MMM/Tools and Equipment/Linux in film production: Wikis


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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

< Movie Making Manual


What is Linux?

Linux is a piece of software known as a 'kernel.' The name as also been inaccurately applied to an entire operating system known as GNU. GNU/Linux is the preferred method of referring to the operating system. GNU/Linux is a computer operating system which can run on many different types of computer hardware. GNU/Linux is the most famous example of free software. It is developed and maintained by thousands of people around the world. Most GNU/Linux distributions are free of charge. Please take a look at the Wikipedia entry for more info about GNU/Linux.


  • Free (or very inexpensive)
  • Open Source (most distributions, but not all)
  • Bugs are usually fixed very quickly
  • Stable
  • Fast
  • You can modify it to your heart's content, learn from it and even redistribute changes.
  • There is a lot of support available on-line through Wikis and Forums
  • Developers are usually very open to suggestions from users. Much more so than proprietary, closed-source, corporate software developers. If you've got money to spend, then the developers will probably gladly design custom modules for you.
  • Many software options for similar tasks.
  • Many kernels for various uses depending on hardware, resources, and what you want to do on it.


  • Documentation is often a little sketchy depending on the distribution
  • The Macintosh is the Industry standard for most aspects of film production
  • Is again it's own operating system and takes time to get use to (depending on your own speed of picking things up)

But I thought Linux was bad for content creation?

It used to be. But it's grown up. There are already lots of great tools for content creation on Linux (and, yes, lots of them are free).

Why use Linux for film production?

  • Lots of film companies (especially 3D and effects houses) already use Linux. So what? Well, lots of these guys contribute code to the open-source world. For free. So you and I can use code which has been developed at ILM. Examples:
    • Cinepaint, forked from the Gimp, is partially developed by Rhythm and Hues, ILM, and Sony Pictures. It's mainly used for cleanup and dust and scratch removal.
    • OpenEXR is developed by ILM.
  • It's very stable.

Who already uses Linux?



  • Most world famous Computer Science Universities (MIT, CalTech, Paderborn)
  • The Government of the People's Republic of China
  • Google
  • NASA
  • The NSA
  • Large part of French government, public service and administration.
  • The German government installed Suse on 11,000 police computers in Feb 2004
  • The German Railway! - 55,000 computers
  • The city of Vienna, capital of Austria uses a distribution of its own (Wienux) in administration.
  • Cuba 1,500 computers
  • South African public service and administration
  • Some Spanish provinces
  • The United States Navy
  • Venezuela government (60%)
  • Some schools

Film production tools available on Linux

  • There is a huge list of media-related Linux programs here.
  • Most Windows programs can be made to run under Linux using Wine (which is free, and costs no money).

Everything which isn't marked as "commercial" is free!



  • celtx (This has become a very robust tool over time with storyboarding, scheduling and web service capabilities having been added)
  • Open Office with the Script template.
  • Lyx with the Hollywood template (already included)


  • KBudget
  • Grisbi
  • QHacc
  • Quasar - free for one user
  • InfoFlex - commercial
  • Money Dance - very low cost commercial
  • GnuCash
  • LedgerSMB
  • SQL-Ledger - Free
  • Open Office Calc - a little like Microsoft Excel
  • Open Office Base - a database package a little like Microsoft Access
  • PC programmes running under Wine

Review of Linux Budgeting programs on Linux Planet.

Schedule / Project's Manager

The program celtx listed in the "scriptwriting" section has added very nice scheduling capabilities, allowing you to tie in events with items in your scripts.


Storyboard Lite (commercial)

  • PC programs running under Wine

There are no specialized storyboarding programs on Linux but see the "Still image Creation" section below

A useful technique could be to photograph and outline your actors with a vector graphics program, then reposition them behind photographs of your locations. Check out the vector graphics section.

The program celtx, listed in the "scriptwriting" section, has storyboarding capabilities. You would still need to create the images as explained in the previous paragraph but they can be entered into the a template within the celtx application. Notes can be added to the images as well.

Editing, compositing, grading and digital intermediate

  • Blender 3D (free, GPL) While it is known mostly as a 3D modeling/animation package, recent upgrades have added high-end compositing and editing features as well.
  • Cinelerra (free, GPL).
  • Cinelerra unofficial CVS repository developed in parallel to "official" Cinelerra, with additional features, stability and functionality.
  • Cinepaint (free, GPL), no editing
  • Cuisine (no movement since June of 2004)
  • Diva (free, MIT X11) Motion video editing in mono & gstreamer
  • FilmLight Baselight (a DI tool, commercial)
  • Gimp GAP (Gimp animation package), CVS version.
  • IFX Piranha HD (commercial)
  • Jahshaka (free) combines editor, compositor, animator, effects, colour control and text creation. It has not been touched for about a year, and even that movement was minimal.
  • kdenlive (free, GPL) new version in developement -- Wikibook
  • Kino (free, GPL)
  • lives (free, GPL)
  • Linux Video Editor (lve) (frame and GOP accurate editing of MPEG1/2 video files)
  • Linux Video Studio
  • Lumiera (free) Lumiera is still in an early stage of development. It is not usable yet.
  • Main Actor (commercial)
  • Nuke (commercial)
  • Open VIP(video-processing tool for Unix and Windows)
  • Open Movie Editor (free, GPL)
  • Pitivi (free, GPL)
  • Positron (free, GPL) Solo DV a fork of Blender
  • Shake (commercial)
  • Shotcut (free, GPL)
  • Vivia (free, GPL) (multiplatform video editing program)
  • Various commercial packages by Autodesk (formerly known as Discreet).

File conversion tools

  • Avidemux2 A clone of virtualdub
  • FFmpeg a complete solution to record, convert and stream audio and video.
  • GStreamer Open source multimedia framework
  • Handbrake Convert DVDs to MPEG4/AVC
  • MPlayer/MEncoder MEncoder features a wide variety of audio/video filters and support (en)coding with most audio and video codecs
  • Transcode Transcode, another solution to convert and filter audio/video

the link to jahshak has been changed to

  • [1] WinFF is a GUI to the command line video converter FFmpeg

Audio editing

  • Ardour (free, GPL), Protools clone, uses JACK, video-sync via xjadeo.
  • Audacity (free, GPL), not very advanced, but relativly stable, lot of effects via LADSPA.
  • GNUsound (free, GPL), multitrack sound editor for gnome (1 & 2), support LADSPA for sound effects, and JACK for realtime processing.
  • Rezound (free, GPL) PowerFull audio editor
  • Wired (free, GPL)

Still image creation





  • Aqsis (rendering backend) (free, GPL)
  • Art Of Illusion (modeling and rendering)
  • Blender (free, GPL) --Wikibook
  • Pixie (rendering backend) (free, GPL)
  • Wings 3D (free, GPL) --Wikibook
  • Yafray (rendering backend) (free, GPL)
  • SunFlow (open source rendering system for photo-realistic image synthesis)(free)
  • LuxRender (open-source, free software rendering system for physically correct, unbiased image synthesis)
  • Kerkytea (Freeware)

stop motion




  • jlipsync (free, GPL)
  • papagayo (free, GPL)
  • yolo (free,GPL) and Compatible whit Moho and Magpie Timesheet


VCD & SVCD Authoring

  • GNU vcd imager (free, GPL) VCD (VideoCD) BIN/CUE CD image creation and ripping tool
  • qVCDgear (free, GPL) QT frontend to VCDgear
  • tovid (free, GPL) (S)VCD and DVD authoring utilities
  • VCDautomenu (free, GPL) VCD menu generation tool
  • VCDgear converts from and to (S)VCD and mpeg, and does mpeg corrections.

DVD Authoring

  • dvdauthor (Free, GPL) (command line)
  • 'Q' DVD-Author More then just a dvdauthor frontend. Easy to use and intuitive. Key technologies: Templates, Animated Menus, MovieButtons, MovieBackgrounds, Transcode, Multi format DVDs, Slideshow creation, Subtitles.
'Q' DVD-Author
  • dvdstyler Cross platform dvdauthor frontend (Windows and Linux)
  • ManDVD (Free, GPL)
  • DVDLab (using WINE) (Commercial)
  • KDE DVDAuthor Wizard wizard to create DVD from MPEG-2 files
  • kmediafactory template based dvd authoring tool
  • Linux Video Maker graphics interface (GUI) for transcode, mplex, DVDAuthor etc ...
  • polidori Development stalled in 2004. frontend to dvdauthor
  • tovid (Free, GPL) (S)VCD and DVD authoring utilities

File:Tovid-selection.jpgsome tovid menu selections

  • varsha free, java.
  • videotrans a set of scripts that allow its user to reformat existing movies into the VOB format that is used on DVDs

Streaming video

  • Fenice (free, GPL) Open Media Streaming Server formats: mpeg1,4 & ogg/theora for video
  • FFmpeg (free, GPL), ffmpeg read, convert and stream videos in various formats.
  • Flexcast (free, GPL) Stream most of video and audio format.
  • Flumotion (free, GPL), A streaming media server written in python.
  • GStreamer (free, GPL) streaming and convertion.
  • Icecast (free, GPL), stream video (ogg/theora) and audio in various formats.
  • jroar (free, [L]GPL) A java stream cache.
  • Open Media Streaming Project (free, GPL), A project about a whole streaming plateform.
  • Palantir (free, GPL) for streaming with low-end computer
  • VLC (free, GPL) from Videolan Project, to stream and broadcast any source on a Local Area Network.
  • VobStream (free, GPL) a DVD network streaming application

p2p video streaming for low bandwidth

  • freecast (free, GPL), p2p java streaming Ogg Theora video stream provided by Flumotion.
  • Peercast (free, GPL) Support for MP3, OGG Theora and Vorbis, WMA, WMV and NSV


  • Ksubtile GPL
  • Orange Slice, SSA, ASS, SUB, SRT subtitles format (abandonned project since 2005-01-14)
  • Sabbu, ASS, SSA subtitles format
  • Subtitlefix corrects subtitles (*, *..sub) which are not synchronized with the film.
  • USF The Universal Subtitle Format
  • Subtitle Editor ASS, SSA, SubRip, MicroDVD, MPL2, MPsub, SubViewer2.0
  • Gaupol Subtitle editor
  • Gnome Subtitles A subtitle editor for the GNOME Desktop.

Web Authoring

Audio/Video Container/Codec

  • Dirac Dirac is a video codec.
  • FLAC Free Lossless audio codec.
  • Matroska The extensible open standard Audio/Video container.
  • NUT A free container for the masses.
  • Ogg Vorbis Ogg Vorbis is an audio compression format.
  • Snow Snow is an experimental lossy video codec.
  • Theora Theora is an open video codec.
  • Wavpack WavPack is a completely open audio compression format providing hybrid compression mode.
  • XviD XviD is an ISO MPEG-4 compliant video codec.


Specialized and "Ready to use" distribution

  • Caster Caster is a LiveCD whose purpose is for streaming. (apparently dead - page now gives a 404 error)
  • Dynebolic (Free, GPL) most of Linux free products for video, dj, animation, on a LiveCD
  • Garbure (Free, GPL), Several specialized distributions on LiveCD, video, animation, audiovisual performances...
  • ArtistX (formerly MediainLinux) (Free) GNU/Linux LiveCD with additional multimedia packages
  • Elive GNU/Linux LiveCD and distribution, includes cinelerra CVS by default and more applications on their repositories
  • Ubuntustudio (Free) A multimedia creation flavor of Ubuntu.

Personal opinions

Wish List

I love Linux. Don't get me wrong. I think the whole project is perfect and I use Linux all the time. I use Linux for everything. Everything, including video editing.

My wish list is:

  • Flash MX 2004/2005 on Linux (for DVD Menus)
  • Adobe port Premiere over to Linux / Avid port DV Xpress to Linux
  • There are many very promising Open Source video editing packages that one day may become mature enough to compete with Premiere, but I'm porting this one right now with Xen.

Once one of these wishes becomes true then Linux will rock as an NLE platform.

Linux Multi-media forums

I'm somewhat disappointed that many of the forums on Linux multi-media are very quiet. The best forums that I know of are:

  • Doom9 Linux specific multimedia forum on a mostly windows site
  • Video Linux specific multimedia forum on a mostly windows site
  • Gentoo-Multimedia forum Hosted on a gentoo specific forum, but has a lot of generic linux multimedia information (and relatively very active)
  • MultimediaWiki All about Multimedia

Does anyone know of any other good multi-media forums for linux?

Getting help

Software is often complex and has a steep learning curve. For ways of getting help online, take a look at the online resources page for links to forums and tutorials online. Also take a look at the training category index for more info on training.


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