Open-source is more than just free software. It is an entire new universe created and constantly fed by thousands of people around the world: developers and end users. Amazing and powerful tools designed to solve all kinds of problems. Today we will show you some useful open-source applications for video design and animation that will make your day.
Let's start by talking about GIMP, a very complete raster graphics and photo editing application that allows you to manipulate your images professionally and prepare them for your VJ footage. Through a wide range of plugins and scripts you can correct color, apply filters, create animations, extract frames from video, save different codecs, save for web and much more. Is it intuitive? Yes. Is it all-in-one? No, it is not, so you will need to search and install some plugins in order to do things like exporting .exr files or opening video files; nevertheless there is clear and good documentation available. It runs on GNU/Linux, OS X and Microsoft Windows. Last but not least, there is an extension in Blender that allows interoperability with GIMP .xcf or .xjt files.
How can you handle vector graphics instead of raster graphics? Inkscape is the answer. If you have ever used Illustrator, tools and interface will be very familiar to you. It includes precision, path and text tools, 3D extensions, filters, great pattern generators and more. Save as .svg or .eps and get ready to use your DJ logo vector path in any 3D or motion graphics software. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X (requires XQuartz). Either you just want to manipulate paths or create something more complex, Inkscape is a robust and professional software option at no cost.
Do you really need to buy that expensive 3D application? Blender includes potent 3D modelling and texturing tools, an efficient photorealistic render engine, a node-based editor for materials, dynamics, awesome animation workflows to create your VJ loops, a compositor and a video editor. It is not totally intuitive like other popular software, but it is worth learning and there is a lot of documentation out there. If you do not find the way to do something in Blender, do not worry, somewhere in the world one skillful developer has created a plugin and it is available for everyone.
Now that you have your image sequences, you need to put all together and add some effects. If you do not have After Effects, there is an open-source compositing software called Natron. It is a cross-platform node-based tool, the UI is very similar to Nuke and you have access to a variety of effects, including motion blur and color correction effects. There are still things to improve on, but it is worth a try.
Ok, but you are a VJ, so you are going to need a video mixing tool. There are several open-source options out there, but to get started you can try GLMixer. This VJing application allows you to import and mix VJ footage such as videos, image files, vector graphics, basic computer generated graphics and use GPU plugins from FreeFrame. It includes an interesting circle UI for handling different files at the same time in a practical way. It works on Linux, OSX and Windows. FreeJ is another free video mixer option, however it is not available for Windows.
Finally, there is ShareX, an incredible and complete screencast software. This kind of tool is essential for any productive workflow, either you want to share screenshots or record VJing tutorials. At no cost you can capture specific regions, create GIFs or HD videos, benefit from constant updates and much more. It is only available for Microsoft Windows; you could consider using Dahu for Linux and Mac.