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You are here: Home Blogs Community How I made a video for LibrePlanet using all free software

How I made a video for LibrePlanet using all free software

by danfitzm Contributions Published on Mar 21, 2014 06:30 PM
At last year's LibrePlanet (2013), I had the opportunity to watch much of the footage used in this video being shot. This was my first LibrePlanet and I found that congenial conversations and insightful talks were both available in abundance. A few friendly conversations later, I volunteered to edit the LibrePlanet video using all free software -- something I had been looking for the opportunity to try. I have been producing, shooting and editing videos for the past ten years or so, but using the editing software available at the local community access TV station in Newton, MA (just a short subway ride from the FSF offices in Boston).

The LibrePlanet 2014 conference starts tomorrow! Participate online at or register now.

Over the past few years there have been more than a few articles in the GNU/Linux press asserting that free video applications were, well, not ready for prime time. Is this still true? I wanted to make this video to find out what free software video production tools could do, in addition to giving people a glimpse of LibrePlanet.

This video is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 by Dan Fitzmartin and the Free Software Foundation. Download the video.

I am delighted to report that this video was made exclusively using free software tools. Here's a list of the software that was used to make the video:

Selecting the video editor for this project afforded the opportunity to look into the current state of the several free video editor projects. A number of these projects are under active development, so this is a dynamic situation. I chose kdenlive for a number of reasons, but I likely could have used one of the others.

The machine I used at the FSF office had Trisquel GNU/Linux installed. It is important to make sure that your hardware and video editing software are working well together before your video project starts. I installed the most recent versions of kdenlive, frei0r, and MLT from their PPA, dealt with a glitch or two, and set to work. I think it goes without saying that video editing takes a good deal of computer horsepower. Supporting the Free Software Foundation with your yearly membership is the way you can help make more computers for video editing and media production available to FSF staff and volunteers (as well receive gratis admission to LibrePlanet for yourself).

It was both a revelation and a welcome challenge to use a different video editor after all this time. You build up a style over time, and the implementation of that style has a lot to do with the software you use -- perhaps a lot more than one might think. For example, transitions and effects were different in kdenlive, and the whys and hows of that lead to new insights and, truth be told, occasional frustrations. Getting your assumptions challenged is often a good thing. With proprietary software it's "my way or the highway," whereas with free software there are usually a number of ways to accomplish something.

Over the last decade, free software for music composition, and audio production has matured to the point where they are ready to empower creative people worldwide. On this project, audio editing was as important as video editing, and the GNU/Linux audio tools and applications were absolutely up to the task.

So here is a shout of thanks to all the free video editor developers who have toiled to bring these tools to us. Thanks enormously!

Now for us users: the time to try the free video editor of your choice has come! Better yet, try several and see which one you like. Perhaps, try several and find the particular strengths of each one. Providing user feedback and encouragement to developers is the path to progress for us all.

Is there a video editing project for which a free video editor will work for you? See for yourself. Make your first ready-for-prime-time video with free software. Is a free video editor the way to empower people to get involved with video production? By all means.

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