Friday, August 6, 2010

Opening the language of video

I've come to really respect DoctorMo after following him on Planet Ubuntu for a while.  Today he has a post about screening "Sita Sings the Blues" at DebConf.  He raises the important point that the "source-code" for a CC-licensed work is far less useful if it can only be manipulated with a single, proprietary application.

This is a primary reason why we're developing a video editor.  Access to the source-code is a big part of what has allowed free-software to accomplish the unthinkable - software that is written more quickly, for less money, that at the same time is higher-quality than its proprietary counterparts.  On the surface, it seems the math is wrong somewhere there.  But it's not, this weird math is working everyday in the free-software industry.

There are two big reasons why this works.

First, it's an education thing.  If you want to learn how complex, industry-leading free-software is written, you can look at its source-code and see exactly how it's designed.  No secrets.  Importantly, you can also follow the exact process through which the software evolves and improves day-to-day.  The free-software community has such a high concentration of great developers because it's the easiest place to learn to be a great developer.

Second, it's all about brutal peer-review.  If you talk to free software developers, they'll all say that knowing the world will see their source-code keeps them on their toes, makes them write better software.  No one wears their professional hearts on their sleeves the way free-software developers do.  But this unforgiving peer-review has raised the bar very high, and has fueled a staggering rate of innovation.

The Novacut team wants to make sure the "source-code" for professional video production is as useful as it is for free-software.  And the cool thing about video source-code is that not only will it allow you to learn about and further the state-of-the-art in video editing, it will provide a window into the entire video production process.  For example, when looking at finished HDSLR videos, I'm always curious what the virgin clips coming from the camera look like before color-grading.  After all, it's hard to learn how to get the right video from your camera if you can't compare apples-to-apples.  But with the source-code for a video, our editor will show you all the details for making sense of the process - how the raw clips look, the exact color adjustment values used, and how the clips look with these adjustments applied.  The Novacut video editor will help directors-of-photography up-their-game even if they never do a lick of editing themselves!

P.S.: It's freakin' awesome that Nina Pasley is screening "Sita Sings the Blues" in person at DebConf!  Rock on, Nina.

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