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Penguin in the picture: top video editors for Linux fans

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Kdenlive - the KDE cross over

The codec support with Kdenlive comes from ffmpeg, which seems to be a bit better than Gstreamer. Some AVCHD clips from a newer camera, as well as few older Quicktime files, neither of which worked in PiTiVi, did just fine in Kdenlive.

Kdenlive also has some nice extras like the ability to grab your desktop in realtime and capture tethered firewire cameras.

When it comes to publishing your movies, Kdenlive has nearly unlimited options - everything from H.264 to Flash to Ogg. You can even export out in RAW DV format.

Of course all these features mean that Kdenlive's interface is considerably more complex than PiTiVi's. It isn't horrendous, but there is definitely a learning curve. Luckily, there are quite a few handy video tutorials on the Kdenlive site and the documentation is extensive.

The last editor I'm going to tackle is Cinelerra, the self described "50,000 watt flamethrower" of Linux video editors. In fact, Cinelerra is far too complex and powerful to do justice to in the limited space here. Suffice to say that if you're looking for the Final Cut Studio or Avid of the Linux world, Cinelerra is what you're after.

Cinelerra can do everything Kdenlive does and then some, offering countless color correction tools, sharpening filters, audio effects, motion tracking, and even supports OpenGL shaders on NVidia graphics cards for some serious video crunching power.

Cinelerra's massive set of features is a bit confusing at times and the interface is one part serious video editor and one part hideous, but once you get past the looks the functions will win you over. The only real downside to Cinelerra is that it seems prone to crashing. Luckily, it has a pretty good restore feature and if you live by the Windows motto - save early, save often - you should spare yourself too much trouble.

Cinelerra

Cinelerra: the "50,000 watt flamethrower" of Linux video editors

The other problem is that the Cinelerra CV project doesn't seem interested in holding your hand while you figure out the complexities of the UI, but there are a lot of users out there on the web with tutorials, video, and how-tos that should answer most newcomers' questions.

Once you half-way master Cinelerra's complexities there isn't much you can't do, including edit and output feature length movies if you so desire.

Unlike on photography, when it comes to video Linux really does hold its own. Even the familiar complaint about less than stellar UIs doesn't apply here -sure Cinelerra takes a while to figure out, but so do Premier and Final Cut Studio, to say nothing of Avid.

In fact, even if you aren't a full time Linux user, it's well worth investigating the platform's video editors since all of them are free. If you find one that works for you, you'll have quite a bit of extra money to put toward cameras and lenses instead of software. ®

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