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Playing With PiTiViPlaying With PiTiVi

Christopher Tozzi

January 14, 2010

3 Min Read
Playing With PiTiVi

I recently tested the open-source video editor OpenShot, so I thought it would only be fair for me also to play around with PiTiVi, the editor that at this point is set to come installed by default with Ubuntu 10.04 when it debuts in April 2010. I found some time to do so today. Read on for the details.

Ubuntu developers’ decision to ship a video editor by default is meant to make Ubuntu more complete out-of-the-box, and to help it compete with proprietary operating systems that come with video editing capabilities built-in. PiTiVi’s inclusion in the software stacks comes at the expense of the GIMP image editor, which will be absent from the software stack in Lucid.

There are a surprising number of video-editing applications available for Linux, given its relatively small user base. They range from very basic programs offering specific and limited functionality, like Kino and Avidemux, to complex, professional-grade applications, such as Cinelerra.

PiTiVi, the editor that made the cut for inclusion in Ubuntu 10.04, is a newcomer to the Linux video world, having issued its first stable release only a few months ago. Written in Python, it’s a non-linear editor designed “to suit both the newcomer and the professional, to be efficient and intuitive,” according to its website.

PiTiVi testdrive

So just how efficient and intuitive is PiTiVi? To test it, I installed the build from Ubuntu 9.10’s repositories and fired it up.

My first impression was that PiTiVi is indeed pretty intuitive. Clips can be added and moved around with simple drag-and-dropping. Here’s a look at its clean, organized interface:

PiTiVi screenshot

PiTiVi screenshot

The application also offers an undo function, which is nice, and something that was missing when I reviewed OpenShot.

Despite its well designed interface, PiTiVi currently suffers from a major weakness in that it lacks support for video transitions and effects. OpenShot comes with a variety of different effects that can be applied to a project to spice up the video. With PiTiVi, however, users have to add effects via some other application before importing their clips.

Adding support for effects is on the roadmap, according to PiTiVi’s wiki, but so far no one has started work on that effort. Until someone implements this feature, the lack of effects will be a major downside for PiTiVi, I suspect.

Serious video professionals may not care much whether or not their editor has support for effects built-in, since they know how to get that functionality from other applications (serious video professionals are probably also going to use something more heavy-duty than PiTiVi).

But the majority of Ubuntu users who will start to rely on PiTiVi when they find it installed on their Lucid systems will likely be majorly disappointed when they discover they can’t add swirls or light effects to their home movies.

Of course, PiTiVi is still a very new application and remains in heavy development, so the features it lacks today may well be implemented before April. If they’re not, however, I’ll be left wondering why the Ubuntu developers chose to go with PiTiVi instead of a more feature-rich and equally intuitive editor like OpenShot.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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