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Feature: Employment & Staffing

Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

By Nathan Willis on November 06, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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Open source multimedia specialist Collabora is hiring developers to work on the nonlinear video editor PiTiVi. The Cambridge, UK-based company contributes heavily to the GStreamer media framework and other GStreamer-dependent projects, so PiTiVi is a natural fit -- and it fills a sorely needed niche on the Linux desktop.

PiTiVi is a GTK+ video editor written primarily in Python and available under the LGPL. It uses GStreamer for audio and video processing, and the Gnonlin editing components. PiTiVi maintainer Edward Hervey is a Collabora employee, and the company employs another PiTiVi hacker part-time to focus on user interface improvements.

Collabora's Christian Schaller put out the call for a new round of hires via his blog on October 21, seeking multiple developers with experience in video editing, codec development, or GStreamer. He cited the company's decision that "if the Linux desktop was going to have a nice and easy to use video editor any time soon, we needed to do something to increase the pace of development significantly."

According to Schaller, Collabora hopes to assemble a three-to-four-person team in the short term, with the possibility of expanding further down the line. He says that the company's goal is "to take PiTiVi from a nice beginning to something that Linux users would naturally reach for when needing to edit their video clips. The goal is to keep the standard version of PiTiVi simple to use and aimed at people who do not edit videos as their main job.

"Our current timeline is to do a set of development releases over the next months," he says, "aiming for a major release in March/April, which should have most of the features people want from a basic video editor, like cutting, transitions, audio editing, photo support, and support for live sources like DV and HD DV."

Supporting development

The company intends to fund its PiTiVi team through contract projects customizing GStreamer-based media pipelines for customers in the entertainment and broadcasting industries. "The PiTiVi desktop application is to be our exhibition window for what we position as PiTiVi, GStreamer, and Gnonlin -- 'the platform.'

"The idea behind the platform is that being a modular system, PiTiVi, Gnonlin, and GStreamer are uniquely position to suit a wide range of needs that the other monolithic efforts out there cannot easily address. For instance, we are already working on using GStreamer and Gnonlin for mobile editing solutions for things like cell phones and other portable devices with some of our customers.... We are not positioning PiTiVi to be an Avid killer; that would be silly. Instead we offer it as an easily modified platform to create applications addressing specific needs in their workflow."

A critical part of building PiTiVi and GStreamer into a flexible editing platform is solid support for file formats common in the video editing world, including "intermediate" container formats used in other applications' editing pipeline, but far less familiar than playback codecs. For example, Schaller says, the platform already supports Dirac Pro, and will shortly be adding MXF and improving its QuickTime support. Support for Avid's DNxHD format is also planned.

Upstream

Schaller says that all of the changes born of the company's current contract work go directly back into the upstream GStreamer, Gnonlin, and PiTiVi code base -- though there are certain circumstances in which that might not be the case, such as a special extension to interface to a broadcaster's proprietary content management system.

But Collabora's plan is to keep all work on PiTiVi in the main trunk whenever possible. Schaller observes that both the modular nature of GStreamer and PiTiVi and the projects' licensing are designed to make pluggable, special-purpose adjustments easy to do.

Video woe

The lack of a stable, full-featured nonlinear video editor for Linux has been a sticking point for multimedia fans for several years. There are other efforts underway, including the DV-focused Kino and the community-driven Lumiera, a recent fork from the aging Cinelerra.

PiTiVi has been relatively slow-growing since its inception in 2004, making few official releases. Will a paid team of developers at Collabora make a substantial difference, allowing PiTiVi to leapfrog to the front of the pack?

There is a strong case to be made that it will. As Schaller observed, while most of the other video editing apps are monolithic, PiTiVi is modular. That makes Collabora's business model possible, supporting work on the code base through contract projects that may individually involve only a portion of the PiTiVi / Gnonlin / GStreamer stack. The company has a proven track record with this approach, both with GStreamer and with Telepathy. And one must not forget that although the PiTiVi project was started in 2004, it was not until late 2005 that GStreamer itself reached the level of stability required to build serious applications. A lot has changed since then.

Schaller says that the recruiting drive at Collabora is going very well. He notes that although it may not be easier to find qualified candidates with multimedia development experience, "what is certain though is since so many embedded systems are using it there is at least easier to find people with existing GStreamer experience." And that bodes well for PiTiVi.

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on Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

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Kdenlive

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.6.12.49] on November 07, 2008 01:59 AM
Kdenlive deserves loads more attention than it usually gets. It already does everything PiTiVi is intended to be doing in six months. The 0.7 release should be out in a couple of days -- the SVN version is looking great. I absolutely recommend it over all of the options mentioned in this article. Even though I'm a Gnome user.

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 212.200.74.164] on November 07, 2008 08:06 AM
Yes, Kdenlive is looking better but it doesn't use gstreamer and gnonlin, so why should a company that already supports these projects give their money to competing mlt?

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.89.67.169] on November 07, 2008 08:59 AM
Kdenlive might be doing all this already, it's a great promising app.
But there's nothing wrong with some competition, it will just spur everyone to make better apps.
And hopefully they won't stop at that spring release but develop it further...
I think this is very exciting!
Further, isn't this what linux is about? -Freedom of choice?
-David

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Re: Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.6.12.49] on November 07, 2008 01:14 PM
Indeed it is. I wasn't implying that Collabora should help Kdenlive instead.

What I mean is, Kdenlive wasn't even mentioned in the article, and I've seen plenty of other articles around lately still saying things like "a sorely needed niche on the Linux desktop" -- it's not anymore, there is at least one app that covers that niche pretty well.

And then of course: the more, the merrier. I'd be glad to see PiTiVi become a full-featured video-editing application. But I'd also be glad to see Kdenlive being recognized as the great app it is.

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Re(1): Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Nathan Willis on November 07, 2008 10:20 PM
Kdenlive isn't mentioned because it's an article about something else. The article is about Collabora's PiTiVi effort; it's not a round-up of Linux video editing apps. The sentence you're talking about just mentions two editing projects because it's just saying that there are others. Is this case, it mentions one "modest" project with less stringent goals (Kino), and one big project with higher-end goals (Lumiera) to show the spectrum. Reading other stuff into that sentence -- including dissecting what isn't said there -- is moot.

Nate

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.178.247.80] on November 07, 2008 01:24 PM
Lumiera is no fork of Cinelerra, it is a complete rewrite.

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Re: Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Nathan Willis on November 07, 2008 01:54 PM
It might be a rewrite by the time it is eventually completed, but the project began as a fork.

Nate

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.226.76.43] on November 07, 2008 06:44 PM
KDENLive kicks ass. I am also compuzzled as to why it is never really mentioned.

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.131.185.64] on November 07, 2008 09:00 PM
"there is at least one app that covers that niche pretty well."

Not on a professional level. For a home user, perhaps. There's absolutely nothing out there that can compete with Adobe Premiere Pro, let alone Avid. And it's not clear from this article whether PiTiVi wll either.

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Re: Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Nathan Willis on November 07, 2008 09:42 PM
Actually, there are quite a few high-end pro tools. Check out the list at http://www.linuxmovies.org/software.html . What there isn't is "pro-sumer" level software like Premiere. And as for whether PiTiVi "will" compete, yeah you're right I'm not making predictions today. We'll all have to wait and see when the future releases start coming.

Nate

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Re: Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 86.6.12.49] on November 08, 2008 02:13 AM
I didn't say it would be on a professional level, I mean at the same level PiTiVi is likely to reach given its present state and the list of changes they want to implement, which is the niche the article refers to.

However make sure you check out Kdenlive. I haven't used Premiere or Avid, but one of the few reviews I've found compared Kdenlive to iMovie (which I haven't used either; I take it's good) and ranked it "semi-professional".

And of course I should point out that the line between "home" and "professional" is a very blurry one...

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Re(1): Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Nathan Willis on November 10, 2008 02:47 PM
Well it sounded to me like you did. I have actually used Kdenlive, when I've edited video pieces for Lc, but found it in the tricky "works smoothly for some tasks, impossible for other tasks" state. Kino, in contrast, I would describe more as "works imperfectly but equally imperfectly at each task." Neither state is great or terrible, but when you bump into a editing feature that you need but isn't available at all, "works imperfectly" is the only choice you have.

And lines: yeah, that's where they concocted the term "pro-sumer" -- because there is no deterministic way to cleanly define what a pro needs; it just varies too much depending on the project. Take an example from iMovie: in iMovie it's very easy and slick to import clips and rearrange them, but once you get too many clips into the picture, it becomes a pain to manage them thanks to iMovie's very limited "thumbnail" clip browser. The clip browser is obviously designed for projects that only incorporate a handful of clips. The editing features don't keep a pro from making a professional-quality feature with it, but the clip browser does.

Nate

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.74.194.137] on November 07, 2008 10:43 PM
Oh wow I love them for this.

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 79.16.219.155] on November 12, 2008 01:59 PM
I'm a Gnome user but the unique useable Video Editor is Kdenlive. I know it isn't gstreamer but with frameworks still lacks AC3 and video capabilities

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Collabora funds development of open source video editor PiTiVi

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.245.147.68] on November 28, 2008 10:34 AM
The idea behind the platform is that being a modular system, PiTiVi, Gnonlin, and GStreamer are uniquely position to suit a wide range of needs that the other monolithic efforts out there cannot easily address. For instance, we are already working on using GStreamer and Gnonlin for mobile editing solutions for things like cell phones and other portable devices with some of our customers msn nickleri, msn http://www.msntube.net It already does everything PiTiVi is intended to be doing in six months. The 0.7 release should be out in a couple of days -- the SVN version is looking great. I absolutely recommend it over all of the options mentioned in this article. Even though I'm a Gnome user.

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