Creating custom transitions with FFmpeg

Tutorials – Video Editing

Article from Issue 209/2018

Most video editors supply you with a generic catalog of transitions, usually in the shape of tired wipes and fades. But what if you wanted something a little more special? FFmpeg to the rescue.

A transition is a way of moving a film's narrative from one scene to the next. It differs from a cut in that a transition is gradual: The new scene wipes in from the left or fades in while the old scene fades out, etc. A cut, on the other hand, just jumps to the new scene.

Transitions in videos are like transitions in Powerpoint presentations: Unless used ironically or in Star Wars movies, they are generally considered tacky and old-fashioned. The stock transitions that come with most graphic video editors are the worst in that respect. However, custom – let's call them "vanity" – transitions can be fun, especially if they are over the top, which is what I was aiming for when I started this project.

In preparing a promotional video for an issue of Raspberry Pi Geek [1], instead of using the stock transitions, I thought it would be fun to have an animation cross the screen, uncovering the next scene in its wake. You can see the effect at the 30-second mark in Figure 1.


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