Linux Video Tools

Openshot Video Editor
Openshot Video Editor

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to describe what I have found out recently about capturing, editing and burning DVDs of videos using Linux. I have been editing video and burning DVDs for years on Windows. I started long ago when the tools were barely functional and finding a set of tools that understood a common set of file formats was quite a challenge. The situation on Windows has matured over the years and currently you can purchase for a very small price a set of tools that will allow you to capture, edit and burn both DVDs and BluRay disks with remarkable ease.

The situation on Linux Mint is almost that good. Currently I cannot find software that allows editing and burning the BluRay disk media with titles and menus, but one certainly can edit the videos themselves. Read on for the full story.

Capture of Video

Video cameras are very affordable these days. A waterproof / dust-proof camcorder capable of 1080p capture is around $200. So all those videos from your vacation can easily be brought home. And of course most smart phones of any persuasion also capture video as well as pictures.

SimpleScreenRecorder can be installed from the Software Manager of Linux Mint 17 [LM17] and works well to capture video of the screen for tutorials and other purposes. I have put together a YouTube tutorial for SSR and will edit this post to include that when the video is available.

Here’s a video showing how to use SimpleScreenRecorder:

OpenShot Video Editor

The OpenShot video editor is an excellent editor for simple problems. You can slice and dice your video up into clips, zoom, add titles, add transitions between clips and change the audio tracks with a simple to understand interface.

Openshot Video Editor
Openshot Video Editor

I’m not going into a complete tutorial here, but only introduce the software and suggest that it’s a great place to start in establishing your video tool suite. Openshot is completely HD aware, so if your video target is YouTube, then you are all set. Capture your HD video by whatever means and then edit it and upload it to YouTube. If you want to be a YouTube Video Star, OpenShot is a great place to start editing your videos.

You can install OpenShot from the Software Manager and get the latest version. It works fine from there.

Openshot in the Software Manager
Openshot in the Software Manager

Authoring DVDs

If your target is to burn DVDs in addition to uploading videos to YouTube, then DVDStyler is the tool you will want to start with. Unfortunately, DVDStyler is broken as installed on LM17 by the Software Manager. Here is a LM Forum Post that tells how to install DVD Styler so it works on LM17.

DVD Styler from 2015-10-01 15:02:00
DVD Styler

DVDs of course require a set of menus that are interpreted by the DVD player so that you can easily navigate the DVD to play the portions that you want. There is a complex language of options, and other resources such as images and motion menu videos that the DVD player interprets. DVDStyler supports most of these options in a very easy to understand scheme. You can build DVDs with multiple titles, chapter menus for each title, motion menus, change the video background or audio for any of these menus, control the sequence of videos played when menu buttons are pressed and a myriad of other things all with a menu and property dialog based interface. Just exploring DVDStyler while you build a DVD will give you a deep appreciation of the complexity and power of the DVD authoring functions.

Video Tool Chain

After you have used OpenShot to create your video, then use the Export function to write a DVD file. If you choose DVD Widescreen, you’ll get the best match of the DVD format for the modern TVs. Almost all TVs and Monitors are 1080 HD and 16:9 aspect. The maximum resolution DVD is 720 lines rather than 1080, but the wide screen format is supported.

Once you have created the .DVD file, you can check it using the VLC Player which will happily play this .DVD file format. This DVD file format contains both the video and audio streams in such a way that they do not need to be re-encoded before the special VOB files of the DVD are written.

Now using DVDStyler, you can drop the DVD files into a sort of timeline, and then begin building the menus to present them and allow navigation to interesting portions of them. Designing a DVD and it’s menus is like designing a website. It is not about the content. The Content is in the video files. The menu are about “Presentation” and “Sales”. Show me what is most interesting and allow me to go right to the parts that I may want to experience.

Sometimes motion menus are interesting. These show short clips of the title chapters to lead you to the parts you want to sell. Sometimes a motion background on the menu is enough where a portion of the video or another video entirely, plays in the back ground of one or more menus to sell the job. And of course you can audio to the image or video of the background of any of the menus.

Once all this design is done, DVDStyler can create an ISO file of the DVD than you can burn to a DVD. DVDStyler will burn the DVD directly, but I never do this. I always use Brasero to test the DVD by mounting the ISO file and “playing” it to test the menus. After all the menus of a DVD are complex software and they are likely to have bugs that you need to fix such as buttons that go the wrong place, or menu images that are not the ones from the chapter you intended. With great power comes frequent mistakes. To test a DVD right click on the ISO file and choose Disk Image Mounter. This mounts the DVD and then you can open it with Brasero to play the DVD.

Burning the DVD

When you are ready to burn the DVD, put your media in the drive and right click on the ISO file.

Burn a DVD from 2015-10-01 15:04:39
Burn the ISO file

Choose Brasero. Do no choose Disk Image Writer. Although this sounds plausible, this actually is a Hard Drive backup function which writes a compressed Hard Drive backup image. Brasero is the program which burns ISO files to media.

Burn an ISO to Media
Burn an ISO to Media

Brasero burns the image to the media and then checks it by reading it back and checking a checksum of the image to make sure it burned correctly.

The author of DVDStyler has the plan to enhance it to allow building BluRay disks. At this time I could not find any free software that provides this function on Linux. I currently use Corel Video Studio to build and burn BluRay disks on Windows. As you can see it is quite affordable, I think it comes with a trial period and I’ve burned many DVDs and BluRay disks over the past few years with this product. However, I look forward to a Linux solution as well and will watch for the upcoming DVDStyler update.

Enjoy, ww