Archive for January 13th, 2008

My new monitor setup

And so here’s my new office setup, one 22″ Viewsonic 1680×1050 monitor, and the new 28″ HannsG 1920×1200 monitor. I can now use the new one as my “secondary video display” on Vegas and edit my HD content in 1:1 size, which gives me a much better perspective of the overall quality of each clip, color grading etc. In fact, now I can see how noisy the HV20 really is at full resolution! Apple’s 1080p movie trailers look great though.

I will miss my old Samsung vertical 1200×1600 21″ monitor that served me well as my document/web reader monitor for the past 3 years. I also have a 32″ 1080i HDTV that I can connect to the PC, I guess I could just stick a second graphics card to my PC and have all 4 monitors connected at the same time. Oh, yeah…

Videography is art

A second person in the past few weeks told me that hobbyist artistic videography is “meaningless”, and that has pissed the hell out of me. I will say this only once:

Videography done like on some of the videos below is art. Art is anything that can create or boost an emotion. And many of these videos do that. Not everyone’s videos are art, but there are some very capable amateur enthusiasts that know how to shoot, know how to edit and know what they want to present on screen (e.g. Charlie McCarthy, Remyyy). And this is NOT something that everyone can do. Absolutely not. It’s not as easy as it seems. It’s not as simple as taking a camera and pointing into random things. And editing at the end is an art in itself. I CHALLENGE you, the random reader of this blog, to take your camcorder and try to do something “beautiful & artistic” with it (expensive equipment is not required). Chances are, you will fail. It’s not as easy as it seems.

Beautiful imagery is not meaningless either. Cameras are not created just so we have a plot each and every time with a John Wayne style script. That’s just only one usage of cameras. Video cameras are nothing but “moving pictures”, and as beautiful still pictures are considered art, same for the moving ones.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, we will have to find an equivalent art to compare. And that’s the DEMOSCENE back in the ’90s. In fact, these two scenes are producing similarly-looking products. From wikipedia: “What began as a type of electronic graffiti on cracked software became an art form unto itself” and “the most experimental, unusual and controversial demos are often referred to as art demos or abstract demos.” As the demoscene developer has to be both an artist and a technical person at the same time, same for a videographer, he/she will have to master both. And some of these people out there, have done so. But they are VERY FEW who have done so successfully (no, I am not among them). Which is why videography is interesting, and why it’s true modern art: it’s challenging.

Random stuff, part 3

* I watched “El Mariachi” tonight. This is a 1992 Mexican movie that was shot for just $7000 and made it to the big screen with a 7.0 rating at IMDb. Another cheap movie is “Primer“, also shot for $7000, but in USA in 2004. I keep thinking that if the “Primer” creator had used a digital camcorder instead of 16mm (e.g. the Canon Optura Xi which was a pretty good model for the money at the time) he would have been able to make the movie for cheaper. If you are a video enthusiast you owe it to yourself to watch these two movies. They are the epitome of true indie film making and already legendary for that status. And of course, buy the “DV’s Rebel Guide” book. It’s the ultimate “that’s how you do it for dirt cheap” indie film book.

“El Mariachi” trailer

* Last night I watched the lighting tutorial DVD that came with the reflectors I bought two months ago. It was very interesting and simple, it really demystified lighting for me. I feel that I am ready to actually correctly use lights if I want to shoot a music video clip or short movie. Highly recommended to get these reflectors, if not for the included DVD too!

* I spent the day re-encoding some of my favorite Vimeo videos in a format that the PS3 can playback. I have a collection of about 85 videos so far. The PS3 is powerful and doesn’t sweat in HD playback, but its UI is not as good as AppleTV’s regarding media. Hopefully, Jobs will announce the AppleTV 2.0 on Tuesday, but I need it to not only be able to deliver 1080/30p, but also to playback WMV and DivX/XViD in order to be useful to me.

“Primer” trailer

* I published a review of the Nokia N82. Expect next week a review of a 28″ PC 1920×1200 monitor too. I used it for editing my HD footage in 1:1 size, and I must say that for the first time I was able to see clearly how noisy the HV20 is — and the HDV-encoded artifacts too. In all truth told, if you want a “super clean” final cut, the HV20 is able to deliver a good 720p video, but at full 1080p it’s noisy and artifact-prone if you stick your nose to the monitor and you get careful on what you are looking at.

* Havoc Pennington left Red Hat. I don’t know where he’s going next, I wish him good luck, but I also feel sad because the last true leader on Gnome has left the house.

Chicken livers

Chicken livers the way my mom makes them. I personally prefer chicken hearts (cooked the same way as below), but livers are nice too.

Ingredients (for 2)
* 1 cup of chicken livers
* 1 cup of canned chunked tomatoes
* 1/3 cup green frozen peas
* white rice of your choice
* A bit of jalapeño pepper
* 1 shallot, diced
* 1 garlic clove, crashed
* 2 tbspoons olive oil
* 1 tbspoon butter
* salt & pepper

Execution
1. Put the livers in a drainer and run lots of cold water through them to make sure there is not much of their “bloody” juice left.
2. In a pan, add the oliver oil and shallot under high heat. When the shallot starts to get golden, add the livers and stir regularly.
3. Bring the chunked tomatoes into your cutting board and dice them smaller if they are too chunky. Dice the jalapeño in small pieces too.
4. When the livers start getting some brown color and most of their juice has evaporated, add the tomatoes and jalapeño pepper pieces. Also add the garlic clove and some salt and pepper. Stir occasionally.
5. After about 2-3 minutes, lower the heat to “low”, and add 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and let it cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is now thick.
6. Fifteen minutes before that happens, cook the rice as per package instructions. Also add in the pan with it the peas. After draining the peas and rice, bring them back to the pan and “butter” them. Serve both the rice and livers immediately.

Chicken livers