How I edit videos using Blender (maybe part one?)

A little while ago, Heathenx and I decided to investigate the use of Blender for editing video. I’ve played around with Kino, Kdenlive, and Cinelerra among other things for basic video editing on Linux, none of them has worked for me as well as Blender. If there is one area where Linux currently falls short, it is in the area of video editing. Although I don’t doubt that this will change, I have found that Blender is what gives me the most stable and intuitive way to accomplish what I want in this area.

And what I want, is to be able to do some basic edits of the video from my Flip camera. By ‘basic’ I mean that I want to be able to edit clips, splice them together with some basic fades, add a music track, maybe add a title and a fade-to-black or two. Nothing earth-shattering, but that’s what I’m after.

I’ve used it now on two or three of my Flip videos with great success. Now while it’s fresh in my mind, and after @tmray asked me about how I did it, I thought I’d put together a quick screencast on a whim. A couple of notes first:

1. Yes, Blender is a bit daunting at first. Sure, there is a learning curve. But it’s not all that steep for what we’re trying to accomplish, but it’s there. I won’t lie to you. But I think there is a learning curve with any video editing application regardless of platform.

2. I am no Blender expert. I am well and truly a Blender newb. So if you watch this and have any Blender experience, you’ll likely find things that I’m doing wrong, or things that could be done much quicker. Don’t hesitate to post suggestions in the comments. I’m all about the learning. ;)

3. In this screencast I cover only a couple of basic things: How to import videos into Blender, how to shorten and move them, how to create a cross fade between clips and how to output the final video. I may do a couple more screencasts on this to cover things like creating a title screen, fading to black and adding and editing a soundtrack.

Anyway, enough of the blather. You’ll find the screencast right here.
Update: I’ve now done 3 Blender screencasts. Here are the posts with part 2 and part3.

13 thoughts on “How I edit videos using Blender (maybe part one?)

  1. Thank you so much for doing this! I have been trying various things under Linux with my Flip and have been repeatedly frustrated with cinelerra and kdenlive – each had real shortcomings. I’ve been wanting to try blender for animating text (for credits etc), but I had no idea I could use it as video editor. Looking forward to more screencasts.

  2. Scotty – No problemo. Hope you found it useful. I’ve got a few ideas for some more blender video editing screencasts as well. I’ll hopefully follow this up in the next day or three .

    The problem with blender is that it IS a complex program. It does so many things that it seems very daunting to someone just looking to edit video. I hope by illustrating some simple and useful techniques that people will be able to make better use of it just for the video editing end of things.

    And the screencasts will be definitely aimed at the newbies since I am well and truly a Blender newbie myself. :)

  3. Congratulations on finding Blender.

    Blender is simply leagues ahead in stability and ability when it comes to video right now.

    Some of the controls will seem odd (right click selecting, for example) and are largely there to maintain consistency with the other Blender elements.

    Couple the Sequencer with the compositor and you can do some pretty incredible things. Unfortunately, I can only offer up two animatics I did for usplash elements, but you can hopefully get the picture. Both were done entirely with Blender using elements from Inkscape:

    http://troy-sobotka.blogspot.com/2008/07/usplashus-interruptus.html
    http://troy-sobotka.blogspot.com/2008/07/startup.html

    In the end, Blender is a very capable application for delivering motion picture output. Couple that with the nodal compositor and you can do titling, effects, etc.

    The one important thing you missed? “k” for cutting. ;)

    Great work on the screencast.

  4. Thanks for the compliments Troy. I’m sure there are a ton of other shortcuts that I probably missed as well. :)

    I took a look at those links. Great stuff. That 2nd link startup animation is so nice. Completely unique from any other OS or distro I’ve seen. Is that something that’s available for xubuntu? I think it would be great for a distro to have something totally unique like that.

  5. There are quite a few shortcuts.

    I forgot to mention that Blender is nearly 100% configurable. This includes using the left mouse button for selecting instead of the right. If you drag the top menu down, you can uncover some of those custom tweaks.

    The second pre-visualization was implemented for Fluxbuntu about sixteen centuries ago. It was ultimately brute forced into existence by none other than Tonic Artos – one of the brilliant minds in our ecosystem.

    Perhaps there is a collaborative tutorial in our future? It would be most excellent to get a screencast breakdown of extremely simple step-by-step lessons to get people up and running and perhaps take them up to the next level with visual effects, titling, etc.

    What needs to be sussed out further is the ‘ideal’ format for video streams input to prevent lagging during playback, etc.

    You can ‘proxy’ your sequences in Blender as well — allowing you to cut extremely high resolution footage in realtime. The proxy reduces the resolution of the footage and uses it as the playback / editing source until you render at 100%. It is a very common practice, and luckily Blender offers it in a relatively painless fashion.

    Maybe we should get some sort of email cycle going to push this into reality…

  6. Richard, very good!
    Once upon a time I looked at Blender, felt totally overwhelmed and put it aside. Your screencast makes me think maybe i should take another look..my hats off to you. ;-)

  7. Thank You so much! That was a great video and did exactly what I needed to learn. Thanks again! Any future videos will be lovely!

  8. Thank you so much!

    My only issue is the effort needed to locate this… literally nothing good comes up for common searches like \how to make videos in blender\. Would be great if you adjusted the tags on this post + cross-posted a link on ubuntu forums.

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