Introduction to the Space Sequencer
When we think of a computer program, we think of something finished, closed. You click on it, it opens and, once inside it, you use it to do your stuff. Seen like this, programs are made to work always the same way, executing always the same functions, inside the same interface. If everything works, we are happy; if they don’t, we curse.
Blender changes this conception radically by transforming the logic of how software works. A good example of that is that the program’s own interface – or, in other words, everything we see when we use it – is created at the moment we ask it to run.
It is as if we had a terrain full of scattered material and an entrance gate. When we open that gate, all columns, bricks, glass and tiles that were sparse would start moving about quickly and, almost magically, would put themselves into place. Suddenly, we do not have an empty terrain anymore, but a full house.
By the same example, if we changed the material we have in hand or the architectural design we’d change the final form this house would present itself to us, once it finishes assembling itself. Blender works exactly this same way. At startup, it runs a series of Python scripts that will dictate how the interface is put together. If we change the code inside those scripts, more specifically of a file named Space Sequencer, we’ll have a whole new interface – in our case, one that is more adapted to video editing.
How to change to the modified interface
The first step to install the modified interface in Blender is to download it. Click on the link below to go to the Download Area of the website.
|Addons last update||Feb 25, 2017||Go to the Download Area|
Once downloaded, the file with the new interface (space_sequencer.py) is inside a zipped folder, together with the other Blender Velvets addons. Open it as you would with any regular .zip file and extract them to some place of your choice (for example, at the Desktop).
Notice: On the images and texts below, the used Blender version is 2.72 (highlighted in bold on the text). This number will change as new updates of the program are released.
On Linux and Windows, follow the folder structure as seen on the image and find the one named “bl_ui”.
For those that use MacOS, you have to click with the right mouse button on Blender’s icon and choose “Show package content” to open the hidden folder. When inside it, the path will be something like “Contents > Resourses > 2.72 > scripts > startup > bl_ui” (see image here for MacOS with Blender 2.73 example).
Differences of the new interface
At first glance, the differences between both interfaces seem few. However, the more you use Blender as video editor, the more they will make sense. On the original interface, you have to access the Sequencer properties panel constantly to change an effect value, animate the frame, insert keyframes, change audio volume or panning. Since all those controls are spread out, you have to scroll up and down and look for them frequently. Blender also controls the Sequencer timeline via another window called “Timeline”, something that doesn’t make much sense when we want to insert or remove whole sections of our narrative line at every moment.
The original Video Sequence Editor (VSE) interface,
highlighting the sections that will be altered
The modified Video Sequence Editor (VSE) interface,
highlighting the sections that have been altered
The modified interface aims to improve the flow of the process as a whole in practice eliminating the need of using the Sequencer properties panel and reorganizing the relevant controls on the Monitor window. Used together with the Velvet Goldmine addon, the control of the Sequencer timeline is made via keyboard shortcuts, improving considerably the speed and ease with which that task is done – and it is done many and many times, even for simple editing projects.
The Monitor properties panel now also exhibits a very useful button that defines the output render size (Set Render Size). With it, you can select one of the video strips on the Sequencer timeline and define the resolution for the whole project based on it. This is especially useful for projects using proxies, since we have to change resolutions for doing intermediate renders, at the proxies SD resolution (standard definition), and doing full resolution renders, usually at 720p or 1080p. Notice that this information about the project’s resolution is shown also at the Monitor window. Those allow us to focus on the editing project without having to access the “Properties” panel all the time.
Below, some of the main differences between both interfaces are highlighted, but it’s only by using the program that they will become evident. Chances are that if you use the modified interface and the Blender Velvets addons, you will not be able to use Blender without wanting to install them first.
The relevant buttons (1) are on Blender’s “Timeline” window, which controls the Sequencer timeline extension on the project. This requires the use of both windows, “Timeline” and “Video Sequence Editor” (2) to manipulate something that should be controlled only by the latter. The channels, or tracks, properties (3) are also spread out or clogged, making navigation slow (4).
The relevant buttons and a new info section about the timeline length (1) are now inside the “Video Sequence Editor” window, making the use of the “Timeline” window (2) redundant. The controls for the Sequencer timeline length are now activated by the Velvet Goldmine shortcuts. Relevant properties related to the channels, or tracks, (3) are now in the Monitor window (see below), allowing us to hide the Sequencer Properties panel. Those open more space for a bigger timeline.
The Monitor window has a lot of unused space both at its bottom (1) and at its Properties panel (2).
With the changes, the bottom of the Monitor window (1) now shows info on the project’s resolution and framerate, as well as render size in percentage. Its Properties panel (2) centralizes and organizes the most relevant controls for each kind of strip (video, audio, image, effects) and exhibits now information, such as the strips’ length and place on the timeline in SMPTE. The Strip Modifiers, for image treatment, are also at hand here, for when you color grade your video.
A typical use of the modified interface on a project. Without the “Timeline” window and without the Sequencer Properties panel, the project’s timeline has considerably more space while the Monitor window gains strength centralizing the main controls related to the strips. Information on the strips and on the project’s main attributes are visible at all times.