Last week, my boss requested that all the supervisors in the library system prepare a 3 to 5 minute video presentation on any topic we choose. We were told also to have fun with it. You know how these things are. So instead of dreading trying to come up with a topic good enough, or funny enough, I decided to turn it into a learning experience involving my two favorite things right now: My Linux Cinnamon 18.2 desktop system and elements of the Netflix TV series called The IT Crowd. The topic I chose to present on is library staff reporting trouble with the Smart Money Manager credit card swipe terminals at the circulation stations. I also decided to turn the video into a “How To” project with Linux. So I broke it down into steps for you:
Step 1 – Scripting: Write out your script and idea and read through it a few times to get it fresh in your mind before recording.
Step 2 – Recording: Get a volunteer to do the recording. In my case, I got my wife to do all the video recording on her iPhone 6s at different spots within our main library location and in my office area. She attached her phone to a tripod stand that came with a blue tooth remote for the phone, and that really helped the recording process. She then loaded all the video clips onto a flash drive, which I copied onto my computer. Here’s a tip, don’t try to work with these files while still on the flash drive – copy them into a folder on you computer.
Step 3 – Editing: This was the tricky part. I had to do a lot of editing of the many video clips we recorded, get them into some coherent order, and put them together into one video file for presenting. It was a lot like creating a DVD slide show with pictures, only with this, I was using video clips. If you have ever worked with Windows Movie Editor, then you know what I’m talking about. Software: I first tried OpenShot Video editor. It allowed me to drop in different video clips and arrange them in the order I wanted. I quickly found out, however, that I needed a better graphics card because the video would skip and jump on playing back edited clips. I’m running an Intel Core i7-2600 CPU @ 3.4GHz with 16 gigs of RAM and an NVIDIA G86 Quadro NVS 290, which is a business class graphics card. It wasn’t enough, though, to keep up with the video playback review demands. So I turned to the other video editing software in the Software Manger in Linux, called Pitivi. I installed Pitivi, which works the same as OpenShot, but with a lot more simplified user interface. I had very little editing difficulties and video playback review rarely skipped or jumped. If it did, I simply reduced the zoom on the time line, and it smoothed out.
Sept 4 – Rendering: I was able to put in some 20 video clips together into a timeline. Here’s a screenshot of the Pitivi software and my project:
The top left corner is where you drop video clips you want to include into the project. It helps to have them numbered in some kind time sequential order. Then you drag the video clip down to the story board, which is down in the middle of the window. You arrange the clips in the order you want.
With the toolbar on the right-side, you can do a number of editing actions on the video clips. On each video clip, you can cut and remove little pieces of video you don’t want by selecting the clip and choosing the cut button on the toolbar. Just be sure to zoom in on the storyboard before cutting clips, so you can make sure you’re cutting out the right piece of video. Then you can zoom back out again and slide the video clips back and forth on the storyboard to join them up with other clips to make a smooth video with no gaps. On the small toolbar, you can also group video clips together to make moving them easier, keeping them together. You can also ungroup them, and even ungroup the video from the audio if you like. With this, you can then import your own audio and place it under a video clip. There are many other features you can explore, such as creating a title as I did, applying an effect to it and importing some audio like I did from the IT Crowd and placing it under the title. The window in the upper right-hand corner allows you to view the storyboard sequentially by clicking the play button. By the way, don’t forget to click the Save button often to save the project while you are working on it. More than once I had to close the project and re-open it at the last saved point because there is no Undo button I could find.
Once you have all the video clips arranged the way you want, review the storyboard on your project one last time, and if you’re satisfied, it’s time to render the finished video. The Render button is right next to the Save button. The Render option allows you to create the single video in a variety of formats. I first tried Ogg because I know that works very well on Linux. After 15 minutes, I got a finished project in my Home folder. Movie Player would not open it, but VLC played it fine. I decided to try a more universal file format, so I tried MP4, but it never worked. It never got past the initializing stage. MPEG Program Stream and MPEG Transport Stream rendered a video that played the audio, but no video could be seen. AVI was a dead end as well. I didn’t try HTML5 Video because I was getting impatient, so I tried a format I know works, and transcodes well into other formats, and that is Matroska, mkv. It rendered great, and the video played in Movie Player and VLC. To be on the safe side, however, I used Transmageddon Video Transcoder to transcode the mkv file into mp4, and that also worked great. So then I had three formats, OGV, MKV, and MP4 that I could take to work on a flash drive and be sure at least one of them would play correctly when I presented my video with the other supervisors.
I did notice that while my co-workers were trying to get their video perfect in one recording, or trying to figure out what they would use on a Windows computer, or trying to use very complicated software like Adobe Premier, I used a free and open source program to accomplish the same goal.
If you want to see the finished video, click here: https://youtu.be/nKWWFugd73U
All the best,
Supervisor Technical Services