Hello pannomatte !
It is true that cinelerra has a limited import file format support. As it’s predecessor bcast2k, it can only load JPEG, JPEG images lists and quicktime .mov files. But then again this is the case with almost all video editing programs in Linux in general. Cinelerra has a better export file format support, than bcast, at least from what I have seen untill now, including JPEG, TGA, TIFF, MPEG, AVI, QUICKTIME etc.
I haven’t heard about renderfarm till now, I will check it and tell you. It seems promising.
As for documentation, since cinelerra is identical to bcast2k, you can use bcast’s documentation, for it.
Malefico, had once a very good tutorial on making movies with Blender and bcast2000 and I think it is still there at his web page. I followed his instructions and made a small video clip with cinelerra in seconds(cinelerra works exactly as bcast2k).
Check it out:
You can find there instructions, links for documentation on bcast2k and also a hacked version of broadcast 2000, that supports even DivX encoding. DivX by the way, is a really interesting case as an authoring format although you could also check bink from radtools.
I can even send you a copy of my SuSE 7.3 handbook by e-mail next week (I 'll be on vacation for a week) if you like. It has a chapter about audio editing with bcast2k.
That’s all I can think of by now. The rest I am in the learning process also. I 'm waiting to hear from you, bye…