PiTiVi Video Editor: At the Start of Its Journey, Showing Lots of Potential

by Ostatic Staff - May. 28, 2009

Video editing software for Linux is, to put it nicely, quirky. Some editors only work with specific file formats, some work nicely for basic video editing but can be wildly temperamental on seemingly identical machines, and some are powerful to the point of overkill for the average user.

PiTiVi is a non-linear video editor based on the GStreamer multimedia framework. After hearing some positive comments, and seeing development efforts really picking up on the project, I decided to take it for a spin. It is very much in development, but not in the traditional sense. It feels very stable, and the interface isn't confusing or a hindrance. It is, at the moment, very basic when it comes to functionality. There are not plugins or extensions currently available (though feature requests are welcome). However, the project has taken the time to plan its path forward -- and with the basics down, I can't see why real headway won't come quickly.

I'd feel as if I were being unfair to readers (or the PiTiVi team) if I called this a review. It isn't, because it really can't be. It would be a lot like reviewing an underlying library that powers a far more complex application. PiTiVi is still very much a skeleton waiting to be fleshed out -- but it's a good, strong skeleton to build on.

My PiTiVi installation is running on my Ubuntu 9.04 laptop, with the packages from the PiTiVi PPA repository (of course, source tarballs and packages for other distributions are available). It seems one the most critical factors for success, stability, and an all around good experience with PiTiVi is a complete, updated set of the GStreamer libraries and plugins.

All of the blood-and-guts functions are there -- grouping and ungrouping clips, cutting, linking, deleting, and importing and exporting in every format combination known to humankind, depending on your installed GStreamer libraries.

The interface is clean, easy, and very much drag and drop. I could haul video off of my Flip camera and plunk it into PiTiVi without fuss or fanfare. The video I fiddled with was about six minutes long, and the import was fast (really fast) and zooming in and out of the timeline and skipping around frames was responsive and stable.

Right now, PiTiVi will appeal to casual users needing a very basic video editor. I hope it will appeal to developers even more -- this project has a lot to work on, as well as a lot to work with. PiTiVi might not be your video editor now, but it's a project worth keeping an eye on.