, but adding a level of abstraction over the top that I really don't appreciate for my needs.

I don't need funky effects, I rarely need colour correction, I make basic edits. Kdenlive has been my goto for these two things.

After that I mainly re-encode video's to homogenise my movie library, and to finalise my cut videos for uploading to youtube. Command line tools work best for that work anyway because I can batch things together.

The tool I wanted today was a lens distortion correction filter along the lines of PTlens, I looked and the only thing I could see was something to do with fri0r but there was no documentation, little to no examples.

You see, I have a GoPro Hero3. I use transcoder to remove camera shake, but it understandably leaves wobbly distortion at the edges of the footage. If I could lens correct, or debarrel, the footage first before deshaking it, I think the effect would be greatly reduced.

You would think that the open source community would have solved these things already, and I'm sure they have, multiple times, but things like bitrot, poor documentation, poor implementation, make these things dissappear into the ether.

This happens to me all the time, I want to do something, search, implementation is shit.

So... If I were to wish for a solution to my problem it would be the PTLense filter for ffmpeg or equivalent.

My bigger wish for the video editing world on Linux is more complicated, but if I were to put it into a sentence it would be "A timeline, an attribute graph editor and a filter node graph editor, where each clip on the timeline is the result of a filter node graph where all attributes are animatable" and it would look a lot like blender does.


* The libav project rubs me the wrong way, I end up using avconv because its the default in ubuntu and I cbf using the ppa for ffmpeg (don't bother defending libav, logical arguments don't normally work for consumers).