Monday, April 21, 2014

OpenShot :: Transparency and alpha, oh, yeahhh

Yayhoo, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have migrated back to Talking Rock (Pickens County, Georgia)! While contemplating dropping everything to stop and upload video footage of their return, started pondering the transparency capabilities of jpegs and such yesterday. It suddenly, BAM, hit to wonder about working a combination of a transparent video and alpha background image into the intro(duction) of homemade videos. Sure enough, turns out a close effect is possible via your choice of Inkscape and/or GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and OpenShot Video Editor..

So what I did was... After first pondering a transparency mashup as a possibility, I next decided I wanted the visual under the title frame to be a transparency of the first frame of the first video clip in the finished product. Printscreen comes to mind but that leaves a lot of room for error. Then I remembered seeing, in fact test driving then ditching, the feature that separates your video clips into single frames. One way to get to that is by:

  • Dropping your target video clip onto a track
  • Right clicking over top of your target video clip
  • Choosing (clicking) "Convert To Image Sequence"

What happens is, at least on my machine, it chugs a little and then you end up sitting there scratching your head because.... the newly created sequence.... might not show up in your primary OpenShot folder. Depends on your CHOICE of how you set up your files and save your projects. LOT of room for error there. I'm STILL getting system complaints when I reopen saved projects. Oy..

If all you need is one frame for something like what I'm doing, you can take an extra step in OpenShot and only create a small sequence. This way you end up with only a couple handful of images rather than generating HUNDREDS of images you might not ever use, not to mention the wear and tear on your poor computer.

Surely several ways to sequence fewer images but easiest for me until OpenShot's completely second nature was to:

  • Add a copy of my first video clip
  • Slice off a TINY sliver from the beginning of the video clip
  • Make an image sequence of just that tiny slice

You can add a temporary new track away from everything else just to do that sequencing. Simply delete that whole extra track as soon as the image sequence has been generated. A tiny slice takes a few seconds versus waiting unnecessarily for a large video to be sequenced. In my case today, OpenShot generated maybe 20 png files. I snagged the very first one and permanently deleted the rest.

Had to abort a search for that sequence earlier then accidentally and finally stumbled on it just now. The sequence for my setup was created in the same folder as the original video clip movie file. I *might* have mentioned in an earlier post that files are symlinked rather than actually drug into our projects. That's what happened, my generated image sequence was deposited in a different (all video) folder way over yonder. Snuggling up to the original movie clip file is actually a common sense *duh* place to look next when the sequence didn't turn up in the OpenShot folder.

For my purposes, I kept that one first frame so now what? I originally just wanted the frame to sit there twiddling its thumbs then pick up the video when that kicked in. In screwing around with it, though, there appeared that word "animation" in the choices.... Oooh. Animate. Overkill. Let's go for it. So my current choice of settings became:

  • Track 1: Soundtrack (Youtube Audio Library's Swamp_Stomp.mp3)
    • Right click over top and choose "Properties" (at bottom)
    • General tab, "Position On Timeline" = "0.00"
    • Length tab, "In" at "0.00", "Out" at "7.00"
    • Audio tab (because it's sound), "Fade Out" with "Fade Length" = "1.00"
    • Everything else I leave at default settings
  • Track 2: My title.svg frame (which it turns out is automatically transparent)
    • Right click over top and choose "Properties" (at bottom)
    • General tab, "Position On Timeline" = "0.00"
    • Length tab, "In" at "0.00", "Out" at "7.00"
    • Video tab (because it's visual), "Fade Out" with "Fade Length" = "1.00"
    • Everything else again at default settings
  • Track 3: The single png (#1) from image sequence I just did
    • Right click over top and choose "Properties" (at bottom)
    • General tab, "Position On Timeline" = "0.00"
    • Length tab, "In" at "0.00", "Out" at "7.00"
    • Layout tab, "Height" and "Width" = "15"; "X" and "Y" = "-15"; "Alpha" = "5" "0"
    • Everything else is default because I want png to seamlessly transition into the video

Note :: Almost ready to upload to Youtube and watched the video just one more time locally. Noticed that, after the video was exported (created), you could just barely see the transparent video sitting at the ready in the background. Didn't see it while I was only working in OpenShot. Tried setting the Properties > Layout tab > Alpha to "0". MUCH better. Clip starts out invisible but immediately becomes visible as it grows. Keep testing, always testing those settings.

Annnd another Note :: THIS is how cool OpenShot is. I'm getting ready to upload a video that is ~17.8MB in size. That is with all the alterings I've added PLUS the entire of the original video clip. That original video clip? It was.... ~73.4MB. I'm on dialup. That size difference alone is a huge, HUGE usability factor when it comes to being able to participate in video creation and uploading alongside everyone else. :)

So where were we? Settings. Right. Ok, those above should work. Those "-15" X/Y layout settings** for Track 3 bring the transparent png from the top left corner and drop it onto the screen as it "grows". Playing around with those numbers will bring it in at different sizes from different places.

My target, featured video clip snippet for now is on Track 2 with a "Position On Timeline" of "7.00" (Properties > General tab). I tend to let clips have a buffer of 0.01 seconds but there was a nanosecond of a blip unless the video clip bumped right up next to the png file. Another *duh*. I recently started fading my videos in and out (instead of just out). For this new (test) way of introducing titles, I won't fade *in* on the first video clip. That helps it all stay looking like one continuous thing, then.. Cool. :)

Annnd, being one to not leave things alone in software, I tried swapping the clips in Tracks 2 and 3 to see if there was any effect. There was. It looks, ummm... probably more professional. It's a quandary now, that one is. Professional looking versus overkill..... *hm*

** And there you go, messed with the settings again.. And found a few more things whose rationale hasn't gelled in my brain but that are surely calculable moves if you stare at it long enough. Changing "X" and "Y" values to "40" on the Properties > Layout tab brings the Track 3 png in from dead center. The not gelling part is about the number being "40" instead of "50". It must be about positioning a corner point of the clip based on how small you want it to be when it starts out. See, stare at it long enough, something halfway rationale does come to mind.

Changing those same values of "40" to "85" brings the png image in from the bottom right hand corner. Actually could see that one inversely coming after having used "-15" as a value first.

85. Sold. This way the title stays clear and readable the longest. For now. Sure did like that more professional blend when the clips were switched on Tracks 2 and 3, though.... *hm* =)

Happy Safe Surfing out there.. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

OpenShot :: Organizing Files aka Oy, VEY!

Sooo.. have started to really get serious about making some videos out of the literally tens upon tens of thousands of still images and movie clips I've taken out in the front yard here. Have dabbled with about six, eight videos now, and immediately it became clear it was getting out of hand QUICK.

The part that is getting out of hand is the organization of all the related and inter-related files. Movies the size I'm making don't really take that many files right now but it was still a mess already. In the process of changing things out (moving some files around and renaming for better consistency), I've managed to freak out the OpenShot Video Editor a time or two, too. *oops*

You have a couple choices if you manage to do the same. You can start over which has actually helped me lose a few pesky bugs I'd planted in my videos. Or if you've already got a pretty intricate video project set up and working, you can try helping OpenShot refind what you reorganized.

On that last part, an example might be like I had earlier where I'd snipped the doodah out of a clip and then done all kinds of tweaks, effects, yadda. May just be that I don't know the entire of OpenShot shortcuts and fail-safes yet, but I was not up for the task of recreating that clipped snippet from scratch.

There may be several ways to help OpenShot relocate moved files but this one is what proved cognitively friendly for me:

  • Make sure the "Project Files" tab is active, is the one you're working out of
  • Right click over whichever file a little popup window is complaining can no longer be found
  • Click "File Properties". It's at the bottom of the little popup window for me
  • Enter the file's new full computer path there where it says "File Name:"
  • Quickly save your project. I say this one because that seemed to make a difference here (SOMETIMES).

On that last part, at other times... not so much (did quickly saving the project make a difference). The file path would occasionally and very frustratingly revert back to the old now non-existent file path for some reason. It could be as simple as I was missing something pretty basic.. or not. Therein lies the oy factor.

Learned another little something about OpenShot's interoperability that had escaped me at first. You're not actually loading files into your project. I was wondering why the "*.osp" files were so tiny. It's because it's about linking rather than embedding as the project moves along.

Found that out accidentally while updating, prettying up the text alignment on a title .svg file earlier. For no particular reason (ok, maybe LAZY), I decided to double click the existing file on the "Project Files" tab rather than delete and start over. So I updated the text in my Inkscape .svg file then clicked the pre-existing file name there on that "Project Files" tab. The visual changed immediately and reflected the new file change there in OpenShot's "Video Preview" panel (right side of the program). That little 4-watt light bulb flicked on overhead again a second later.

BUT.. I'm ignoring the light bulb this time. It suggests trying to use as few files as possible in creating videos over time. I'm thinking that could get messy and potentially overwhelming real quick. So my process will be to give each and every video its own copy of all files even though that will mean duplication up the wazoo for a handful of files over time.

The reason for that CHOICE is... cognition/memory based. From one second to the next all day every day I forget "systems" I've established to do things. Guaranteed I'll be smoking along making videos a few weeks from now and will absolutely freaking forget that the one "outro" file is designed to be 100% consistent, dependable throughout the lifetime of my video making. Ok, not forever but for a few months... or few videos, at the least.

If I use one single file for all videos then decide a week from now to change it for some silly one-of-a-kind video, I've just messed up all the other projects sitting symlinked to that same file as they twiddle their thumbnails in the wings. And yes, files can be write-protected, but it's just easier this way. It's just another kind of system that will be less painless even though it's destined to eat up more hard drive space over time. You do what you gotta do, you work with what you gots and don'ts gots... *grin*

Happy Safe Surfing out there...

And PS Yes, my .svg files are going in the automatically created "Thumbnail" folder where they'll sit side by side with .png files generated as OpenShot works its magic. It's a cognitive thing. I'll know to go looking for images there in a thumbnail file where images bearing similar names will already await. So far, that method doesn't seem to twerk OpenShot's britches any. Yayhoo for small blessings. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

OpenShot Video Editor :: Getting Started

Haven't tried the OpenShot Video Editor yet but were thinking of giving it a go? Don't do what I did.. I jumped right in and... found myself struggling for a few days before I, gack, read the destructions. You can find them by clicking "Help" in the top menu bar and then clicking "Contents". Keyboard shortcut offered is the universal "F1" key. That worked here but YMMV (your mileage may vary) depending on the entire of your computer situation.

Reason I ended up in Help was my second video starting glitching. It was hiccuping inconsistently as it ran through the clips. First clip faded as desired then hiccuped out one last clearly viewable frame after the fact. Next clip nada. Third clip hiccuped a single frame both at the beginning AND the end. *hm*

Turned out by reading the instructions labeled "Learn OpenShot in 5 Minutes!", I had music clips in the second track and video in the first. Whether or not that was the only thing wrong (or if rearranging things also quietly deleted the real glitch causer), I don't know. BUT.. switching them around so that they were set up reversed as "Learn OpenShot in 5 Minutes!" depicts = no hiccups. Yayhoo, we have video (to be uploaded soon)!

Happy Safe Surfing out there!

PS Tried to get a printscreen to go with purely for posterity but, um, hm. What I needed didn't happen here on Ubuntu. I NEEDED... to be able to grab the that top bar showing the word "Help". It comes and goes in Ubuntu, you have to put your cursor (pointer) up there first. Since I was trying to.... oh, shoot, wait. One sec...........

Speaking of glitches, forgot about the "PrtSc" key. Been years since I've had a computer where it actually worked. Still didn't quite capture what I wanted. Was able to display and printscreen the word "Help" but printscreen refused to operate with the Help dropdown menu dropped and displaying the word "Contents".

Sooo.. got half what I went after, I'm over it... Tired but still wanting to play a little in OpenShot before the night's over.. Priorities! :)

PPS Might have misunderstood but over at the Ubuntu-Users listserv, I got the impression that software title bars might not be playing catch-me-if-you-can anymore in one of the latest releases... YAYHOO TIMES TWO (IF TRUE)!

Debian :: Searching for potential packages

My next great tech adventure is in full swing right now. Am creating videos using the OpenShot Video Editor. Tried this software and Avidemux before but it was a horrific fail, cognitively as well as regarding the obsolete array of dis-hardware I eternally have on hand k/t to being low income.

So... this is the newest New Year and I actually have a workable setup going. k/t there goes to... a kindly silent angel investor. *waving*

Right now while I'm waiting for *bleeped* dialup to load two pages simultaneously (oh, the horror), thought I'd real quick write one handy tip garnered recently from the Debian-User listserv. And that handy tip izzz:

  • Open your favorite terminal. One that came with my setup is GNOME Terminal (Debian package gnome-terminal)
  • Type in apt-cache search [package name] (worked here without being root, yay)

As example for the missing software I encountered today, [package name] is replaced with "libavformat". And there was actually a hit that has potential > "libavformat-extra-53". We'll see if that will do it (but it'll be a few or three hours k/t dialup). *grin*

Happy Safe Surfing out there.. :)