The origins of the Flow Game 🎥

Let’s kickstart the new year with a short & simple blog post, as a way to get me back on the blogging treadmill, and as a way to ensure my blog still works fine (I have just finished a very heavy-handed migration and database encoding surgery for my blog, which took months to solve… that’ll be a story for another blog post, if anyone is interested? 🤔 and yes, I’m totally using emojis and exotic languages in this post just to see if it still breaks Planet GNOME. わたしは にほんごがすこししかはなせません!)…

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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:

With this review, I wanted to:

  • Satisfy my own curiosity and then share the key findings; one of the things that annoyed me some months ago is that I couldn’t find any good “up close” review video to answer my own technical questions, and I thought “Surely I’m not the only one! Certainly a bunch of other people would like to see what the beast feels like in practice.”
  • Make an audio+video production I would be proud of, artistically speaking. I’m rather meticulous in my craft as like creating quality work made to last (similarly, I have recently finished a particular decorative painting after months of obsession… I’ll let you know about that in some other blog post 😉
  • Put my production equipment to good use; I had recently purchased a lot of equipment for my studio and outdoors shooting—it was just begging to be used! Some details on that further down in this post.
  • Provide a ton of industrial design feedback to the Purism team for future models, based on my experience owning and using almost every laptop type out there. And so I did. Pages and pages of it, way more than can fit in a video:

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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!
2015-07-31-1 2015-07-31-2
When thinking of a symphonic orchestra, one typically imagines a bunch of musicians on a stage in a symphonic house or in a pit during an opera performance. In this case however, that’s only part of their activities. As you will see in the video, this particular orchestra puts a lot of effort into creating social events for people to attend—cocktails, circus shows, dinners, art exhibitions, etc. Pretty cool.
For the video’s soundtrack, they initially suggested the “galop” of Igor Stravinsky’s Suite n° 2 for chamber orchestra. After my first two draft edits however, I came to the conclusion that it was not a good fit: the tempo was very fast and nearly constant throughout the piece, with no place for respite, leading to a frenetic chain of cuts all over the place that left you bewildered at the end. The folks at the FOSDL thought it was pretty good already, but I was not satisfied with myself.

— “How about I dig around for a more dance-like tune we can use?”, said I.
— “Sure. Surprise me!”, they replied.

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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!

GStreamer Hackfest 2013: Moving Images

I’m back from this year’s GStreamer hackfest, which was fantastic as usual — an intersection of great minds, big challenges, flaky Wi-Fi and good food. Christian already did a generic summary, so I’ll be narrating from the GNonLin/GES/PiTiVi perspective. See the end of this blog post for a nice video retrospective.
Edward provided an initial patch to improve the behavior of timestamps and seeking in GNonLin, while Nicolas “Stormer” Dufresne fixed two bugs causing deadlocks. Nicolas spent a lot of time discussing with Wim Taymans, Edward Hervey, Sebastian Dröge and other hackfesters about the architecture of GNonLin in light of GStreamer 1.x. He also fixed looping for the Ogg demuxer in pull mode and, with some help from Mathieu “Forest Ranger” Duponchelle, fleshed out the design for a new tree data structure for GNonLin.
Mathieu the Moustached Avenger worked on implementing keyframes in GES, paving the way for him to create a user interface to animate any effect property in PiTiVi. That user interface will most likely depend on him working on the clutter timeline canvas, so I’m looking forward to improvements in that area.
Thibault “Keyboard Crusher” Saunier finished the implementation of GES Containers and clip groups, then worked on implementing — at long last — audio mixing in GES. This is an essential feature of multitrack audio/video editing, and I’m really happy to see that feature make its comeback for the next release of PiTiVi. This work will also depend on Mathieu’s keyframes UI. A proper reimplementation of video mixing remains to be done, however.
There are lots of outstanding things to solve in GNonLin and GES. Nicolas has a bunch of ideas for things to improve and redesign in GNonLin and I expect much collaboration between Thibault and him to optimize the entire stack for better reliability and performance (for example, adding caps filters to allow realtime downscaling of videos to improve preview performance, configurable downstream buffering for playback to avoid frame drops in CPU-intensive parts of a timeline, etc.). GNonLin and GES have much potential to allow us to be a lot smarter than before.
Personally, I spent most of my time testing, discussing and hacking on some new features for PiTiVi.