Open source Jahshaka sets sights on Hollywood

Cross-platform video editor to turn creators into broadcasters

Professional video editing software may cost thousands of dollars but one open source project, Jahshaka, is aiming to change the game by providing all the features in a real time, networked environment. Jahshaka is a video and film compositing, editing and special effects system that uses hardware rendering to give users real time interactivity. Computerworld spoke with the project's founder, Jah Shaka, about the little application that could change the content creation game for good.

Tell us a bit about the history of Jahshaka and your motives for starting the project.

I started The Jahshaka Project around five years ago with the motivation to raise the state of media in the Caribbean and third-world countries. At the time, real-time production gear cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and was out of reach for pretty much everyone I knew.

The project was really inspired by a project I worked on with UNESCO in Jamaica that had the same goals; however, they were going about it the wrong way. Their idea was to buy really expensive systems and put them in the hands of low end facilities - thereby creating a ripple effect that would spread outwards. Unfortunately, the ripple didn't get very far since no one else could afford to upgrade. But that was before open source, where everyone can get involved and fuel the growth of the ripple!

The other inspiration I got was from the [Salvador] Dali museum in Florida where I got to see his work in 3D space... Dali was a visionary and saw 3D as an art form before most people new what 3D was all about. I like to consider myself a digital artist but I'm just a better coder than I am an artist...

So Jahshaka is really immersive 3D content creation - but it provides a bridge between 2D and 3D by allowing you to view the content you create either way. All the Jahshaka demo clips (in the gallery on jahshaka.com) look really cool in 2D but when you play them back on a 3D display device you get a feeling that this is really a whole different world.

How is the project going today and how much interest and support has it generated?

Well, I guess the main thing about our project is the end users are really digital artists and not coders so we don't get as much support as we would like from the development community. But where we loose out there we gain by the support we get from our user community who have done wonders in inspiring Jahshaka creation and helping to guide us along our way.

I would say that I am "addicted to coding" as I have spent over a year of full time work on Jahshaka myself (with no income) with others helping out along the way. I would say that I try to put in a few hours a day if and when possible... and every now and then I take a break and put a week in to catch up. Recently we have been getting more and more help from developers who also get hooked on the project.

The project is really moving ahead nicely. We are also building quite a user base and with every release Jahshaka gets more powerful and becomes more stable. [Version] 2.0 (released in October, 2006) will be our first 'product ready' version complete with uncompressed video I/O, audio and video editing, and GPU acceleration all in real time! We have been held up a bit waiting on OpenML - a cross platform media toolkit necessary to open up media devices to the world - but OpenML adoption is off to a good start.

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Rodney Gedda

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