Reviewing the Librem 15

Following up on my previous post where I detailed the work I’ve been doing mostly on Purism’s website, today’s post post will cover some video work. Near the beginning of October, I received a Librem 15 v2 unit for testing and reviewing purposes. I have been using it as my main laptop since then, as I don’t believe in reviewing something without using it daily for a couple weeks at least. And so on nights and week-ends, I wrote down testing results, rough impressions and recommendations, then wrote a detailed plan and script to make the first in depth video review of this laptop. Here’s the result—not your typical 2-minutes superficial tour:

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Capturing the essence of a cool symphonic orchestra through video

One of the things I do as part of my varied service offering at idéemarque is filmmaking, sound and video editing—as some of you must have realized by now, I have this undying passion for storytelling and the making of motion picture.

So when a symphonic orchestra requests my help to make a promotional video for them, and gives me carte blanche when it comes to creative freedom, you can imagine I’m pretty thrilled!

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Help us get the GUADEC 2014 videos published

For those who could not attend GUADEC 2015, video recordings have been processed and published here. You might wonder, then, what happened to the GUADEC 2014 videos. The talks in Strasbourg were recorded indeed, but the audio came from the camera’s built-in microphones (so no truly directional mic and no line-in feed). This is problematic for a number of reasons:

  • We were in the city center of Strasbourg with no air conditioning, which means that the windows were open so we heard all sorts of noises (including cars passing on the stone pavement, construction work, etc.) in addition to background noise.
  • One of the rooms did not have a speaker microphone/amplified sound system
  • The camera microphones being far from the speaker means that you hear noises from the audience (such as chairs moving)

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How do you visually represent a project’s timeline?

Here is a fun example to illustrate why software development in general is a complex endeavour:

  1. You think you’re going to fix a tiny problem: “hey, maybe we could make ‘s welcome dialog look a bit nicer“.
  2. Eventually, someone proposes a design or idea that looks interesting, and you realize that to truly realize it, you should also implement an audacious new feature: a way to visually represent an entire timeline as a thumbnail (that one is an open question, by the way; if you have some clever ideas, feel free to share them)
  3. …and to display new feature B properly, you should also consider—ideally—being a good citizen and implementing feature C upstream, in the toolkit you use instead of doing your own thing in your corner.

This kind of serendipity and interdependence happens regularly in FLOSS applications like Pitivi where we prioritize quality over “meeting shareholders’ deadlines and objectives”, which is why we sometimes take more time to flesh out a solution to a problem: we aim for the best user experience possible, all while negotiating and working with the greater software ecosystem we live in, instead of silently piling up hacks in our application… and we depend on the involvement of everyone for things to progress.

2013 open source video editor user survey

What was initially planned as a one-question referendum for Pitivi users (how critical is it for us to have perfect xptv import on the upcoming release) became a full-fledged survey to give us a clearer picture of what users care the most about these days. If you’re a fan of Free Software and video editing, please take a few seconds to fill this survey. Please please share this with everyone you know who is interested in Free and Open-Source video editing. Thanks!

Version française: la prochaine version de Pitivi approche rapidement. Suite à une discussion concernant nos priorités à court terme afin de pouvoir sortir une nouvelle version au cours de l’été (avec un peu de chance), nous avons concocté un court sondage sur votre utilisation des logiciels de montage vidéo libres. S’il-vous-plaît, veuillez prendre quelques secondes pour répondre à ce délicieux questionnaire, et n’hésitez pas à en parler à tous ceux autour de vous qui s’intéressent à l’édition vidéo libre!

Lightworks is not anywhere close to open-source

I’ve seen everybody hail Lightworks as the messiah that will make all other open source video editors irrelevant. So far, I didn’t blog about this (because frankly, life’s too short to be pessimistic, and I was also quite curious as to how it would play out and wanted to give EditShare the benefit of the doubt—after all, I’m a fan of video editing software in general).

However, after all these years, most of the blogs or news sites (including the most popular ones) still don’t bother checking for factual accuracy and just blindly accept what corporate press releases would have them believe. I would have thought they would have grown more careful with time, but the situation has generally not improved, to the point where I am now compelled to say this now, officially, in public: Lightworks is currently not open-source and never has been. Furthermore, if it ever is open-sourced, it most likely won’t be anywhere close to a truly open project.

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How do you visualize grouping?

Here’s a tricky usability question: how would you represent the actions of grouping and ungrouping clips on a timeline? (Un)grouping is used for changing the way selections affect a set of clips. It allows you, among other things, to separate and remove the audio from the video of a clip.

It is very hard to find any relevant prior art that could guide me for this metaphor (most applications don’t have icons for these, they are only available through menu items). Inkscape can get away with icons that show “drag handles”, but we don’t have those in Pitivi. (un)grouping is quite an abstract concept, given that it does not visually change the clips in any way, it just changes the way they react to selections.

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GUADEC talk video published

No no no, I said video, Not videos. Seems like even though I spent hours editing and rendering a single recording, I’ve still beat the GUADEC organizers when it comes to “time to publish” ;)

My “neko edit” also has good sound quality (from a dedicated USB microphone) and high resolution versions of the slides and videos used during the presentation… all in HTML5 video glory.

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Canon S95

J’ai décidé de m’offrir un cadeau longuement attendu et d’acheter un S95 (ironiquement, après que Eugenia ait rhâlé qu’il offrait moins de fonctionnalités vidéo que d’autres appareils Canon). C’est une mise à jour justifiable par rapport à ma Konica Minolta DiMage Z5 achetée il y a cinq ans.

J’ai passé des semaines à faire des recherches, à fouiller le manuel, lire des reviews, regarder les specs, voir les vidéos d’échantillons sur Youtube/Vimeo et les images sur Flickr. J’ai marchandé avec à peu près toutes les boutiques de photo du centre-ville.

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Video editors usage statistics: duty calls


Somebody is wrong on the Internet.I can’t resist biting OpenShot’s bait. Jonathan, with all due respect, I think you haven’t paid enough attention in statistics class (or you paid too much attention and you are trolling). Reasons your conclusions may be wrong:

La styromousse blanche

Hier, j’ai passé six heures à faire du tournage pour un mini clip (entre la pub et le documentaire…) en intérieur. C’était amusant parce que ça faisait des années que j’avais pas fait de tournage, parce que j’avais un excellent matériel (deux caméscopes HD, mes deux trépieds, deux lampes de 500 watts, mon réflecteur, etc.) et que, pour la première fois, j’avais des professionnels autour de moi (et donc un vrai éclairagiste et des gens qui savent cadrer, etc.).

Donc, pour faire court, ce que j’y ai découvert: les réflecteurs photographiques c’est bien, mais pour faire rebondir 500 watts d’éclairage halogène en intérieur sans créer d’ombres ou aveugler, une grande plaque de styromousse blanche, c’est mieux. La styromousse diffuse la lumière et en absorbe une partie, au lieu de tout refléter directement.

The state of video editors 4 years later

I started using Ubuntu Linux as my desktop near the end of 2004 and tried to help the PiTiVi project, because it was the most promising video editor project out there. Not a lot has happened since. Well yes, a lot has happened on the gstreamer front. PiTiVi is a nice video player now (sorry). But it can’t even be used for the most basic stuff of video editing. Sadly I am not a programmer by trade, or I would have made it happen.

It is a pleasure to see that my mockups I did about a year ago for PiTiVi were noticed and mentioned somewhere in planet gnome. I would also heartily recommend Eugenia’s excellent mockup (and similar to mine somewhat, in the sense that we both ripped the ideas out of Vegas Video’s excellent user interface)

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De l’Organe de l’Âme, critique de la raison pratique

Après avoir traîné la tâche tout l’été dans mon gestionnaire de tâches, j’ai finalement accompli ce que je voulais faire depuis des mois: restaurer l’organe de l’âme avant que Tchernobyl n’explose.

Alors pour ceux qui veulent s’épargner le blabla explicatif de «qu’est-ce que c’est?» et «pourquoi ça a pris tant de temps?», vous pouvez voir le film sur Sachez que c’est un film abandonné et qui n’avait été que partiellement monté, alors si vous n’y comprenez rien, vous devrez faire un pèlerinage à La Mecque, ça va de soi.

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