Kdenlive Timeline Illustrated, Part 3

Kdenlive timeline illustrated...
In my third blog post about Kdenlive's timeline I will finally show you several real-world examples from my own projects of compositing clips. If you just came in fresh, please head over to part 1 and part 2 first in order to get the necessary basics before reading on here.


Kdenlive Timeline Illustrated, Part 2

In my second blog post about Kdenlive's timeline we now learn how to find the topmost track that gets rendered as well as where the «rendering pipeline» of tracks chained by transition actually ends. In case your haven't yet read my first blog post of this mini series, Kdenlive Timeline Illustrated, Part 1, then please read it first as it sets the context to understand this second post.


Kdenlive Timeline Illustrated, Part 1

A lot of people starting to learn Kdenlive quickly get frustrated by the seemingly unintuitive and unexpected behavior of the timeline. Me too.

Probably much confusion simply arises because people expect the video tracks in Kdenlive's timeline to act like image layers – the image layers that can be found in so many graphics programs. Unfortunately, Kdenlive's tracks work quite different, but this isn't immediately obvious.

So for better insight into Kdenlive's timeline please follow me on a little journey...


Previewing Protune Footage in the Field

For years I don't take any notebook or netbook with me when travelling. Instead, my Android tablet needs to be sufficient. Especially, as it has a much better display (2560×1440) and much more processing power than my netbook. However, there's one piece missing in order to check my raw footage from the Canon HF G30 and GoPro HD Hero 3 while in the field: a suitable video player...


Big Frame Hunting, Or: Dive Vader's Shootout

Dive Vader's Shootout? Well, sort of. Christian, a dive instructor and (despite this) friend of mine finally unearthed some underwater video shootout footage taken in 2013 and which we thought to be lost. Usually, I'm the one behind the camcorder eyes and shooting video. So this surely is a rare incident where I was shot myself.

As I still had my own footage with the same shootout scene from my perspective as well as some more funny footage about a hungry perch that wants to get a fair share of crab but simply can't.
So I made this small video about Big Frame Hunting in the Austrian lake Plansee. Enjoy!

Big Frame Hunting / Dive Vader's (Video) Shootout (view on YouTube)


Green Lake

The Green Lake in Styria, Austria, is a mountain lake renown for its crystal-clear waters. Of course, under water sight thus is great. And when you get a samlet succession in front of your camera, it's such a beautiful sight and you've got a great dive.

The samlet succession (view on YouTube)

This film marks the point of me turning away from the unreliable GoPro cameras. After I lost video footage completely on several occasions the new camera is a Canon HF G30. The Canon works reliably and produces great footage, as you can see here for yourself. Thanks to the fine optics of the HF G30 I could shot from distance, not disturbing the samlets. Additionally, the Canon doesn't have any issues with reliably writing video streams to memory cards, as the GoPro cameras do. This is the way cameras need to be. GonePro.


GonePro Part 2: Krazy Kraken Cannon

In the meantime I could gain some first experience using the Canon VIXIA/LEGRIA HF G30 in open water under real life conditions. So, in this second and follow-up post I'm going to analyze the footage taken with both the HF G30 and GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition. This post follows in the steps of GonePro Part 1: Krazy Kraken Cannon.


GonePro Part 1: Krazy Kraken Cannon

G30 cannon and krazy kraken
In the meantime I've got the Ikelite dive housing delivered fro my video cannon, erm, Canon VIXIA/LEGRIA HF G30. The cannon finally got a krazy kraken as its sidekick.

But how does this new krazy kompany of a cannon and a kraken perform under water in practice? So it's time for some first reports, fresh from a flooded gravel pit...


100 Safe and Comfortable Full Face Mask Dives

What else can be more fun than celebrating my full face mask dive #100 in an exceptional beautiful diving spot, such as the Green Lake in Styria, Austria?

100 safe and comfortable dives with the Dräger PND full face mask.

The Green Lake is a clear, cold mountain lake with mindblowing sight. The water temperature was 6°C, so diving with the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive full face mask was a real pleasure. Over the past two years, the Dräger has proven to be a rock-solid and highest quality full face mask. In combination with the Apeks regs you get a dream team. This ain't a once-in-a-while full face mask. You either dive the Dräger as often as possible, or you don't dive full face masks at all.

I won't like to miss the unique features of the Dräger, such as the damn easy to operate nose clips for pressure equalization, the quick release handles, the easily switchable regs, and its good visual field. This quality comes at its price, but I find this mask to be worth every nickel. The Dräger Panorama Nova Dive makes diving with a full face mask such a great and relaxing experience. No stupid marketing gimmicks and cheap compromises, but instead a safety-first design. The Dräger mask pays back its price in its superior handling and good field of vision without annoying distortions and reflections. That is, units of safety that really count. And which cheap full face masks miss by a wide margin.

On a final note ... as usual, I'm diving here with my double reg set with full double reg redundancy. Ah, there's that «lifestyle» full face mask that yet needs to integrate this level of intrinsic safety, me thinks...

PS: this awesome photo was shot by my buddy Axel Eisele.

Finger Food Specialist

Fresh from the freezers of mountain lake Grüblsees we've got this new specialty. At least we now understand what this «finger food» is really about...
Finger Food Specialist

PS: Many thanks go to Jochen Grau for pressing the shutter, Michael Heimbach for playing the model, and Axel Eisele for the camera equipment. A dream team...


Protune Under Water: Contrast Crunch

Some time ago, I published an introductory blog post about Protune. In it, I explained that GoPro uses an S-shaped tonal curve for encoding the image the camera sensor sees into the three primary color channels RGB. The idea here is to extend the range at the far ends at the expense of the intermediate tonal range, in a way that Protune stays within the allowed tonal value range of 8 bits per channel H.264 video data. A good idea, it seems ... but unfortunately not always under water...


Impressions: Cam Eyes

Resurrected from a NSA backup file thought to be lost: a camera high noon shooting in Lake Plansee in Tyrol, Austria.

Impressions: Buoyancy Perversion

(In Lake Blindsee, TI/A)

Okay, this a posed shot ... the idea was in my head for quite some time already while I worked on the various certifake parodies. Lake Blindsee then turned out to be a really good spot for realizing my idea. And Axel Eisel knew immediately what to do when I carefully glided on the trunk. Just this moment a group of beginners came by. Luckily, or in a twisted turn of irony, the beginners were so distracted by their own buoyancy attempts that they did not notice me ... except the instructor.

Impressions: The Catalog Picture

(In Lake Murner See, BY/D)

A snapshot taken by Jörg Lucinski ... which could be straight out of a Dräger catalog for full face masks. This is one of those shots that you cannot pose. At least not with me.

Impressions: Full Face Mask Nirvana

(In Nirvana, that is, in BY/D)

Seeing this Jörg Lucinsky simply had to shoot. I'm not going to say anything more about this picture.

Impressions: Dive Vader

In Lake Steinberger See, BY/D)

Peter von der Sitt appearently had to document my first visit with the Schwandorfer Sporttaucher for the club chronicles. So I stopped and posed when stepping into the filthy floods of Steinberger See to allow the chronicler to document this moment. At this time I just had started diving with a full face mask. Thus, there's the special backup reg for the Dräger PND missing. And my half mask was still clipped to the BCD (...one never knows for sure).


Easy Canon Cam (Re) Configuration

Canon configuration made easy
In the meantime I could gain some first practise in using my new Canon VIXIA HF G30 video camera, both above and below the water line. In particular, I've now recognized that I need to configure the G30 considerably different for underwater shooting, compared to normal shooting on safe ground. For instance, the variable speed zoom is very useful, but not under water. It's easy to overshot when zooming under water, as control is difficult using the dive housing's controls.

Unfortunately, the G30 features exactly a single set of configuration settings. Configuring all the many differing settings manually one after another when preparing the cam for shooting just isn't feasible.

Fortunately, there's a solution for this, albeit it looks slightly odd. In the end, history is calling...


Mobile Video Backup, Episode II

Working mobile backup using the
Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2
Slightly more than one year ago I purchased a mobile Wi-Fi hard disk drive in order to backup my raw video footage while on a journey. With respect to the GoPro HD Heros bricking file systems on several occasions this was truly visionary.

Unfortunately, the weak spot of all current wireless hard disk drives is their abysmal low wireless performance. They barely can send or receive a hand full of megabytes per second. While this performance is just enough for some simple low bitrate video, it is far from the throughput that any hald-decent footage demands. In the end, today's typical mass-market Wi-Fi mobile hard disk solutions heavily suck.

So I started researching again and finally found and then ordered a specialized device for backing up my video SD memory cards while on a journey. And without the need to carry around a notebook, yet with satisfying backup performance...


Cannoning a Hero Fly on the Wheel

Cannoning the Hero Fly on the Wheel.
After having lost video footage three times on different occasions, in each one of my three GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition cams, and each time on a different memory card, I finally contacted what, erm, GoPro boasts as its, cough, «customer service». This «service» is absolutely sure that either (1) I am at fault or (2) my memory cards. With clear signs of having lost any sense of reason at GoPro I took finally their trademark advice seriously and have «go(ne) pro». So I got myself a shiny new FullHD video cannon, so to speak...


Contour ShuttlePRO Linux Woes

Contour's ShuttlePRO v2 multimedia controller surely is a fine piece of hardware which I like very much. However, the device developers at Contour messed up with the USB HID profile for sure. Unfortunately, in Linux this causes shuttle and jog events to get lost from time to time ... so I started to investigate...


Fallen Heroes: SD Card Err

When you are seeing this with
a memory card inserted...
Unfortunately, and based on my own in-field experience, I'm slowly coming to conclusions that GoPro's firmware in the HD Hero 3 is clearly unreliable. And this even as I carefully handle the cam, never running the battery flat, shutting down the cam correctly before swapping memory cards, and so on. In return, GoPro's famous firmware just has bricked the file system on a memory card for the third time. Unfortunately, you can't repair such a disk in cam or with the basic tools that come with all the operating systems – but fortunately, I found a way to salvage my video footage despite this mayhem, so please read on...


Backscatter 3.1: Big Pink Hero Eyes

As a self-confessed herograph («aberrations? This is art!») I nevertheless would like to try something new, not just plain fish eye shots. I would like to get closer to some of my photo motives, but the built-in fish eye limits the minimum distance. In several situations I could get closer, yet the GoPro HD Hero 3 lense was the limitating factor. Thus, I would like to experiment with a macro lens. In addition, I want to test green filters: do they give any benefits in the freshwater lakes I'm often diving in?

Three Heroes ... and mad as a Hatter

I've just returned from a weekend of ice diving ... well, it actually was more the next-to-the-ice diving, to be precise. I had the chance to test my new Backscatter Flip 3.1 equipment consisting of a +10 macro lens and a green water filter. The winterly Lake Plansee was an unforgiving test environment: really green waters and not much light...


GoPro's Protune Hero 3+ Down-Grade: C+ at Best

Apparently, GoPro changed the Protune tonal curves the HD Hero 3+ uses when white balance is switched off from what they previously used for the HD Hero 3. It seems as if they now use separate tonal curves for the red, green, and blue channel, while for the HD Hero 3 the channels all used the same tonal curve. The unpleasant outcome of this is that raw HD Hero 3+ footage gets a massive tint. To this time, no satisfying set of effects and their parameters is know to deal with such footage in Kdenlive or other open video editing and grading tools. All experiments so far were unsatisfactory.

Albeit this tint problem is only seen when white balance is switched off, this is exactly the mode you want to shot in your underwater footage. Thus, GoPro without any real need mucked around with Protune, making it useless. GoPro's Studio software is nothing more than a bad joke: since when is grading done on raw footage before the footage has been cut and arranged? Whatever GoPro is, it needs to go pro as soon as possible, as breaking Protune is ridiculous.

Over here were I live, we have grades that go from «1» (best, «A» in some other countries) down to «6» (worst, «F» grade). It may be a sign that the HD Hero 3+ thus translates to a C+ grade. At best.

Unfortunately, GoPro still don't gives any useful information about how to deal with Protune. They simply point you to their pointless Windows and OS-X software. Seeing this openly customer-hostile I'm not the only one getting HD Hero 3 Black Edition cams while their prices dives, as the 3+ seems to rot in shop shelves.

Kdenlive, Kubuntu, and the Contour ShuttlePRO v2 Jog Dial

Cuts the video, as well as the mustard:
ShuttlePRO v2 by Contour Inc.
While today computer mice are almost ubiquitous input devices at least for the larger personal computers, it is sometimes much better to (additionally) go for a special-purpose input device. Such specialized devices are much more convenient when working, for instance, with video and audio. (Re)Winding forth and back through the footage is easy, while mice are not exactly the best tool, erm, at hand.


Dry Heroes

Proven in practice at 4°C water temperature.
In the past months, for me GoPro's anti fogging strips performed totally miserable. Today, I could put my new method for defogging to a real-world test under water...


Hero Power Bar

Not exactly on everyone's agenda, yet hero power users may probably face the same problem: how do I power all this video equipment for recharging? While on a tour, wall power outlets are typically a rare sight. And then you can spot only loners. Of course, one can buy power strips almost everywhere, so where's the problem?


Mass Heroes Charger

When travelling with a bunch of GoPro HD Hero cameras, then getting all the batteries charged for the next day of happy shooting becomes of concern. Of course, charing one battery per HD Hero camera is easy ... but throughout the day these little suckers basically eat batteries.

While I'm on site, recharging batteries is often not possible. So evenings get packed with constantly petting the charging station; something I don't like. Luckily, GoPro finally managed to deliver its (long promised) new and smart add-on...


Heroes of Thin Air: Castle Wolfstein 3D

I have to confess: I could not resist when titling this new blog post. Anyhow, this is about a real Castle Wolfstein, a ruined one, to be precise. Because I shot this landmark portrait from my Phantom quadcopter, I'm ... well ... entitled to also tackle on a shiny «3D»!

Castle Wolfstein, Upper Palatinate (view on YouTube)

My first attempt to film on site wasn't exactly any success. Light was bad, the sky was overcast when I returned on site. Colors were simply dull, contrast was awful. So I deleted all footage and I never did since regret. But then there simply was this afternoon, with its beautiful autumn Sun light ... so I grabbed my equipment and off I went to Castle Wolfstein. This time, everything was (nearly) perfect. Beautiful light, only few clouds on a bright sky, almost no wind at least in the heights I wanted to fly. And then these fantastic colors of Nature: red, yellow, and green ... like a lovely poem.

Fine conditions for flying and shooting. And on top I had this incredibly unlikely fortune to get a motor paraglider on, erm, tape. So enjoy watching my newest video!


Full Face Snorkling Mask...?

We were afraid it might happen one day: here we have it ... a full face mask for snorkling, named «EASYBREATH». Believe it or not. The mask has been announced by Tribord, which is a brand of the well-known French company DECATHLON SA which produces and sells sports goods.

Tribord claims, this full face snorkling mask is for those people who don't like to breathe through the mouth and dislike the usual and well-proven biting mouthpieces as being unhygienic.

Well, I can perfectly understand that people don't like biting mouthpieces. However, why do such people really want to even swim in a sea, full of piss and oil, to start with? And breathing unfiltered surface air, full of dirt and fine dust?

Let's hope that Decathlon packs a full-body condom into the box.

What really irritates me: how do such people react when they get a good  charge of sea water into their full face mask, so they need to purge it? I yet want to see a snorkel with a working automatic plug. Not without reason, SCUBA divers don't use such «snorkels». Yet, Decathlon uses such a design? Seems as if attorneys will surely have their field day soon after this mask goes to sale.

Food for Heroes: SanDisk Extreme Plus 32GB in the Red

First Ultra, then Extreme ...
and now for the, well,
ultimate climax:
The Extreme Plus. Woo-hoo!
It caught us in total surprise. Yet another product name rehashing the «plus» meme in its name. This time, SanDisk marketing had this great idea in order to create another microSD card wonder.

So, SanDisk's product management managed to pimp up its product names from Ultra to Extreme, and now even to Extreme Plus. How im-press-ive. It seems that the Extreme Plus series is going to replace the previoius Extreme series of microSD memory carads. However, I don't really see any real differences, at least not in terms of packaging and the labelling on the microSD card itself...


Fogging-Free Heroes

«Dry Suit» for my HD Heroes.
Lately, my GoPro HD Heroes have been massively plagued by fogging when filming under water. And this after years of fog-free operation – despite (or because) of the anti-fogging strips that GoPro sells.

While I could salvage most of my footage by declaring it to be a work of true art, I yet had to find a working solution. It seems that I was successful in keeping my Heros free of fogging...


IBAN Specialist

For quite some time I asked myself: what really differentiates the Ten-Star-Instructor from the diving plebs and instructor subworkers?

The IBAN expert: gets you high ranks.

Since a few days ago I now understand, thanks to a friend: it is the knowledge. Knowledge about numbers. But not arbitrary numbers, but only these numbers that matter: the IBANs of dive tricking organizations (for those in the U.S.: IBANs are an internationally agreed means of identifying bank accounts across national borders). So it is exactly this card that makes the difference. Only with it, you are a real master.

Oh, sweet irony: the idea for this particular specialty card was born of all places in Schwabach, a German town near Nuremberg, which is especially famous for its gold foils. Go figure...


Impressions: Happurger Baggersee 2014

The first dive for this new year 2014 was in a small quarry pond, Happurger Baggersee. And we could finally find and photograph one of the crabs rumor had for a long time already. Another pleasant experience was to dive into a swarm of small fish and enjoy all the glittering and sparkling of my dive lights getting reflected on the small bodies.

Out dive took 70 minutes, water temperature was 4°C: the perfect environmental conditions for wearing my trusty Dräger full face mask. By the way, it was my 85th dive with this fine mask. Fog-free view, comfortable breathing without biting into a mouth piece, warm head ... what else do you want?

Happurger Baggersee (BY/D), 70 mins at 4°C.

PS: Many thanks to Jörg Lucinski for the photos.


New Year's Eve Pikes 2013

The last beautiful and calm dive in 2013: the New Year's Eve pikes in Lake Murner See. Enjoy the nice impressions from the final dive (61 mins, 6°C)  of the year just bygone.

Murner New Year's Eve Pikes (view on YouTube)

This video shows that next to suitable and willing actors you cannot get away with the following two important indegrients for getting good shots: light and sight.

So when it comes to light: the money I spent on my two video lights Sola 2000F from Light & Motion was spent very well. Appearently these lights are quite an improvement for scene lighting. Even with the overcast sky the pike in their environment show fine colors. You know what? I rarely had so far so much fun grading the underwater raw footage ... because I mainly just had to adjust the contrast, while colors were already almost fine, apart from really small adjustments.