Kdenlive 19.08 review - Film Noir Redux

Updated: September 2, 2019

About a year ago, I reviewed the beta version of Kdenlive 18.08. It proved to be an okay program, an incremental improvement, even though there were some issues that you'd expect to find in beta-quality software. Overall, there weren't any big surprises, but I was hoping for a more streamlined workflow and improved consistency.

Twelve months later, Kdenlive 19.08 has been released, and it's time for another review. After all, this is my favorite video editor, and I've used it to create all of my funny and unfunny Youtube videos, so I'm always very keen on what new things and improvements we can have here. Let us commence then, ever so gingerly.

First steps ... not promising

Once I had the program set up, I launched it. As expected, you're greeted with a dark theme, but this can be remedied relatively quickly. All right. Kdenlive 19.08 did not start the session with a wizard, probably because I've used other versions before, and there was a configuration file somewhere.

Main interface

Theme change

Kdenlive, Breeze theme

Now, the most important part - actually working with multimedia project. Well, just as I did last year, I decided to import a handful of my videos, including .kdenlive project files plus dozens of clips and images that normally constitute a complete media package. I tried to load one of them - the Casey Ryback tribute - and Kdenlive simply closed. I presume crashed. I re-launched the program, and the icons were gone from the interface - fixed by changing back to the Dark theme (or any than the selected one) and then back to it.

Icons gone

To see what was happening behind the scenes, I ran the program from the command line. And I discovered a whole bunch of warnings and errors. No idea why they show up or what they mean, but it doesn't look promising.

./kdenlive-19.08.0a-x86_64.appimage

WARNING : Fails to parse  "avcolour_space"
WARNING : Fails to parse  "avcolor_space"
WARNING : Fails to parse  "avdeinterlace"
WARNING : Fails to parse  "swscale"
"avfilter.abench" is blacklisted
"avfilter.acompressor" is blacklisted
"avfilter.adelay" is blacklisted
...
WARNING : Fails to parse  "deinterlace"
++++++ Unknown asset :  "avfilter.acompressor"
++++++ Unknown asset :  "avfilter.aecho"
++++++ Unknown asset :  "avfilter.agate"
Warning: duplicate custom definition of effect "frei0r.alpha0ps" found. Only last one will be considered. Duplicate found in "/tmp/.mount_kdenlivW6BXX/usr/share/kdenlive/effects/frei0r_alpha0ps.xml"
...
"frei0r.xfade0r" is blacklisted
Loading bin playlist...
//////////////////////
Trying to construct 5 tracks.
////////////////////////////////
SUSPICIOUS: we weren't expecting a producer when parsing the timeline
i18n() needs at least one parameter

And then, when I tried to open a project file:

Case insensitive sorting unsupported in the posix collation implementation
Numeric mode unsupported in the posix collation implementation
qt.qpa.xcb: QXcbConnection: XCB error: 3 (BadWindow), sequence: 1684, resource id: 37765112, major code: 40 (TranslateCoords), minor code: 0
Calling appendChild() on a null node does nothing.
/tmp/.mount_kdenlivW6BXX/AppRun: line 26:  4315 Segmentation fault      (core dumped) kdenlive --config kdenlive-appimagerc $@

The plot thickens

I was able to make partial progress by moving the project files and the associated assets into the Videos sub-folder in my home directory manually, trying to recreate the structure that was as close to the original setup in which the .kdenlive files were created and saved. But it's also super-troubling that Kdenlive is so sensitive to something like, and does not have a graceful way of handling paths.

With project files in a new location, I now had a new prompt - Kdenlive couldn't load files because they were created in a different locale. What. Why? And who cares. The solution is to either install a new locale, which you can do, or edit the project file (it's just XML), and change the relevant field.

Locale warning

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?>
<mlt title="Anonymous Submission" version="0.9.0" root="/home/roger" LC_NUMERIC="ar_SD.UTF-8">
 <profile width="1920" display_aspect_den="9" colorspace="709" frame_rate_den="1" description="HD 1080p 24 fps" height="1080" display_aspect_num="16" frame_rate_num="24" progressive="1" sample_aspect_num="1" sample_aspect_den="1"/>

And despite this, Kdenlive 19.08 crashed ... again.

I tried with other project files - like my Risitas & Firefox one, to no avail. Then, I decided to actually create a brand new project, import clips, and then drag & drop them onto the relevant audio or video track in the main interface. But this didn't really work either! I wasn't able to drag & drop files at all.

New project

This is as far as I got - nothing to do with old projects, the bugs are essentially 19.08.

Back to an old version

To see whether my project files were truly that horrible, or there was something wrong with Kdenlive, I also installed the repository version, which in Kubuntu 18.04 stands at 17.12.3. Then I started the program and tried the first project. Lo and behold, Kdenlive notified me that there were some files missing, and whether I'd like to search for them. Then, the project loaded just fine - and was converted to the new format.

I had placeholders for missing clips, which is understandable, but everything worked correctly. Then I loaded another project - same prompt, a successful recursive search that found all the assets, the project was converted to the new format (plus backup), and done. No issues. Which meant there was little else for me to do with the latest version except to conclude this review not-review. As if I needed more bad stuff to cheer me up in an otherwise overwhelmingly vibrant and productive modern Linux reality. Not.

Old version, clip search

Old version 1

Old version 2

Conclusion

Apparently, the issues I've first observed a year ago weren't strictly beta. The latest version is also affected, and while the other one actually did run for me, I am unable to do even basic stuff with 19.08. In a manner that is eerily similar to Linux distributions, we have a loss of momentum, reduced quality, and the slow slide toward irrelevance.

I wish I had better news, lovely screenshots, awesome project work. But I didn't get that far, and I dread to think what will happen with the next major version, because I do rely on Kdenlive, and I need it to make my video clips. Alas, Kdenlive 19.08 is too buggy to use, and I'm quite leery of the yesteryear trend. While I had no cardinal reasons not to like the 2018 release, now I have no reasons to like this one. Me sad. And cut.

Cheers.

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