Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Five tips for creating
videos on Linux

There are many reasons people need to create and edit videos. If you’re using the
Linux platform, you don’t have to fret that there
aren’t video tools available for you. With the right
knowledge, you can create and edit videos on the
Linux platform. To make your video production
go as smooth as possible, here are video tips for Linux. Some are
application-specific; some are more general. The
result will be a much richer video experience on
the Linux platform.
1: Try OpenShot Video
If you’re looking for the video editor with the best
ratio of ease-of-use to features, look no further
thanOpenShot Video Editor. It’s one of the fastest
tools for creating video optimized for the likes of
YouTube. Not only can you import
your .avi, .mpeg, and other video formats (based
on Ffmpeg), you can also import still images and
audio. But it doesn’t end there. You can create
and add transitions (from within the applications)
and add multiple effects to both audio and video.
Once the video is complete, just export the final
file to various templates (such as YouTube or
high definition video).
2: Produce screencasts
For training purposes, there is no better tool than
a screencast. And with a well-made screencast,
you can build a superb training video with the
help of OpenShot Video Editor. But what tools are
best for grabbing screencasts in Linux? The best
one I have found is gtk-recordmydesktop. This is
a Gnome-based front-end for recordmydesktop
that lets you record the entire desktop or specific
windows and even follow the mouse (and zoom
in on the action).
3: Choose the right video
This should be a no-brainer, but I am often
surprised at how many users are shocked at
how poorly video editing works with their on-
board video chipset. Generally speaking, if you
are doing any sort of video editing, an on-board
video chipset will not work. Sure, you will be able
to create some basic videos. But if you need high
quality (or very high resolution) results, make
sure you are working with a machine that has a
card with plenty of power and solid, supported
drivers in Linux. Your best bet is to go with an
ATI card, as the ATI Linux support is on par with
the ATI Windows support. It is true that during
the encoding phase of video creation, the
majority of the load will be on the CPU and not
the GPU. But for tasks like the creation of
screencasts, a subpar video chipset will create
subpar results.
4: Find a good encoding
There are many ways to encode a video. Some
tools, such as OpenShot, have built-in front-ends
for the popular video encoders for the Linux
platform. If you prefer to encode outside an
application, those tools are readily available as
well. One of the best video encoders is the
command-line tool mencoder. It was built from
the same tools that created MPlayer, so it can
work with any format MPlayer can play and any
filter MPlayer can use. Mencoder is not simple, so
new users might want to steer clear and find a
good front-end (such asAcidRip for encoding/
ripping CDs and DVDs). A typical mencoder
command can look like this:
mencoder ./Video/TEST/VTS_1.VOB -o ./Video/test.avi -of avi -oac copy lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4
which would convert a .VOB to an .avi format.
5: Select the right capture
There is a whole other world to be had with Linux
in the form ofMythTV and MythBuntu. This is an
entire distribution created for the purpose of
DVRs. With it, you can replace that crappy DVR
from your cable company and use a powerful
media-friendly Linux distribution. From those
recorded videos, you can then take samples to
add to your own videos. Here’s the problem. For
any video capture software, you must have the
right capture card. This isn’t always easy in Linux.
If you’re looking at digital (and who isn’t now?),
the only form of digital capture that MythTV
currently supports is over FireWire from
compatible set-top-boxes. Here isa list of the
compatible firewire set-top-boxes that are
supported in MythTV. If you want to go the
analog route, the Hauppauge lineup of cards is
well supported in Linux. Here isa list of the
supported Hauppauge capture cards.
Worth the effort
Video in Linux does not have to be that
challenging. Yes, you are going to come across a
few more hurdles than you would in Windows,
but the results will certainly be worth the time
invested. In the end, you will be creating
professional quality videos at nonprofessional
prices with software on a very reliable platform.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cairo Dock Is a Mac OS X Style Launcher for Ubuntu and Debian

Ubuntu/Debian Linux: Cairo Dock is an app
launcher for Ubuntu and Debian Linux that closely
mimics the sleek look and feel of the Mac OS X
Cairo Dock works with or without OpenGL, and
makes for a surprisingly functional visual
improvement over the spartan Ubuntu Classic or
Unity 2D interfaces in Ubuntu. It doesn't just look
slick, though; the dock allows customization for
behavior, appearance, plug-ins, and themes.
The OpenGL version of Cairo Dock is also known
as GLX-Dock, and the two share all plug-ins as
well as themes.
Both the dock itself and the app icons that sit on it
can have their own separate themes, and you
can add not just multiple docks, but sub-docks
for existing docks. More interestingly, you can
add applets alongside apps, which is something
the dock in OS X simply won't do.