The Blender Sequence Editor

About Blender

Blender is the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback. Available for all major operating systems under the GNU Public License.

You can download Blender free of charge on www.blender.org. On the Blender site you will also find a gallery with cool Blender art.

Introduction

An often underestimated function of Blender is the Sequence Editor. It is a complete video editing system that allows you to combine multiple video channels and add effects to them. Even though it has a limited number of operations, you can use these to create powerful video edits (especially when you combine it with the animation power of Blender!) And, furthermore, it is extensible via a Plugin system quite alike the Texture plugins.

About this tutorial

This is a tutorial that I wrote for the Blender 2.0 Guide while I was working for Not a Number. It has now been made available under the Open Content License as part of the Blender Manual. Still, I’m proud of it :-)

Learning the Sequence Editor

This section shows you a practical video editing example exhibiting most of the Sequence Editor built in features. We will put together several Blender made animations to obtain some stunning effects. One frame of the resulting edited animation is shown below:

First Animation: two cubes

Let’s start with something simple and see where it leads. Start a clean Blender and remove the default plane. Split the 3D window and switch one of the views to the camera view with NUM0. In the top-view, add a cube and move it just outside of the dotted square that indicates the camera view:

We want to create a simple animation of the cube moving into view, rotating once, and then disappearing. Set the animation end to 61 (set the End: value in the Anim Panel of the Scene Context, Render Buttons F10) and insert a LocRot KeyFrame on frame 1 with IKEY and selecting LocRot from the menu which appears. This will store both the location and the rotation of the cube on this frame.

Go to frame 21 (press UPARROW twice) and move the cube closer to the camera. Insert another KeyFrame. On Frame 41, keep the cube on the same location but rotate it 180 degrees and insert another KeyFrame.

Finally on frame 61 move the cube out of view, to the right and insert the last KeyFrame.

We will need two versions of the animation: one with a solid material and one with a WireFrame. For the material, we can use a plain white lit by two bright lamps – a white one and a blue one with an energy value of two:

For the WireFrame cube, set the material type to ‘Wire’ and change the color to green:

Enter an appropriate filename (for example ‘cube_solid.avi’) in the Pics field (first text button on top) of the Scene Context Render sub-context Output Panel (F10):

Render the animation with the white solid cube. This will save it to your disk. Save it as an AVI file. Use AVI Raw if possible, because it yields an higher quality – compression should be the last thing in the editing process – otherwise, if short of disk space use AVI Jpeg or AVI Codec, the first being less compressed and hence often of higher quality.

Now change the material to the green wire frame, render the animation again, saving the result as cube_wire.avi.

You now have a ‘cube_solid.avi’ and ‘cube_wire.avi’ on your hard disk. This is enough for our first sequence editing.

First Sequence: delayed wireframes

The first sequence will use only the wireframe animation – twice – to create an interesting effect. We will create multiple layers of video, give them a small time offset and add them together. This will simulate the ‘glowing trail’ effect that you see on radar screens.

Start a clean Blender file and change the 3D window to a Sequence Editor window by pressing SHIFT-F8 or by selecting the Sequence Editor icon: .

Add a movie to the window by pressing SHIFT-A and selecting Movie (see below) or by using the Add>>Movie Menu entry. From the File Select Window wich appears select the wireframe cube animation that you made before.

After you have selected and loaded the movie file, you will see a blue strip that represents it. After adding a strip, you are automatically in grab mode and the strip follows the mouse. The start and end frame are now displayed in the bar.

Take a closer look at the Sequence Editor screen now. Horizontally you see the time value. Vertically, you see the video ‘channels’. Each channel can contain an image, a movie or an effect. By layering different channels on top of each other and applying effects, you can mix different sources together. If you select a video strip, its type, length and filename will be printed at the bottom of the window.

Move your video strip and let it start at frame 1. Place it in channel 1, that is on the bottom row and press LMB to finalize:

Tip: Lead-in, Lead-out and stills

You can add lead-in and lead-out frames by selecting the triangles at the start and end of the strip (they will turn purple) and dragging them out. In the same way, you can define the ‘length’ in frames of a still image.

Duplicate the movie strip with SHIFT-D, place the duplicate in channel 2 and shift it one frame to the right. We now have two layers of video on top of each other, but only one will display. To mix the two layers you need to apply an effect to them.

Select both strips and press SHIFT-A. Select ADD from the menu that pops up. Otherwise use the Add>>Effect>>Add.

To see what’s happening split the sequence editor window and select the image button in the header:

This will activate the automatic preview. If you select a frame in the sequence editor window with the strips, the preview will be automatically updated (with all the effects applied!).

If you press ALT-A in the preview window, Blender will play back the animation. (Rendering of effects for the first time takes a lot of processing time, so don’t expect a real-time preview!).

Tip: Windowless preview

If you do not like the separate render window, switch to the Render Buttons (F10) and select DispView in the bottom left.

Now it’s time to add some more mayhem to this animation. Duplicate another movie layer and place it on channel 4. Add it to the existing ADD effect in video channel 3 with a new ADD effect. Repeat this once and you will have four WireFrame cubes in the preview window.

All the cubes have the same brightness now, but I would like to have a falloff in brightness. This is easily arranged: open an IPO window somewhere (F6) and select the sequence icon in its IPO Type Menu.

Select the first add strip (the one in channel 3), hold down CTRL and click LMB in the IPO window on a value of 1. This sets the brightness of this add operation to maximum. Repeat this for the other two add strips, but decrease the value a bit for each of them, say to around 0.6 and 0.3.

Depending on the ADD values that you have just set, your result should look something like this:

Now we already have 7 strips and we have only just begun with our sequencing! You can imagine that the screen can quickly become very crowded indeed. To make your project more manageable, select all strips (AKEY and BKEY work here, too!), press MKEY and press ENTER or click on the Make Meta pop up. Otherwise you can use the Strip>>Make Meta Strip Menu entry. The strips will now be combined into a meta-strip, and can be copied or moved as a whole.

With the meta strip selected, press NKEY and enter a name, for example ‘Wire/Delay’, to better remember what it is.

Continued on page 2…

  • Trouble!

    I am stuck again. Something is really unclear in your tutorial. You say, “Go to frame 21 (press UPARROW twice) and move the cube closer to the camera.” What do you mean by closer? In view? Or nearer to the camera? Also, my camera view screen has a main box and then only one dotted line box within. If I put the cube outside this dotted line, it still shows up in the render. Also, when I play the animation, I would expect on frame 21 for the cube to jump to center screen. It doesn’t. Instead, it just stays to one side. Oh, and my frames have the cube from left to right, but when I run the animation, the cube is sticking into the right side of the view and there is no movement or anything. I am so confused and discouraged! Please help like you always do!

    ~AS

  • AS (again)

    Hey, what happened to the tutorial? It’s gone!?! Now what shall I do? If only there were many other people like you who do such good tutorials.

    ~AS

  • bart

    Oops, sorry about that – I goofed something up. I’ll get back to you on your question(s) later! (Gotta catch a train to work now first ;-)

    Bart

  • bart

    Hi AS,

    just follow the screenshots and you’ll be fine; with closer I meant ‘in full view’, just like the screenshot.

    The dotted line is not the edge of the render, but what is called the ‘overscan’ region. When rendering to television, the area outside the dotted line may or may not be shown, depending on the television set. To be safe (and when working for TV ;-) always make sure the most important details are inside the dotted rectangle.

    Finally, if the cube doesn’t move then you’ve probably forgotten to insert keyframes for the right frames.

    Cheers,

    Bart

  • AS

    B@rt, it’s still not working! I added the LocRots and everything. Let me describe my EXACT problem. When I run the animation, here is what I see. First, it renders a starting frame. The mouse cursor thing indicates frame 1. In this first frame, the cube is sticking out of the RIGHT side of the image which is weird since my animation starts with it on the left. When it gets to frame 21, nothing changes. All is still the same. And then, when I try to close the render window it won’t close and I have to force quit and lose all my work. I’m not sure what’s wrong. Maybe LocRots are different in 2.4.1? Could you try this tutorial?

    ~AS

    PS: You haven’t gotten back to me on my question in the dolphin tutorial. I’m sure you’re very busy, though, and it’s great that you do so much. No rush on that.

  • bart
  • http://notyet Gary Kurtz

    Hi Bart,
    Just tried your tutorial on cube animation. I thought it was clear enough. But I do have 1 problem, nothing to do with you. A question realy.
    What kind of system do you sugest I have to be able to run these programs. I just inharited a computer from my Bro N Law. It’s a pre hyper threading 1.5 Gz. p4. Only 128 mb ram. Don’t seem enough to me, so i’m thinking about investing in another. Any sugestions.

  • bart

    1.5Ghz is fine, but you should get much more memory like 512MB or 1GB. Also, buy a good videocard. It doesn’t have to be top of the bill; a geForce 2 works fine.

    Cheers,

    Bart

  • John

    First, thank you for this tutorial and your time, thank you.
    I think this is an excellent tutorial.
    I am having trouble understanding how to animate the tunnel.
    Frame 1 I uderstand, but I don’t understand how the rest of it works.
    I don’t know what to do on frame 51 and I’m realy lost on setting the IPO.
    My loop jumps.
    I’m using Blender2.41

    Thank you for your time and help
    John

  • John

    Hello again,
    In the Blender Sequence Editor tutorial how do you make the jumping logo? How do I add vertices directly in the IPO window? I don’t understand what to do at this point.

    This looks like it should be easy to make but I can’t see it.

    Thank you for your time,

    John

  • bart

    Hi John,

    please go a bit slow on the comments here :) To add points to the IPO curve, select it, enter edit mode and CTRL Leftclick in the IPO window.

    Cheers,

    Bart

    PS: I’ve cleared some of your previous comments

  • John

    Hello Bart,
    Thank you for the IPO tip good fun.

    Again thank you for your time and sorry about all the comments.

    If you can tell me how do I make the particle bars animation using Blender 2.41? Some of the settings, like the Effects tab are hiden.

    PS: I started using Blender in January 2006 I have some good ideas i.e.: stories,characters,cartoons and the like. I was looking to use Macromedia Flash to launch a series on the internet but I can’t afford to buy Macromedia Flash.
    Do you think I can use Blender instead of Macromedia Flash?

    Thank you again,

    John

  • sokmunki

    Anyone know how to make “shadeless white material on some bevelled Curve Circles”? I tried it in GIMP, but kept getting undesireable results. I finally put some shadeless white material on some bezier circles and saved the rendered image but it saved as “mask.tga.jpg”. At that point, I gave up and went to bed. I guess it’s not that important overall, but I really want to do this tutorial completely. It looks very good so far and has been easy to follow.

    Thanks for any help

  • John L

    sokmunki

    In the Buttons Window Format panel sellect (Targa) in the menu button with the double arrows.
    This should let you save the file as “mask.tga”

    John

  • Jay J Bee

    Top Tutorials Bart.

    Tanks and keep it up!

    Het is wat druk aan het worden omdat blender populair aan het worden is en ook de mensen met het RTFM -probleem heeft bereikt.

    JayJBee
    “RTFM = Read The F@(&!#% Manual”

  • Prince

    well done bart.
    thanx for your tutorial.i got a lot of epertise from this tutorial.

  • AS

    So sorry I took so long about getting this to you! I was experiencing email trouble when you asked me to send them, and by the time I got it fixed I totally forgot to send you them.

    The first problem is from your blender sequence editor tutorial. This is the file after I am ready to do the first animation. Try animating it, though, and you will see that there are some odd things going on. I finally figured out what was wrong. For some reason the LocRot isnt storing the information! When I go back to frame 1 I see it did NOT save the changes I made to this frame with the LocRot. So now I am totally confused. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to send you the file anymore, just why isnt the LocRot working?

    Again, thanks for your devotion, I can’t wait for your answer.

    Sincerely,
    Alexander

  • AS

    Never mind! I just tried it again after several frustrated attmepts and it worked! I have NO idea what I was doing wrong, but it not only worked, but I was simply amazed at the incredible possibilities of this program! I was shocked that Blender was smart enough to “fill in the blanks” if you know what I mean. Outstanding method for animation!

    Love the Tutorial,
    Alexander

  • AS

    I have had an issue with Blender for a while that constantly gets in my way and forces me to start over. I wonder if you have experienced this too. As soon as I start manipulating the camera or the lamps in the scene, immediately I am permanently in Object Mode and Edit Mode is no longer on the list of modes. Even the TAB key doesn’t work. What am I to do?

    ~Alexander

  • AS

    Okay; I have figured out my first problem, so forget that. Now something worse is occuring. Finally having completed the creation of the cube animation, I went along and saved it to hard drive using your method for both solid and wire cubes. But then, when I tried to load them into the sequence editor, I realized it had saved them as a series of .jpg files (one per frame of the animation) rather than a .avi file. Instead of getting one file called “cube_solid.avi” I get 61 files called “cube_solid.avi0001.jpg”, “cube_solid.avi0002.jpg”, “cube_solid.avi0003.jpg” and so on. Why is this happening? What can I do?

    Thanks for all your help,
    ~Alexander

  • AS

    Nevermind, I figured it all out and completed the tutorial! Excellent tutorial, it has shown me so very much and now I am building off the 4 seconds worth of animation it gave me to create a full-length commercial for my company. Couldn’t have done it without you B@rt! Thanks again! By the way, some suggestions for tutorials you could add to the collection here…Texturing Tutorial, Liquid Tutorial, Game Engine Tutorial, Skeleton Kinematics Tutorial. Just some ideas. I still have to plow through your other tutorials though so take your time! =)
    Great contributions to a growing community–I finally feel as if I have a grasp of Blender and it’s all thanks to you. So thanks!

    ~Alexander

  • sokmunki

    John L. – Thanks for your help. It is greatly appreciated.

    Jay J Bee – Do hwa ju chi ahn nun nom, ko moh woh.

  • John L

    sokmunki
    You’re welcome, any time.
    We all should help each other when we can.
    Have fun.

    Peace,
    John

  • QEDqubit

    Hmmm the Dude calles ‘AS’ seems to have a LOT of frusties !
    Perhaps watching the Greybeard VIDEO tutorials might help him find some peace of mind.
    They bit away a huge piece of my newbie-status !
    and THAT might give Bart some more peace of mind.

    also, any problems presented might be clearer if it is possible to add (links to) images of the problem encountered– in these replies I mean.
    is it ?
    (you can even edit the screenshots in gimp or photoshop(or paint)to indicate which button doesn’t do what you expect or whatever)
    What amazes me most about blender, is the overactive community helping out even people like my sister, who asked the art-director of the PS2-game’killzone’ “can you explain to me how i can make movie ?”
    (sure: just press ‘make movie’)
    THNX ! Blender + community ! i haven’t used 3dsmax in a year !(not planning to eiter !)
    QEDqubit

  • Damion

    i cant use the tutorial it looks good but unfortunitly dosent tell me were these “frames”are i dont know how to get to the timeline (-_-)

  • MercuryCrest

    Hey, great tutorial. I started it when I got the 2.0 guide, lost the book, and am happy to finally have a way to learn the IPO window and NLA Strips.

    I must ask, however, I am using version 2.42a and am having the damnedest time finding the EFFECTS tab for the last animation. I know I’m just looking in the wrong place as I’m well aware how significantly the buttons and menus have changed in the newer versions; I’m just too dense to find it now…help would be appreciated….

  • MercuryCrest

    Sorry, I meant to say “Step 5″ in the above post….

  • MercuryCrest

    Alright, found what I needed. I keep encountering an error and Blender shuts down when I try to render the entire thing, but it works in pieces, so I wonder if this has something to do with my memory….

  • smartalco

    any chance you could post the .blend file of this?

  • http://www.freewebs.com/mycranium Philman

    I have a problem…I am using 2.43 beta… I am doin the sequence tutorial And i got to the point where it wants me to add the two Meta strips together (the solid cubes and the masks). I am trying to make them meta but i cant…any suggestions?

  • http://www.bigscreensupportmachine.com mistamudd

    The section with adding a text logo and randomly animating it……… all a bit quick wasnt it?
    Im afraid I got a bit lost there.

    Keep the text as a text object??? or convert it to a mesh object????

    plus, in the scripts (OBJECT >> SCRIPTS) I see there is a randomise position rotaion scale script. Is it poss to break up a mesh made from text so as to apply individual randomisations to each letter?

    All in all tho, FAB tutorial.

    99.99% Brilliant.

    Cheers Bart et al

    Tom – v 2.43 – AMD 64 512 meg RAM

  • Kadag

    this is maybe a noob problem but here we go…

    as i load the avi files in to the video sequence editor
    and make a window to view the result
    there is nothing but blackness showing up there.

    How do I get to see the out put?

  • Maize

    Hello!

    First of all, great tutorial!
    Now, I just can’t find the EFFECTS tab anywhere… I’m using Blender 2.42a.

  • Maize

    Nevermind, I found it ;)

  • Azuris

    Hi i have troubles to find effect tab button in blender 2.44 could someone please tell me where to find it? In tutorial http://cs.unm.edu/~sketch/gallery/resource/furlib.html says it’s in objects buttons but i don’t find it there.

    Thank U

    Azuris

  • http://lightningismyname.deviantart.com/ LightningIsMyName

    Thanks a lot – I learned new things thanks to this =)

  • Loist

    Hi bart. Can you do more tutorials? Animation, modeling, particles. I’m using blender 2.48.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/rofthorax Kiernan Holland

    I’ve got some tutorials on editing video with blender.. I use it to edit my videos in Ubuntu..
    I’m currently perusing the sequence plugin code, and am trying to figure out what the difference is between facf0 and facf1 in the code, thought I’d might find some description of that here.. Oh well..

  • bongfodder

    Great infomative tutorial though after what seemed like a lot of work I had the same crashing problem as MercuryCrest.User preferences/system&open GL/MEM cache limit change to 1024 fixed it for me.

  • http://RachelsAnimations.com RachelsAnimations

    I’m having some trouble in Part 5…

    I have followed all the steps and when I play/render the animation, the ‘bars’ do not move. The particles are created, however for some reason my ‘bars’ are not attached(?) to the particles.

    Any help?

    Thanks!! ;-D

  • M J

    Hey, this is a great tutorial. I don’t know if anyone answers this anymore, but if so, I could use some help. I was able to get through everything but on page 3 at the forth animation logo step, I am completely lost. What am I making here? I don’t understand. I see that there’s a description of IPOs and stuff, but where am I adding verticies? Which IPO? I’m completely lost.

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  • ELLOOO

    hiya, im realyy happy this tutorial exists, thanku vewy much :)

  • sébastien leclerc

    Great tutorial but page 2,3 and 4 are blank page :-(

  • Adam

    This does not work with 2.49 version..anyone has the same problem and a remedy on it?

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  • Jacob Cooper

    for 2.49 version the do sequence button has some problem but if you Anim with the out put the same just don’t click do sequence then the Images will show up I the blender temp folder or where ever you have blenders loader.

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