Novacut, via a Kickstarter campaign gone viral, promises real-time collaborative video editing from an open source tool. Open source video editing itself has been a long-unfulfilled dream; software from Blender to kdenlive can do editing in theory, but it’s hardly a seamless experience for an editor experienced in the proprietary competition. At the same time, it’s not as though editors are entirely satisfied with the closed options, either – least of all as Final Cut Pro X opens a gap between at least some of its users’ desire and what the tool delivers.

Novacut boldly suggests it can fix that – down to a jab at Apple with the mention that they’re all about multicam editing. And rather than just be a free tool that does what the big boys do, Novacut suggests it’ll be different. It’ll support ARM processors alongside 64-bit and 32-bit-native processing. It’ll be designed for easy integration with HDSLRs. It’ll revisit UX for video editors – long entrenched in conventional timelines — while embracing new ideas like working collaboratively and live.

That’s an insanely tall order, even if the Kickstarter pitch is slick. So I asked Novacut’s Jason Gerard DeRose to tell us a little more about who the heck these folks are and what we might expect of the results. I’ve got a few interesting answers. Consider it the beginning of the conversation, as I’m sure quite a lot of us would like to see this succeed. Video editing could be better for it.

Can you tell us at all about who’s on the team? What’s their background; what kinds of software have they developed before?

So, 3 co-founders:

Jason DeRose – lead developer, UX designer, worked at Red Hat last
Tara Oldfield – artist outreach, resident artists, pro photo and video gal
Jeffrey Ballagh – business lead, developer, economist

Key community people:

James Raymond – graphic designer and HTML5 guru
David Jordan – developer, filmmaker
Akshat Jain – developer outreach, PR busybody
Ian Cylkowski – designed Novacut brand identity

The theoretical description on Kickstarter sounds delightful, of course – but can you give us any hint as to what the application will actually look like in practice?

There is this demo of our file import workflow:

Ed.: See also the links they add to that video for lots more resources in the open video and software library domains.

There’s not much else yet, but there will be in the next few weeks. I attached a screenshot of something our designer was working on today.

Click for full-sized version.

We very deliberately avoided touching the UI till we had done extensive UX research:

Because we’re using flexible web technologies like WebKit and CouchDB, we can do UI prototyping and implementation very quickly.

In fact, as a PR stunt during Kickstarter we’re going to show off just how quickly we can prototype and implement UI… so that should be fun.

We’ll be watching. In the meantime…

  • Juno

    "Novacut is not just a video editor, it's a revolution. An open source, collaborative, cloud-enabled platform that is created by artists for artists."

    I'm obviously a throw back of some sort, but I don't get the worth in announcing a revolution that exists as a bunch of sales videos. Jesus is come, he's just in prototype. Hallelujah!

    Please, we already have a cycle of dumping stuff for new shiny every six months, every three months, every damn second … now it's gone into reverse time and there's articles being written about things that just should work first, before telling us that the world is changed.

    Or is PR really the media revolution we hoped for?

  • Juno, PR is how kickstarter works. They want you to make a good presentation and offers in return for the donation (ie, what is delivered) before the project is even considered. So the stronger the PR, the stronger your case…and the more likely that you'll get the community investment needed to make the kickstarter project complete.

    In any case I'd have liked to see what specific DSLR codec support there is (native canon mov/avchd editing maybe? gpu support?) and how that workflow looks. While FCX may be getting the ire of established pros, the new users in the market are going to have to be hard sold on why they should choose anything but FCX or Premire 5.5 right now imo.

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