Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Linux & video editing

Yesterday was a very important day for me: I created my first home-video DVD, entirely edited on my Ubuntu machine.

It was a very interesting and satisfactory experience, even if not everything was so easy and straightforward.

After some thinking I decided to use Kino (http://www.kinodv.org/); I installed it and then I read Michele’s tutorial (I hope it can be made available somewhere some time soon) to get started.

I acquired the video from my DV camera and I got a separate .dv file for each scene. Then I cut the bad and boring parts, I added some “special” videos, generated some titles for the most important chapters and created some special effects for the video transitions. Doing all this was acceptably easy (it took some time of course, but video editing is not a quick task).

After that I moved to the audio.

While for the video part there are many tools available (transitions, special effects, title creation) the audio part is not very developed yet. What you can do with audio is a bit limited: you can mix your own music to the original audio (or replace it) and fade in/out. The two most annoying things I found are these:

- if you want to mix some audios you need to convert all your audio files to WAV PCM 44.1 kHz (now I created a small script which does it for me)

- when you do audio mixing you can’t keep the two tracks separated, so if you realize that your music background is starting too late or too early you have to try again and redo the processing. In general, after mixing whatever you do will apply to the mixed audios. So if you want for instance to fade at one point just the music background and keep the original audio at full volume, that is not possible.

Adding the music background took quite a lot of time, because I had in some cases to repeat the same operation several times to get the best result.

After completing the audio I created one mpeg file for each chapter using the “Export” option in Kino, and then I was ready for the menu.

Creating the DVD menu is also not very easy: I used ‘Q’ DVD-Author (http://qdvdauthor.sourceforge.net/) as a starting point, but then I had to edit manually one XML file to get it really working as I wanted. After doing this the good thing was that by pressing just one button I was able to get the whole DVD file system generated on my hard disk.

Last thing was to create the ISO image and then burn the DVD.

Now I’m very satisfied, and I can watch the videos from my trip to England on my TV!

Le cozze

I need to keep a promise, so here you are a photo of a delicious speciality from
Bari, which was cooked at my place a couple of years ago, when I was not blogging yet. Enjoy!

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Devo mantenere una promessa fatta, e quindi ecco qui una specialità barese, preparata a casa mia un paio di anni fa, quando ancora non bloggavo. Buon appetito!

Monday, June 18, 2007



I had not written yet about my trip to England.

Some friends of mine live in Cambridge, so I went to visit them and took the opportunity to see the country (I had never been there before). It was a nice trip: I spent one day in London, visiting all the most important attractions, and everything went fine, except some problems I had when I came back to Cambridge.

At the railway station the bus driver refused to let me in, because he had already closed the doors when I arrived (but he had not moved yet). I would have most likely run after it shouting at the driver if I had known that the next one was after one hour, but when I realised it was too late: I had to wait.

Meanwhile it started raining, and a pigeon also thought of leaving on my coat a “souvenir“ from England. When finally the next bus came I was really happy to make it into it: I sat inside waiting for my stop. Suddenly, something incredible and unpredictable happened: one guy in the bus started arguing with the driver (a woman) because he had taken the wrong bus and wanted the money of the ticket back. The discussion went on for some minutes, until the guy decided to take the money by himself… The driver rang the siren (yes, the bus had some alarm system) and immediately some cars in the street stopped and people came to check what was happening. To make it short, the police were called, and the trip was cancelled.

Next one: one hour. Luckily Michele was so kind to come and pick me up with his car…

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Non avevo ancora scritto del mio viaggio in Inghilterra.

Alcuni miei amici vivono a Cambridge, così sono andato a trovarli ed ho colto l’occasione per visitare un Paese in cui non ero mai stato. E’ stato un bel viaggio: ho passato un giorno a Londra dove ho visto le attrazioni più importanti, e tutto è andato bene, a parte qualche problema che ho avuto al mio ritorno a Cambridge.

Alla stazione l’autista dell’autobus si è rifiutato di farmi entrare, perché aveva già chiuso le porte (ma non si era ancora messo in moto). Molto probabilmente sarei corso appresso all’autobus insultando l’autista se avessi saputo che il prossimo autobus era dopo un’ora, ma quando me ne sono accorto era ormai troppo tardi: dovevo aspettare.

Nel frattempo è iniziato a piovere, e un piccione ha pure pensato di lasciare un souvenir inglese sulla mia giacca. Quando finalmente l’autobus è arrivato sono stato felice di riuscire ad entrare: mi sono seduto dentro, aspettando la mia fermata. All’improvviso, è successo qualcosa di incredibile ed inaspettato: un uomo nell’autobus inizia a litigare con l’autista (una donna) perché aveva sbagliato mezzo e voleva indietro i soldi del biglietto. La discussione è andata avanti per un po’ di tempo, finché l’uomo non ha deciso di prendersi i soldi da solo… L’autista ha suonato la sirena (l’autobus aveva un sistema di allarme) e subito alcune macchine per strada si sono fermate e delle persone sono venute a vedere cosa fosse successo. Per farla breve, hanno chiamato la polizia e la corsa è stata cancellata.

Prossimo autobus: un’ora. Per fortuna Michele è stato così gentile da venirmi a prendere con la sua macchina…