posted by Paul Gallant on Thu 29th Jul 2004 18:34 UTC
IconIn my first article I tried out various audio/video apps to see what Linux had to offer for video production. For the most part I was pretty disappointed with the whole experiment. Several months have passed so I decided to take another look to what has progressed since then. There were two programs that I left out because they were either not realized or it was to soon to try it out.

I downloaded the new Suse 9.1 live CD to test my hardware out. I booted it up on my test machine and Suse detected all of my hardware without A hitch. I then downloaded the install CD and installed it along side of WindowsXP. Installation was drop dead easy. Everything was automatic. This had to be the easiest OS installation that I have ever done.

Machine Specs:
-idec small form factor PC
-AMD Athlon xp 2800+
-512 MB ram
-On board video, usb, firewire, and 10/100 network

Main Actor V5:

Main Actor is a video editing program from Main Concept. It is available for Windows and now Linux. I downloaded the demo for the Linux version and was happy to see that it had watermarks added to the footage instead of being save-disabled. I clicked on the rpm and yast popped up and installed it without incident. One thing that bothers me about Linux is that it doesn't tell you were it put the executable so you can launch the program. With Suse you can hit the files tab in Konqueror before installing to see were everything is going. If you install the rpm from the CLI you can use the -qpl switch to see were everything went. It would be nice if you had some kind of option to make a shortcut on the desktop or even have it added to the launch menu. After a quick investigation I found the file in my /usr/bin directory. This may seem like a no brainer to Linux folks but to people coming from A different platform this would be a problem.

When you launch MainActor it opens up with a time line, preview window, media player, effect window, and a file browser. It should seem very familiar if your used to programs like Adobe Premiere or Final cut pro. The first thing I noticed when loading media files is that the interface is very snappy. I Added some files to the time line and added a few transitions. One nice thing is that you can scrub through the time line and see your transitions in real time. It could handle just about any type of media files that I could throw at it including stills, video, and audio clips.

Main Actor comes with a nice variety of effects and transitions for audio and video. One thing that I found interesting was inclusion of an audio transition. I've always done this by hand but it was nice to have the option available if I was in a hurry. The time line is layered out in a similar way to other editing programs. I liked the different zoom options you had by either stretching the slider or using the scroll wheel on the mouse. Another feature I'd never seen on another editor is the "search" option on the clip window. I could see this being useful if you had a huge project going on but, with multiple time lines available and a organized clip area I probably wouldn't use it much. I then decided to plug my camera in and try out the video capture. The capture window has many features including: capture preview, deinterlaced options, and time setting options.

We'll if your looking for a "prosumer" video editing program for Linux then Main Actor is your answer. I've been using the demo for a few days and I have to say that it has been very solid. The OS is free and the program is $199. I'm going to be ordering this for my "luggable" editing machine.

Jahshaka:

Jahshaka has to be one of the most interesting programs that I've used in a while. Its interface was a little weird at first but when you get it, you begin to understand how each part of the program works. Its a combination motion graphics, animation, effects, paint, and titling in one. Its being developed on Red hat Linux but there are ports for OSX, Irix, and Windows. Its still in the Alpha stage but I thought is was far enough along to give it a try. For some reason the latest realize is only available for Windows but I'm sure that will change soon.

When you first launch the program you are presented with the "desktop". This is the central location where you load and organize your media files. Every section of the program gets its files from here. Its a good idea because it would be a mess trying to organize everything if each section had its own media. Your presented with a set of buttons on the bottom left part of the screen that takes you to each part of the program. each section has a main window, layers box, and a row of tabs that takes you to the various options and settings. One thing thats nice is every section of the program has a "get desktop" button that takes you back to the main window. Its kind of like a media "home" key.

The coolest thing about Jahshaka is that just about everything can be made 3D. You can add video clips and alter their shape and transparency in 3D on the fly. You can stack multiple layers just like most graphic and editing programs. The program is a bit buggy but it is still in Alpha so thats to be expected. It runs really smooth when sliding 3D effects around which is very cool. I'm going to be watching the progress of this project very closely.

Conclusion:

I'm happy to say that this article went much better then the first one. I really liked both of these programs. I probably would have never discovered them if they were only available for Windows. Multimedia on Linux is really starting to make some headway. Its going to be interesting from here. I just discovered that my Tascam us-428 usb board now works with Linux so I guess my next article will be "Audio Production with Linux"

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About the author:
I run a video production business based in Raleigh, NC. I have been using computers since I was programing in basic on My Atari 400. I later moved to the Amiga and eventually traded it in for the x86 world. I'm currently on a mission to make my computer world Microsoft free.


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