Astronomy observatories and software

We visited Mt Hamilton east of San Jose yesterday. There are at least 4-5 big telescopes/observatories at the peak, belonging to the Berkeley university. Cool stuff.

I shot a bit of handheld video there, and when I came back home I took a shot with the Sony Vegas 7a Platinum. Well, it’s a pain in the ass to use that application, I am just not happy with the amount of polish it has (or lack of). For example, it won’t scene-detect HDV (while it does for plain DV, I had to use an external tool after the fact), its external capture app won’t do HDV at all, if you don’t specifically tell it to use transitions there is this ugly black screen between the shots (you can see those in my rough-cut video below), while the application uses lots of RAM when you simply add more media files on the Media placeholder (I am NOT talking about the timeline, that’s extra RAM), and finally, it is extremely slow playing back HDV when previewing (even in low quality setting — it is the only NLE in the market that is so slow previewing HDV video).

And when exporting, its dialogs are stupidly terrible. I have widescreen video, I want to export as widescreen in low-res, but it won’t let me have a custom resolution and set the anamorphic bit or not, it HAS to be QVGA anamorphic, which plays well on WMP/VLC, but other players and YouTube fuck it up and they render my 1.333-proportioned video as 1.000 (so it looked out of proportion on YouTube before I re-uploaded with the new format). It is an utterly ridiculous situation and re-enforces my opinion as to how much software sucks in general (update: I tried to force letterboxing as it won’t let me pick a custom resolution and that trick worked better, although their usability designers should definitely look at QuickTimePro’s UI for letterboxing).

iMovie, while it only has 1/20 of the features of Vegas, it is a joy to use (for its limited feature-set that is). Its UI just MAKES SENSE and does what the user EXPECTS (including the export settings). And no, the Vegas problems are not because of the too many features or because it was supposed to be a “pro” app, it is because it’s written and managed by idiots with no vision and without a sense of what’s LOGICAL. It is an incoherent app, it’s as simple as that. I have literally spent only 1 hour with Vegas using it since I installed it on Thursday (and I didn’t even write about my adventures on their support site trying to find updates), and I found (and confirmed by googling) what, 4-5 usability/technical problems already? How pathetic is that?

I am telling you people: software sucks. And when the software engineers don’t actually suck, the usability engineers do. Either way, most of the time users are screwed.

3 Comments »

Luis wrote on June 25th, 2007 at 1:04 AM PST:

By the way, do you know anything new about DIVA? Is MDK working on porting it to MLT framework? Or did he give it up completely?

Now that Dan Dennedy dropped Kino to concentrate in MLT and that Kdenlive is using it quite successfully, it would help a lot to have a GTK app also using it.

Did you take a look at Kdenlive already? Of course not as a replacement for Vegas or even iMovie right now, but just to check how it’s doing (especially since you plan to meet Dan Dennedy). There are packages in Arch now, so it’s just a “pacman -S kdenlive-svn” away (if you have “community” enabled) Yes, it needs QT and Kdelibs…


JBQ wrote on June 25th, 2007 at 2:27 AM PST:

That’s typical of software that’s implemented without having been designed.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 25th, 2007 at 6:31 AM PST:

DIVA is dead. As for KDEnLive, I don’t have KDE installed neither I want it installed, but I did try it on another machine and it was crashy. At least Vegas does not crash.

Personally, I am not happy with the state of any video editor, on any platform. As I wrote the other day, video editors have not reached maturity yet the way Photoshop has. It will take 3-5 more years before one or two of them does. And it won’t be a consumer version.


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