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REAL TALK: Media Production and Workflows on Linux (and Other OSes, too.)

Welcome to the first in a series of threads attempting to discuss and expose people to open source software. Each thread will be about a particular Field or software application, and have a short 'State of the Union' describing the advantages and Drawbacks of an open source workflow/environment in them.

This is not a place to circle-jerk about how superior your chosen solution, open source or not, may be. This is a place to discuss your experience(s) with (in this case) media production on Linux, the tools you use, and what problems and solutions you have run into and come up with. This discussion operates on the assumption that Software is a kind of tool, and there is more than one valid tool-set for most digitally-driven tasks. Please keep this in mind before posting.

What do I hope to accomplish with this? well, first off, help dabblers and OSS enthusiasts to find/check out software solutions for demanding, non "baseline" stuff. Secondarily, help professionals or skilled people find alternative or unique tools in their field.

Please refrain from being hostile to those who work on other operating systems or use commercial workflows. They have both valuable input and a different perspective, especially if they're professionals. Alienating them only serves to reinforce negative opinions about this space, instead of having a productive, helpful dialog. Being evangelical only works on a very small, dim subset of the population.

I'll start us off, and go over my CG and video editing/FX workflow:


Editing

Blender
I use Blender (of course) for a lot of compositing, and the occasional CG render. The node based compositing system is incredibly powerful, but becomes cumbersome for things like finishing and polish.

Blender Tips

Tips:

  • Download and use Filmic_Blender to make your compositing and color management accurate to Film Industry standards and more physically correct
  • If you have shorter sequences or strictly work in film, you may want to skip blender entirely and use Natron
  • Learning a little python can go a loooong way
  • Blender is best suited to very demanding effects and compositing. Stuff involving 3d motion tracking, hud overlays, volumetric lighting, etc.

Natron
This is another node based NLE similar to, and possibly based on (?) blender's compositor. It has the advantage of being compatible with openfx plugins, GMIC, and has several editing-focused quality of life improvements over Blender that make it desireable even in a blender-centric workflow. The biggest issue with it right now is the documentation, but it generally works in the same manner as blender, so this isn't an issue if you've come from that environment. It also has the disadvantage of not being pre-packaged on a multitude of distros.

I use it for short sequences, or to pull something special that blender can't do alone without heavy python scripting or extensions/configurations that would make it less useful for CG by default. Rotoscoping and motion graphics are a breeze here by comparison.

Natron Tips

Tips:

  • Find and build or install the GMIC and extra/arena plugin packages. They extend Natron's functionality significantly
  • enable progressive rendering, GPU acceleration, and get a scratch cache disk if possible

MLT + OpenCV/Frei0r Editors
these are a range of more traditional NLE's (a-la Vegas or Premiere) that are all based on the same framework and plugins. They mainly differ in interface and (unfortunately) Stability under different conditions. They include:

  • Kdenlive
  • Shotcut
  • Flowblade
  • Openshot
  • Probably Others, because of a mix of not-made-here syndrome and fork mania

I like Flowblade the most at the moment, but this is subject to change as Kdenlive gets more stable. They all have similar functionality under the hood, so use the one that you like best, and doesn't crash on you.

I use this software for adding sound, foley, and lighter end touches once I've done the compositing, color grading, and continuity stuff in Blender/Natron

Just the Tip

Tips:

  • Is one crashing on you? literally just install another one and keep going, they're all pretty much interchangeable. It'll save you the hassle of working around whatever broken in the other software.

CG/VFX

Blender
Not a lot more to say here. Blender is a great option for designing/implementing Motion graphics, computer animation, and heavy effects compositing. That's what I use it for, and all things considered, this is one of the earliest OSS Applications in this arena that I think truly competes/outpaces alternatives in a professional capacity. I also use Natron for this occasionally, but it really doesn't deserve its own section in this context.

Yet another Blender Tip Section

Tips:

  • Same as editing section, with these additions
  • Learn Cycles. See a tutorial that uses the old renderer? Pass it over a find one that uses Cycles.
  • Blender Guru and David Revoy's Blend and Paint are good, free resources for learning about compositing and the ins and outs of the software
  • The Greasepencil extension is amazing for 2d animation/motion graphics. Literally unbelievable. Use it if you're thinking into getting into this type of animation.

Synfig
This is very new software, but I think id definitely bears mentioning. It's basically inkscape with a time vector. It makes 2d animation really easy, and is already more stable than flash (not really saying much.) I've been using it to make overlays, logo animations, and elements of other motion graphics, and I absolutely love it for what it is.

Synfig TIps

Tips:

  • Be prepared to dig through som doc on this one. It's still incredibly early in development.
  • If you've used Inkscape or flash, a lot of that skillset transfers.

This is by no means an extensive list, Just my workflow for one facet of what I do on Linux. Other viable tools are definitely out there, I just don't use them because I have as yet not run into an issue my workflow cannot solve in regular operation.

Honorable mentions:

  • Lightworks
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Nuke

Please Share your own experiences, ask questions, express contentment or frustration, tutorialize, and discuss. Don't Limit yourself to VFX and VIdeo editing. This Thread encompasses a much wider set of tools and work in scope. I'd love to hear from people doing

Audio Editing/Music Production

audio source: https://www.youtube.com/user/NoCopyrightSounds
active linux audio community: https://linuxmusicians.com/

Digital Art/Design

set of useful presets and brushes and tools: https://github.com/Deevad
open source art tutorials/blog: http://www.davidrevoy.com/

Photography/Cinematography

CG/Animation/VFX

free Pixar textures: https://www.blendernation.com/2017/02/28/pixar-releases-new-textures-library-creative-commons/

Streaming/YT Content Creation

And anything else you might feel fits this area. I'll be linking resources and software under the headings here as people contribute, and adding headings if I missed something big. Thanks in advance for posting. I hope it'll be as educational for me as it will be for you.

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For the most part this is how I make my videos.

Recording

OBS

Audacity (if I need to split channels)

Editing

For the most part on video I use...

KDenLive (screenshot of current vid I am working on)

Currently learning Final Cut Pro and Adobe shit too.



(not my images)

REAPER for audio (was ported to linux but can't seem to open it?)


(not my screenshot)

Music Sources





I contact the artists before I use their music and I haven't really been turned away yet. Everyone I asked was chill with it.

Drafting

Pages / Libreoffice



(not my screenshots)

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Most of the time if I get stuck I normally ask people for an opinion. Most of my work is done in linux minus the off chance my mac is more useful that day. For the most part my videos I have made for my YT channel that I edit and put together are done in KDenLive and REAPER if I have to adjust sound. Other than that, heres an example of one of my videos.

Largely my workflow is built off of consistant search of free shit to use. How it actually came to be so convenient was that I kept running at it and trying to learn it all. For example: I learned windows movie maker before KDenLive but for what I wanted to do it was like comparing finger paint to an art exhibit. I made my first video in KDenLive in high school and blew everyone away. No one in my class at the time really had a laptop or the ability to really come up with such a thing. I made it on my pentium M laptop, got a lot of praise, and prom then on I was immediately into it and always fiddled with it. It wasn't until the start of 2015 when I would fiddle with GMOD and source demo's (RIP Kitty0706, large part of it goes to him for inspiring me to do this stuff).

Then other tools are based on that they have the expansion that I want. REAPER for example is a real world widely used DAW that I have used since.... I think middle school? 2008... So yeah end of MS going into HS. I recorded podcasts and shit on it in school with friends and even produced a couple beats for music I never put out and have probably lost, lol. I may have to reinstall it after 60 days but its more than worth the effort to use.

Pages and the mac stuff (including adobe on it) is that I want to expand the machines I use. I like to separate what machines do. My streaming and recording box (what KDenLive is on) is my main work station. My mac is going to be my normal editing machine when I have desk space a plenty. Etc...

Why reaper over something like Ardour? I may be wrong, but I thought the Reaper Linux port was pretty incomplete last I checked.

If you have any particulars, or details of your workflow you'd like to share I'm certain they'd be appreciated.

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Will append the end then.

thanks for this @tkoham
I'll be watching this thread closely, especially for audio production/editing. I'm extremely interested in de-Windows-ing myself.
A major hangup for me is VST compatibility. I'm heavily invested in Waves plugins and other VST providers... I've not seen a workable solution that does not break license terms.
It's my experience (about two years stale now) that Linux is not a workable solution for my workflow. I can't wait to be proved wrong!
_pig.

edit: @Aremis I'm surprised to see Reaper here... is it the flexible licensing? My experience with Reaper on all OS's has been abysmal. No hating on you or the program, I'm just not convinced on the platform.

There are ways around VST compatibility problems, but it takes some doing.

The easiest method is using a Linux VST host with Jack to route them into whatever DAW you end up choosing. There are several options, but KxStudio and Carla/Catia are currently the most complete and user friendly.

You'll still need to R the proverbial FM to get everything running smoothly, though. I'd recommend looking over/contacting people at

https://www.linuxmusicians.com/

for more detailed info

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REAPER kicks ass when you get it down. I have mostly used it for music production but I use it a lot in de-noising shit.

You have to learn your way around it to get it down correctly. Its a learning curve over something as retardedly simple as anything apple or Audacity, I'd put it on the same level as Ardour in terms of learning curve, but once you got all the key combos down and the main movements it is more powerful than it appears to be.

@OMGitsManBearPig You can also run max plugins using puredata and a bit of plugin trickery, if that's more your thing.

anything here that is not already in our Mega List?

@Aremis or @tkoham how does Kdenlive compare to something like Openshot 2?

This thread is for discussion of functional workflows that include (but not necessarily use to the exclusion of other software) OSS applications, the problems and solution inherent to them, and resources for enhancing them, whereas the thread you linked seems to be simply cataloging OSS software. Think of it as practice over theory if you like.

I find Kdenlive and the other editors based on the same frameworks to be more flexible when it comes to input media profiles and formatting, and the interface (of kdenlive in particular) to be easier to navigate.

They're very similar in terms of functionality, (all based on the same frameworks and plugin structures) but in the past I've had much worse experiences with openshot than the other MLT-based editors (Shotcut, Flowblade, Kdenlive, etc)

I use them all pretty much interchangeably because they all ship busted versions every once in a while.

Right now my favorite is Flowblade.

Okay, thanks!

I'll need to give Kdenlive a try.

I think flowblade is the nicest MLT based editor right now, and unless you're on arch I doubt you'll be able to get both a current and stable version of Kdenlive.

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Openshot...... Ehhh well its not as bad as shotcut so thats good. I've only used it a little bit and while similar in form, sorta, I like KDL for the very quick cuts and edits while still being of good quality over all. I'm just a bad editor LOL. Neither are better or worse though.

Alright. It's Day 2. Time to update the link sections, and go over my experimentation with linux audio (typically used for audio editing, not music production)

AUDIO EDITING WORKFLOW

Jack
This is something so essential to audio production on Linux that I feel it deserves its own section entirely despite it having little to do with the end user as-is. If we're being honest, the Linux sound subsystem is fiddly and prone to breakage compared to other OSes. OSS is simple and makes sense, but is so old that support for it is waning, and Pulseaudio is a bitch, forcing you to work around rather than with it for the majority of your experiences.

Jack solves all that. If you want to get into linux audio, you need to install, understand, and Use the Jack Audio Connection toolkit.

Even though at first glance it may seem like linux ASIO, it is so much more. I've used it to do denoising and room simulation on live-streamed interviews, believably changing the voice of people going on record who wish to remain anonymous in a live, verifiable manner, and many more amazing things that would normally require specialized software in other environments.

The reason Jack is so essential is not because it is independently powerful, but becasue it lets you link any piece of sound software to any other sound software, in almost any way you can imagine, without any special consideration from the audio developers.

How to JACK it to your satisfaction

Tips:

  • install a jack server interface and patchbay to get the most out of jack without scripting or configuration. I recommend Cadence and the Ladish/Patchbay tools that come with it.
  • need pulseaudio? learn to install an alsa or pulseaudio bridge, and how the conflicting sound servers tend to behave.
  • avoid ubuntu for audio production at all costs. Their sound infrastructure has so many moving parts and duct-tape code galore.

Ardour
This is a Fully Featued DAW, reminiscent of Cubase and Reaper. It is literally what gets shipped on Harrison console installations for interfacing.

I use it for most stuff, having internal routing is a very nice feature that differentiates if from Audacity, it lets me pull sound sources from VoIP or the internet, clean and crossfeed them in a controlled manner, and run spatial simulation, and pump them to broadcasting software, all in one place, no fuss, no muss.

Also very good for mastering on film, there's a plugin to import and view video linearly here.

Tip Jar

Tips:

  • you're gonna want Calf Plugins and Carla to get the most out of the system
  • have a routing grid open at all times. If something isn't working its usually because you've wired it wrong.

Carla
Wanna run vsts on Linux? you're gonna need Carla if you want to do it with any level of consistency or user-friendliness.

Carla is a universal audio plugin host, and I use it to run and route effects and software that can't normally be run in Linux. Not much else to say here.

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Digital art

For the first couple of months after switching to Arch Linux from Windows 7, Paint Tool Sai running under WINE 1.5.5 with some Sai specific patches made up my workflow. However, that WINE version start having what I believe were linking issues against an older version of ncurses, forcing me to switch to a native digital art tool.

Krita

The switch from Sai to Krita had a lot of friction to it, but that was to be expected.

Thankfully, Kirta has pretty good keyboard customization, which quickly grew on me. Not soon after switching, I was able to utilize the temporary layer workflow, navigate, select, manipulate the canvas etc. The only complaint that I have with the shortcuts is that you cannot bind brushes to keys. You can, however, access brushes by tag in a palette widget that pops up around your cursor, but it neither solves the issue and I haven't found myself using it much.

The default brushes Krita offers proved to be the most difficult to adapt to. While using Sai, I preferred using the pen tool with the alpha around 60% and a bunch of custom paint brushes. While Krita's default brushes for painting turned out to be fine, I could not find a brush for linework that I could resonate with. Thankfully, Krita supports addons/resources w/e you want to call them, out of the box. I ended up using deevad's burshpresets and then later on, his charcoal pencils and I absolutely adore these.

Krita's tablet support, paired with the xf86-input-wacom package made my tablet work out of the box. Despite that, I couldn't get tablet settings to persist between sessions, which made me make a script file with calls to xsetwacom act as a config that I had to run every time I plugged in my tablet.

Generally speaking, Krita is a pretty good open-source digital art tool. Compared to PS, Krita would undoubtedly be defeated but it lets me do digital art, and some image manipulation, natively on Linux, without having to jump through the hoops of a VM.

it's the only OSS art application to natively support CMYK afaik, too.

what are you using for color management? have you looked at the colorHUG?

I only do personal artwork so I haven't had any excuse to dig into color management solutions. If it looks good on my monitor, it's good enough.

cool. I've use the pantone spyder with decent results, but their sensors rot over time and cast everything to be too green, looking for a better solution.

I really wish deevad wasn't the only OSS 2d artist out there who likes to share workflow stuff, because people in video tend to give less of a fuck about color management despite it being just as important

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#makeforumsgreatagain #madeathreadaboutit

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