Kino: An Easy-Does-It but Incomplete Video Editor



Video editing in any operating system is a wide-open experience. Unlike word processing and audio editing tools, video editing apps present a wider range of options. The Kino Video Editor is a very capable video editing solution that will appeal to novices and moderate users alike.

It lacks the full range of sophisticated features that seasoned video pros require. Still, it is a very impressive editing tool that is easy to use and performs well. It is a very good choice for handling many basic video editing functions.

In terms of familiarity and usefulness, Kino ranks very comfortably with such well-known video apps as Cinellera, OpenShot, Lives, Kdenlive and Pitivi. In comparing their tool sets, Kino lacks the rigorous track-mixing features that some of these other packages boast.

Still, Kino does an admirable job of handling most typical video editing tasks. It is a GTK+-based non-linear digital video editor. It is very adept at importing raw AVI and DV files, as well as capturing frames from digital camcorders using the raw1394 and dv1394 libraries. It exports to camcorders using the ieee1394 or video1394 libraries. It handles exports in many usable formats with ease.

Snappy Setup

Kino is readily available from leading distro repositories. This makes getting it and installing it a one- or two-click process. It also means that you will not run into missing library dependencies.

Kino does not need much in the way of setup. It has a very basic preferences as well. For instance, the defaults panel allows modifications to Normalization, Audio and Aspect Ratio for new projects. But the program is smart enough to override them for existing projects.

You can easily set the capture location and the file options along with the attached device selected. It is just as simple to select from a variety of display options using checklists and drop-down lists in the Display Panel. Separate panels make it quick and easy to define Audio, Jog/Shuttle and Misc choices in their own panels.

Format Friendly

Perhaps the key reason that more experienced videographers shy away from Kino is its targeted use. It is a non-linear digital video editor. That said, Kino supports DV-based (libdv and ffmpeg DV) codecs, PAL or NTSC, AVI (type1 or type2) or Raw DV files as well as Quicktime DV format.

While the import list is limited, Kino exports in a number of formats. These include DV over IEEE 1394, Raw DV, DV AVI, still frames, WAV, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. It also handles Quicktime DV format.

Kino is flexible in this area thanks to its gdk-pixbuf structure. This gives it support for a number of essential file formats such as BMG, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PPM, SVG, Targa, TIFF and XPM. Other popular formats such as MP3, Ogg Vorbis, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, ffmpeg and MPEG-4 require additional libraries. These are readily available and are often included in the installation package of key distros.

Focal Point

Kino’s range of formats makes it a nearly ideal solution for video cam users. It attempts to convert imported files to DV format. This conversion step is not always successful.

This imposes a sometimes unworkable burden. You might have to manually convert the footage taken from other video devices into Kino using a third-party application. But if your domain is in DV sources, then Kino gives you a hefty supply of editing tools with little or no importing hassles

For instance, you can edit, split, trim and add filters. You can also publish your video to some online video sites such as the Bliptv video sharing site using an extensible scripting interface. Kino works well with capturing video from a Firewire-connected DV device.

Kino’s strength is its ability to load multiple video clips to cut and paste portions of video/audio to a new composition. Saving the new file automatically presents you with a list of format choices.

Another nice feature is Kino’s ease of use in recording back to the camera. It is a seamless process to capture video to disk in Raw DV and AVI format, in either type-1 DV or type-2 DV.

Feature Folly

Another Kino strength is the transitions tool kit. Think of this as the ability to easily do with your video what you do with your digital photo collections.

For example, Kino makes it easy to add scene video transitions between scenes. The long list includes Fade to/from color, Dissolve, Push Wipe, Barn Door Wipe, Color Differences (and Similarities), wipes and Blue or green chroma key. Also included is compositing with key frames and transformations.

The filters for audio affects are not nearly as extensive. But audio gives you less to edit. Kino lets you Silence, Fade In/Out, add a Gain envelope, Dub from a file and Mix from a file.

Color Me Filtered

I keenly like Kino’s color-altering palette filters for video affects. These include Black/White, Sepia, Reverse (such as inverse or negative), Mirror, Kaleidescope, Swap (flip), Fade From Black, Fade to Black, Blur (triangle), Soft Focus, Color Hold, Titler, Superimpose, Charcoal Drawing, Jerkiness, Brightness, Contrast, Gamma, Hue, Saturation, White Balance (color temperature) and Pan and Zoom.

Kino even has tools for other neat visual affects. The background generator lets you create solid color, gradient, color ranges, noise and image import capabilities.

An effects preview option eliminates the need to view the results in a full playback. An effects plugin API lets you update and expand Kino’s potential.

Using It

A vertical clip strip on the left edge of the app window keeps track of captured scenes. Manipulating them is an easy task. Just grab and move them.

The interface is easy to use. Just click on the function you want to perform. Select the portions of the captured footage and select the desired action, such as trim, cut, insert, etc. Do the same thing to apply the audio and video effects. When finished with the editing task, click the rendering button to activate the results.

Unlike other video editing apps, Kino applies the effects you add immediately. So you do not have to wait until your are finished to view the results. This lets you work in sections and see the results for each one.

Kino builds in lots of neat user short cuts. For example, you can type titles in the editing window and edit the text as you want it displayed in the frame. You do this much like you would in a word processor. You can center text, modify its shape and size, etc.

A benefit of this approach is that the rendering is done as you work. So saving the finished product is much faster than doing a huge data dump from scratch, as happens in other video editing apps.

Bottom Line

Kino falls short as a professional-level video editing tool. But for beginner-to-moderate user needs, it is a fast and simple video editor. It is particularly handy to capture videos and compile them into a new display file. It is also handy to do trim and editing quickly from a video cam.

The biggest drawback with Kino is its inability to handle tracks. This makes it impossible to use it for editing tasks like synchronizing audio. But if you want to spend minimum time on video editing tasks, Kino is the app to do it.

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