Archive for October 29th, 2007

Nathan on TV

I was watching “Journeyman” (NBC) on TV tonight, and then a character comes on screen, and I was thinking “wait, I know this guy…”. And it was my online friend Nathan Baesel. Apparently he also guest starred on last Friday’s episode of “Murder Women’s Club” (ABC) and the previous week’s “Numb3rs”. He didn’t blog about it at all though, so I had no idea about the last two shows. Needless to say that I was (positively) surprised to see him out of the blue on TV tonight. He did an amazing job on tonight’s episode of “Journeyman” btw (he played the bomber at a later age)!

NBC Universal chief says Apple “destroyed” music pricing

NBC Universal chief flat-out said that Apple and iTunes had “destroyed the music business” in terms of pricing and that video was next unless “we take control.”

Given the fact that Warner wants to pull out of iTunes too, I can only say two things to Apple:

1. Ditch them first and go DRM-free indie all the way.
2. Add support for normal USB media players instead of just iPod, just so you increase your iTunes market share even more.

Then, these studios/majors will come back crying and begging for crumbs. Apple is strong enough to “educate” its users to prefer indie.

Vouno! Thalassa! Vouno! Thalassa…

I grew up in Greece, in Epirus. Epirus is full of bare mountains and few trees. Most of it it’s eaten away by the goats and sheep. Naturally, when I want to go for vacations, I want to see the opposite of what I grew up with: trees, lots of green, rivers, fluffy animals etc.

JBQ on the other hand grew up in France, which has quite some green. And so he prefers to go to places like the Death Valley, Grand Canyon and anything else that looks like a complete desert to me. I don’t like anything that resembles deserts. Which is one of the reasons why I didn’t accompany him in his recent trip to Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

We have trouble finding places that we both enjoy for vacations, but thankfully seaports do it for both of us. For the next few years we have already discussed the possibility of visiting Alaska, Hawaii, and maybe a cruise trip from US to Europe.

Sony Vegas Tips & Tricks

1. Vegas requires that you have the right project settings, or it will not only be very slow to preview video, but it can mess up the output. So always know what your source video is (e.g. frame rate, frame size, aspect ratio etc) and immediately choose the right project settings upon creating a new project. Choose “progressive scan” in the field order and “interpolation” in the de-interlace method if you prefer to edit and export in a de-interlaced way.

2. It is much faster to encode when you have resized your images before you import them on Vegas. So for example, if your digicam is 10 megapixel, you will have to resize these pictures to the Vegas project size in order to ensure not only the best quality and speed, but also stability (some versions of Vegas have a bug where it eventually runs out of RAM on videos that have too many huge pictures in them). So, first download this batch resizing utility from Microsoft and install it. Then, you must find out the correct size you need to resize your pictures to. For example, if your pictures are 4:3 and your video is NTSC 720×480, then you should resize your pictures at 655×480 because the aspect ratio of NTSC video is 0.9091. For PAL it should be 768×576. These values are good for widescreen templates too. For HDV resize to 1620×1080. However, if you decide to resize in project properties size, that should be fine too (it depends how the video editor treats these images).

3. Use the “Best (Full)” preview quality in order to view how the video will actually be rendered. When using the default “preview (auto)” quality you don’t get to see resampling artifacts or if the de-interlacing is working or not. Use “preview (auto)” quality only when you simply want to quickly and speedy preview your clips. Also recommended is to right click on the preview window and uncheck the “scale video…” option and check the “simulate…” one. This way you get a more accurate view of how the video will look like when rendered out.

4. I found that 60i video converted to 30p looks better when the interlacing method is set to “interpolation” and when you right-click on clips that have horizontal panning and you go to their properties dialog and there you “disable resampling”. Resampling is useful for vertical pannings, but it can mess up the horizontal ones. This is useful also if you are doing stop motion animation work or fast/slow motion: it makes your footage to not have ghosting.

5. When you render out (especially for the PSP) use the “Best” quality in the project properties dialog. It takes longer to encode in “Best” quality, but if you are encoding in “Good” quality only there is a visible loss of quality if you have white text on black background on your video.

6. To preview frame by frame in the preview window use “ALT+arrow keys” left and right. To move a clip left or right by one frame each time in the timeline, make sure the num-lock is ON, and click the “1” or “3” keys on the numeric keypad.

7. It is not obvious how to remove a transition properly and the manual doesn’t mention it. Zoom-in in the transition, select it, right click it and select “transition properties”. From there, select the little “+x” icon next to the questionmark at the top of the dialog. This will remove the transition and won’t “convert to cut”, which has the bad habit of cutting down A/V parts of your clips or “convert to crossfade” that you might or might not want.

8. When capturing HDV video, Vegas has the bad habit of stopping the capturing if you moved your windows focus to another application. To change that, click the “Prefs” button on the “Capture” tab and uncheck the “Stop device on loss of focus”.

9. If you want to do slow motion work, record at 60i at 1/120th shutter speed, even if the rest of your project is 24p or shot on a different shutter speed. Recording as suggested will provide a smoother slow-motion video with Vegas.

10. Exporting for the TV requires an extra step or two for better color precision.

11. If you use Cineform’s own tools to capture/re-encode, Vegas Platinum 8.0 to 8.0c has a bug and won’t recognize the file format (all other versions/editions don’t have the bug). To go around the bug go to C:\Program Files\Sony\Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8.0\, rename away the “cfhd.dll” file and restart Vegas Platinum 8. Vegas will now use Cineform’s own library instead of Sony’s for that file type and your files will be recognized. Vegas Platinum 8.0d+ has this bug fixed, so upgrade to it.