Posts tagged ubuntu studio

Capturing from Canon Vixia HV40 in Ubuntu

I am very pleased to report that capturing from my new camera works like a charm.  I hardly had to do any tweaking to get it to work.

Here are some commands that worked for me to begin with:

  • grab video
    sudo dvgrab –autosplit –frames 0 –size 0 –format hdv –buffers 1000 –showstatus –timestamp /home/video/foo-
  • convert to avi format for facebook, etc.
    ffmpeg -i foo.m2t video.avi
  • convert to dv format for editing
    ffmpeg -i /home/video/foo.m2t -target ntsc-dv foo.dv

Ubuntu Studio Tweaks

As I’ve been using Ubuntu Studio, I’ve discovered a number of must-have (for me, anyhow)  packages which were not installed by default.

As with any Ubuntu-based distro, there are a number of steps required to enable non-free and/or non-supported software.  I won’t bother to go into them, because Ubuntu has reached the point where it mostly prompts you to add codecs and things when you need them.  Of course, you should enable all repositories in the application manager (better yet, use Synaptic or, my favourite, Aptitude from the command line).

One exception I had to add was the “unstripped” versions of all the ffmpeg libraries.  I don’t think this is actually broken, just disabled in the default version of Ubuntu.  I just went into Synaptic, searched for ffmpeg, and added all the packages with “unstripped” in the name. (for details see Bug #254201 in ffmpeg-debian (Debian): “feature regression: ffmpeg lacks some video encoders (like h263+, MPEG4, maybe more…)”).  I use ffmpeg at the command line to encode video files and it is used in the background by many other video manipulation tools.

Some other packages I wanted to add to UbuStu:

  • openoffice (I used it to log my clips in a spreadsheet)
  • emacs (indispensable for tweaking config files and taking notes)
  • ntp (to make sure I’ve got the right time)
  • fslint (very useful for finding and removing duplicate files)
  • most (better than more or less for paging)
  • flashplugin-nonfree (to play flash in Firefox)
  • gstreamer (and plugins)
  • rhythmbox (my favourite jukebox for large music collections)
  • mplayer (commandline video player)
  • wv (commandline msoffice document dump)
  • elinks (commandline browser — comes in handy more often than you’d think)

I’m sure I’ll add plenty of more packages as I go along, but these are a few of the ones I’ve wanted so far.  I’ve also added a number of other applications, such as PiTiVi, Kdenlive, Avidemux, VideoCut, which I’m hoping to play with and get to know better.

Auditioning Multimedia Distros (part 3 – Ubuntu Studio)

After trying dyne:bolic and pure:dyne, I reverted to my last resort:  Ubuntu Studio (Intrepid Ibex version).

It isn’t that I dislike Ubuntu.  I’ve had it installed on my laptop and on our family computer for years.  I’ve also recommended it to friends several times with great success.  There were, however, two reasons why I wanted to avoid it for my multimedia workstations:

  1. Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop, which, although it is great, needs more system resources than, for instance, Xfce.  I wanted to leave as much CPU and memory as possible for Cinelerra.
  2. Ubuntu Studio comes pre-configured with loads of good multimedia applications, but Cinelerra itself isn’t one of them.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried on either score.  Installing Cinelerra turned out to be painless.  I used the community version (see Cinelerra :: a video editor and compositor for Linux for information on adding the repository to apt and installing the package).  Further tips for installing Cinelerra on UbuStu can be found here.

Once I had Cinelerra installed, it seemed to be working, but I still needed to do some tweaking of Cinelerra’s own settings to make it usable.  I’ll cover that in another post.

Beyond that, UbuStu worked like a charm without any performance issues on my aging hardware.  I’m also really enjoying the artwork and styling of the default UbuStu desktop.  Very snazzy.

Capturing Video Over Firewire in UbuStu

Today I wanted to capture some video from mini-DV tapes using my camera, a Panasonic mini-DV model. I have done so in the past using a firewire cable, but this is the first time I’ve tried with my new Ubuntu Studio setup.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. In “Ubuntu Studio Controls,” check “enable raw1394 access.” If you try to use your firewire device now, it may crash the machine, so you should reboot before proceeding. I had the system freeze up on me two or three times before I had everything working reliably (this may be a result of the wonky firewire connection on my camera, which seems to be loose).

2. After the reboot, put the camera into VCR mode and press play. Then run Kino (from a terminal as root) and switch to capture mode. You should see the video playing in the Kino window. Rewind the tape again before you proceed. This step seems to be necessary in order to get Ubuntu Studio to recognize the camera as a firewire device (dvgrab may work just as well).

3. If you aren’t capturing a whole tape, you could just use Kino to control the camera and capture the clips. I actually prefer to do the capture from the command line using dvgrab.  To begin capture, enter this command (again as root):

#dvgrab –autosplit –frames 0 –size 0 –format raw –timestamp <dest>/<foo>

In this command, <dest> is the place you want to store the clips (e.g. /home/video), and
<foo> is whatever prefix you want the resulting filenames to have (e.g. tape1-). The clips will automatically be split into files and the timestamp will follow the prefix in each name.

Once you run the dvgrab command, it will wait for you to press play on the camera and begin capturing the clips. You’ll have to press <ctrl>-c once the clips are finished being captured.

Because of the broken firewire connection on my camera, I investigated the possibility of using USB to capture video, but that doesn’t appear to be a viable choice (and much slower, even if one could get it to work).

More info on firewire in Ubuntu here: Firewire – Community Ubuntu Documentation

Agave – A Handy Web Design Tool

Exploring Ubuntu Studio, I discovered a utility I’ve never seen before.

Agave is, among other things, a handy program for finding harmonious new colour schemes you can use on web pages.

I used it to choose the colours for the parent page of this site — Kevin Kennedy’s Web Portal — and I love the results (YMMV).

Choosing a Multimedia Linux Distro

For reasons I won’t go into yet, I decided to take my tried and true Debian server and turn it into a multimedia workstation.

The machine is a Shuttle barebones case with an Athlon XP 1700+ CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a ATI Radeon video card.  It contains two WD 200GB drives, plus I’ve added a WD 1TB (I love writing that!) external USB drive.

The system isn’t exactly ideal for it, but my ultimate goal is to use it for video editing with Cinelerra in particular.  My old Debian install had too many idiosyncracies to continue with, but I really wanted to stay with a distro in the Debian family, which I’m very familiar and happy with.

I narrowed the choice down to three options.  There are other similar distros out there which might do (64Studio, Musix, for example), but these seemed like the best options for me:

  1. d y n e : b o l i c

    • plenty of great software, including Cinelerra
    • uses low-resource window manager
    • seems to have a good user base and a bit of history behind it
    • made by Rastafarians!
    • doesn’t use Debian’s apt for package management, so you must wait for the next dyne:bolic release for upgrades
  2. pure:dyne

    • entirely Debian, with traditional package management
    • uses low-resource window manager
    • supported by Arts Council England
    • although it used to be based on dyne:bolic, the latest versions have been recreated from scratch from Debian, so there’s probably still work to do
  3. Ubuntu Studio

    • Ubuntu-based, so it will have plenty of support
    • uses Gnome
    • doesn’t include Cinelerra

I tested all three, but I ended up using Ubuntu Studio. Why? Because of hardware problems of one sort or another. I’ll explain more later.