"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Natron: Open source video compositing


I often use my desktop computer to edit family videos. I'm far from being en expert or even en advanced amateur, my needs usually are limited to cutting out bed scenes, stitching the good ones with some effect and, sometimes, add head titles and a little of music. I usually use OpenShot for video editing and AviDemux in case my source video needed some simple processing before editing. These tools are more than enough for my limited needs but, while browsing around into the Internet, I read about a tool that appeared very promising to me: Natron, I so decided to install it and give it a try.

What Natron is

Natron is a compositing software. Its main function is mixing together different sources: video, pictures and text with addition of various filters and effects. Let's also point out what Natron is not: Natron isn't an editing software. Natron is not suited in cutting and stitching videos together even though, reading community forums, I understand it isn't impossible using it that way.

Natron user interface

Natron is a “node basedcompositing software, the process applied to source video is graphically described by a graph where every node represent an elaboration step like, for example, an effect or a filter. May be it’s because I’m very “graph-minded” because of my work, but I felt at home with Natron suer interface from the very beginning. I started by trying to correct a very dark and noisy night scene:
then I tried adding some dummy titles

Moving parts”, like titles, are controlled by a key-frame system. Key frames are set by right-clicking on the desired property, not all properties can be key-framed in this case , of course, no key-frame menu appears on right-click. Motion parameters can then be adjusted in the “curve editor” tab:

The curve editor uses splines so it should be easy setting up accelerating and breaking motion paths.
Natron user interface is natural and responsive, of course programs like Natron are quite memory-hungry and my Veriton desktop computer actually has 7GB of RAM installed a bi less of the 8GB suggested.