Free Software for Video

Video Editing
Video editors are usually described as 'Non-Linear Editors' = 'NLEs' (read the story). My own choice of NLE is Sony's paid-for 'Platinum Studio 12' editing suite, costing less than a ton. It includes a Video Editor, audio Wave Editor and DVD/BluRay burner. It handles a wide range of video formats up to HD and has templates to render for Youtube, Facebook, etc. I prefer version 12 to the later dumbed-down version 13 aimed at touch screens, but which can edit 4k. Take a look at the Free NLE Guide 2017.

The Linux Operating System is good if you have had a Windows go-slow and are about to scrap an otherwise good PC. Bung Ubuntu on it and away you go - a clean start. My experience with installing some Linux apps is that they can be a troublesome but the later apps are much better and some of the older Windows programs might run to some extent under 'Wine'.

Pro software will some serious computer power; a good processor and plenty of RAM. Some apps are 'Fremium', which means free-but-nobbled, usually with fewer video tracks and limited rendering possibilities. But some are quite usable without the paid-for features. Pro apps will often use node-based editing which might be alien to most amateurs and perhaps too advanced for amateur projects.

Youtube has a wide range of very good tutorial videos to help install and use most if not all of the programs below. Get a downloader extension for your web browser and you can collect them. Then put them on a USB stick and watch them on your tv (via a set-top box if the tv has no USB slot).

Just as there are free VST plug-ins for use in sound editing, there are free OSX video plug-ins suitable for a range of NLEs. I also suggest you install some unusual fonts for on-screen text, to help set the context or make it stand out. The same goes for background music. Youtube has a lot of free and royalty-free music.

Before you Start
Set up the monitor correctly. If it is out of kilter, so will be the end result played elsewhere. If, for example, your monitor is a bit green, your results might be too magenta. The professional tool is a colour-checking gizmo, like 'Color Monkey' or 'Spyder', which is placed on the face of the monitor and its app is run, but a basic adjustment tool like Calibrize (below) would be better than nothing. The idea is to remove any colour bias so that greyscale tones are neutral and colours look correct.

If you have buckets of money, purchase a proper colour-correct monitor and have it set up properly. Some of the high-end LG televisions are close to correct, with some tweaking. If you are checking your work on a domestic TV, make sure it is set to 'Cinema' mode (natural contrast and colour saturation); never 'Dynamic' or 'Vivid'.


Video Editing and Compositing
Key: W = Windows, M = Mac, L = Linux, , Am = Amateur, Pro = Professional. See also 'Blender' in the later section.

Morphing, Animating and Other
Morphing will turn two pictures into a morphing video clip.

Video Format Converters, Rippers and Players
Digital Cinema Package (DCP)
OpenDCP and DCP-Omatic are intended to prepare video/sound/text files into DCP, which comprises MXF (Material Exchange Format) and XML files. This is the format used for projection in digital cinemas such as our own Penistone Paramount. The technical spec of DCP was prepared by Digital Cinema Initiatives as a joint venture by major film studios and is now the standard used for film distribution. The actual 'films' are sent out on hard disc drives. A decryption key is required for a particular time-span to unlock the files for projection, as arranged through the distributor. As a matter of interest, it appears that DCP files are stored as 'reels', as with physical films. So a full film might use three 'reels'.

DCP programs import your 2k (24/48 fps) or 4k (24 fps) video/sound/ subtitles, etc., to help produce DCP files, perhaps using some other apps. The process requires each video frame to seperated into a 16-bit TIFF picture, resulting in perhaps thousands of picture files. Another process converts sRGB colourspace to 'XYZ' colourspace, the cinema standard. The resulting files are encoded into JPEG2000 and exported as MXF files to save on an EXT2-formatted memory stick (easy to do), ready for the cinema software to read and project it. The alternate to DIY is to spend thousands of pounds for the experts to do it. Or make a Blu-Ray disc!

Wikipedia's DCP page has some pointers about what goes into DCP and lists some DCP tools. See this 2012 article 'How to Make a Digital Cinema Package on your own Computer'. Of course, you would like to see your results but the viewers are all commercial products. The trial version of 'EasyDCP' Player allows you to check your work, but only for 15 seconds. The OpenDCP Forum has some tutorials on DCP. See also DCP-Info.

TV - PVR Software
New section for receiving and recording TV off-air.

Video Tutorials
Well, it's very easy to find good tutorials on Youtube, using its search engine. But before I start adding them here, have a look at a useful list of hints aimed at professionals. It's a bit techie and written from the editor's point of view but the basic rules hold good for the amateur. And don't forget the Audio.

Out of Interest
Some interesting home-brew and video club videos.

And from the professionals...


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