Quick Intro
User Guide
System Design
File Formats
Object Layout
Debugging Guide
Timeline View
Frame Server

The Cuisine system is a flexible software system to work with and edit video and audio. It has a few new XML file formats, some Python libraries, some C Python extensions, and a bunch of tools of varying sizes.

File formats

Cuisine starts with the file formats. All media files have description files that contain all their metadata (duration, size, annotations, etc). Some Cuisine tools create these files; most read them.

Show files describe an arrangement of media clips, effects, and edits as edited by toss (the GUI timeline-style editor).


Cuisine includes Python interfaces to interfaces to:

Cuisine also contains a small Python module written in C that quickly put YUV image data from libdv onto an SDL video overlay surface. Pygame is used to control SDL for the most part, but Pygame doesn't include routines to setup a YUV overlay.

Timeline editing

The toss tool is a GUI for editing show files with a timeline interface. The big difference between toss and the timeline GUIs you'd get in Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere is that toss hardly cares what you do with its tracks. You can arrange a project almost any way you want.

To indicate how the footage and effects should be used, toss lets timeline objects reference each other. See the user guide or timeline view docs for more about this system.


Rather than implementing certain effects within the editor code and making some API to let people write plugins, the Cuisine system treats anything that involves altering the media as an effect. Cropping and concatenating media is internal, as is extracting audio and video components from files that contain both.

Almost anything past resequencing media is an external effect. Although I provide an audio mixer effect (which does the traditionally hidden job of mixing several audio tracks into one), you could replace it with your own 96KHz 48bit audio mixer code if you want to. If you need a slightly different wipe than one I've written, ape my 10-line gimp script and write your own. Cuisine's design will make the effects easy for me (and others) to write.

Asset management

Although Cuisine has some asset management tools, it may not be a complete asset management solution for your situation. Hopefully the readable, verbose file formats and the easy APIs will allow good integration with other asset management systems. Cuisine's loose file formats might even be a good choice to hold other metadata that's related to the clips and shows.

Crude comparison chart

Please don't measure the products based on this chart. It's just a summary of some of the interesting differences. I haven't even used all the programs listed; some fields are guesses. Please send me corrections (or additions).

Cuisine Kino Cinelerra FCP
Timeline/track editingyes no yes yes
LicenseGPL GPL GPL Commercial
File formatsRaw DV, DV in AVI DV in AVI, maybe more don't know Any Quicktime?
EffectsComes with audio mixdown, no image effects yet Some audio and video effects Many Many
LanguagePython, some C libsC++C++unknown