Yet again, with Lucid Lynx, Ubuntu has shunned a much better technology for no good reason other than what appears to be NIH syndrome. Ubuntu 10.04 came out last week, and included a movie editor in the default install for the first time. The movie editor they chose: PiTiVi.
Now PiTiVi has been around for a long time, but has progressed very little. It can do very basic video manipulation. It can cut and split files, and move them round on a time line. That’s pretty much it. Furthermore, as far as I’m aware, it currently does not support the most popular HD video format used in cameras today – AVCHD. It lacks any video or audio filters, does not do transitions, nor titling. I know that Ubuntu tries to provide basic tools that will appeal to the average user – hence the replacement of GIMP with F-Spot in the default install, but in my view support for HD video formats, filters and transitions are the bare minimum features anyone looking to do video editing in the current environment would require.
Furthermore, these features are provided by kdenlive in an interface which is just as simple as PiTiVi. But under the simple exterior, kdenlive has much more sophisticated features:
- Capture from any source, including DV
- Import and organise media files with folders
- Drag and drop media to the time line
- Render to a large number of formats using a wide variety of codecs
- Support for DV, HDV, AVCHD, H264, mpeg, avi and mov
- Support for uncompressed PCM, ac3, mp2, mp3, vorbis and wav
- Predefined export settings
- Heaps of effects, transitions and filters
- Title creation tool
In my view, Ubuntu is doing desktop Linux a huge dis-service by putting in basic, buggy tools and then advertising its product as having “video editing” capabilities. The short point is that it hasn’t, and users moving to Ubuntu on the basis of this promise will be bitterly disappointed, tainting their overall view of Linux.
So why did Ubuntu do this? Either they are not aware of kdenlive and its capabilities – which can’t be true, because it’s available in their repositories, or they have an aversion to including anything in the default install that requires the KDE libraries. While I can understand that approach – there is only so much space on the CD – why substitute for a clearly inferior application. In my view this is both a poor technical and marketing choice. They would have been better leaving PiTiVi off the default CD rather than tainting user’s impression of the readiness or otherwise of Linux for the desktop. Whilst I’m not saying that video editing for Linux is as healthy as on other platforms, I am saying it is a hell of a lot more advanced that Ubuntu and PiTiVi would lead the average person to think.