Linux video editing and YouTube annotations

In my recent trip to Copenhagen, I recorded a small video of the subway (it’s really cool, because it’s completely automatic, it doesn’t have drivers or anything). I wanted to edit the video to remove people that were reflected on the window, so I wondered if I could do that on Linux. I imagined it wouldn’t be trivial, but it was more frustrating than I thought. Maybe I’m too old for this.

The first thing I tried was looking in APT’s cache for “video editing”. The most promising was kino. I had tried that some time ago a couple of times, and I never made it to work, but I figured I would try again. Unfortunately, same result: I just can’t figure out how to import my videos. Maybe I’m just hitting the wrong button or whatever, but it’s really frustrating.

Second thing was having a look in the internet. I found the (dead and being rewritten?) Cinelerra, as always, and I didn’t feel like installing the old one from source, only to lose my time and not get it to work, so I just ignored it. Maybe they had it in debian-multimedia and wouldn’t have been a tough install after all. Anyway.

Next thing, I found some program called openmovieeditor. This one apparently worked, but I couldn’t figure out how to crop the image (or almost any other thing for that matter).

Next, some neat program written in Python, called pitivi. When I tried to run it though, it just said Error: Icon 'misc' not present in theme on the console and died. I later figured out that I had to install gnome-icon-theme for it to work (yeah, Debian maintainer’s fault). It’s funny, because on the webpage it says that it has some “advanced view” that you can access via the “View” menu… but I couldn’t find it. My menu only had one entry: “Fullscreen”. Great.

Oh, wait, there’s a gimp-gap. I could just import my animation in Gimp, crop the frames, and convert again to video. Easier said than done. I needed some programs that I didn’t have, and I wasn’t sure if they were so easy/quick/clean to install (sure, I could have exported to GIF animation and probably convert to video, I just didn’t want to lose so much color quality in the GIF step). Forget for now. At least I had the images, so if I could just turn them into a movie…

So, I started wondering if, given that I had decided to just crop, and especially now that I had a lot of images that were the frames, maybe I could just use some command line tool or something. So I found this tiny little program, images2mpg. Long story short, after installing some dependencies from source (that gave compilation errors, but luckily I could compile only the binaries I really needed) that program was completely retarded and didn’t even do what I wanted (it wanted at least one second between images, but I didn’t want a slideshow, just a normal movie from the frames). It looks some simple and it’s so buggy. Gah.

So I started wondering if I could just crop with mplayer… Hmmm… after a couple of problems (like documented switches that were not there and other crap), I ended up with this command line:

mencoder -vf crop=320:200:0:40 MVI_2160.AVI
         -ovc lavc -nosound -o metro-crop.avi

That was reasonably quick and easy but it was so frustrating after all that lost time.

In any case, I ended up with the video I wanted, so I went to YouTube to upload it. When uploading, I realised that there was some option I had never seen: annotations.

YouTube annotations are really cool. They are like the notes on Flickr, but on a video :-D Actually I kind of wanted to make a note like that on this video, to show the automatic doors on the Metro station, so I was really happy to see that I could actually do it. And the interface is really easy to use and very clear. I really like it! You can see the result here:

EDIT: WTF? The annotations don’t appear on the embedded videos? You’ll have to go to the video page to see them, then…