Archive for August 28th, 2008

Video recipe: Macaronopita

My mother, Barbara, is showing us how to cook macaronopita (also makaronopita), a pasta-based Epirus-Greek pie recipe. One of the best foods to take with you on picnics or trips.

Shot with a cheap Kodak V1233 digicam. The video has no editing niceties or direction, it’s just a point-and-shoot handheld video at my mother’s kitchen. HD version here.

Sony Vegas Platinum 9

Sony Vegas Platinum 9, released a few days ago, is the most flexible consumer video editor out there. To me, it’s the best bang for the buck editor for the $85 it costs. Sony added full customization support on its h.264 encoder now, it has full 1920×1080 read/write AVCHD support, better HDV support and more. If you are looking for a cheap editor that’s full featured and not “dumb and drop” like iMovie or Ulead, then this is the one for you.

I have two problems with Platinum 9 though:

1. The newly added “new project” wizard. I think the wizard was a good idea, but the screen where it asks you what kind of project you want (e.g. DVD, Blu-Ray etc), is the worst thing ever. I really don’t understand how Sony could make such a tragic usability and technical error. You see, it’s very easy for someone to pick the DVD option while his/her source video is HD. Problem is, when this person comes back to that project weeks or months later and wants an HD export, several elements in the timeline will not automatically adjust to the new resolution (e.g. the text frame sizes must be changed manually throughout the video if the project properties change). Let alone that most people don’t know in the first place that they must adjust the project properties before export in HD (and that can lead to massive quality loss). Heck, there’s not even a 1920×1080 option in that list! To add to that, editing in a non-native resolution/frame rate, has up to 50% speed decrease in overall performance. So what the hell was Sony thinking when introduced this wizard that asks what your target export is? Don’t they know that people export in more than one formats/targets? Don’t they know that most people don’t even use the project properties so they won’t go change them before exporting in HD? Don’t they know that performance goes down? Thankfully, for those few of us who know, there is still the “match media” icon in the project properties dialog. Moral of the story: always edit in the native properties of your video. Decide how to export at the very end. All Sony needed to do in the wizard was to launch the “match media” procedure instead of the “how do you want to export” dialog. On a mixed-format project, all it was needed was to ask the user to “match” a file that represents the dominant format of the project.

2. After enough bickering, Sony added 1920×1080 AVCHD export in the free update v9.0a (the original v9.0 didn’t support this). Unfortunately, the AVCHD “custom” export screen still doesn’t let you specify 24p even if it easily could let you do that (23.976 frame rate and progressive field order, that is). Consumer camcorders like the Panasonic SD9 support such formats. While this omission doesn’t affect everybody, there is no workaround.

If Sony fixes these two issues, I think we are looking at a near-perfect consumer editor.

New Fall TV Shows

A few new TV shows start this season, some of them might turn to be interesting as it seems to be a trend to have a sci-fi/fantasy elements in them, although they certainly are rehashes of older ideas we’ve seen before:

* Crusoe. A guy shipwrecked on a tropical island tries to make it back home.
* Eleventh Hour. A tech/science-type detective. Obviously a crime drama geared towards geeks.
* Fringe. An X-Files/Alias type of paranormal drama. Might make it big, might not.
* Kings. The biblical story about David, but set in our time and world.
* Knight Rider. This one is going to suck, just like its preview movie did.
* Life on Mars. Yet another detective drama, but this one has some time travel elements. Remake of a BBC drama.
* The Mentalist. Another detective story. Between “Psyche” and “Life” last year, we’ve seen it all before.
* My Own Worst Enemy. Multiple-personalities spy thriller.
* Dollhouse. Multiple-personalities spy thriller. You read that right.

Random Stuff, Part 23

* Back from Greece. Too long of an overall flight time for my taste (15 hours, 3 flights one of which had a stop).

* To everyone who is looking for a business idea: bubble-bursting touchscreen device for babies. My 8-month niece would usually throw away her normal-looking toys after 15 seconds — she quickly grew bored with them. But when I gave her the iPhone… with the iPhone she was totally surprised. She wouldn’t stop bursting bubbles with the two such iPhone bubble games I had installed in it. Especially with the one of them, where she could use more than one finger on the screen at the time, she wouldn’t stop playing! Now, that’s a toy for smart babies!

* I am thinking of growing some tomatoes on our balcony. I got jealous of the nice tomatoes I had in Greece during my stay from our vegetable garden.

* My mom prepared and cooked some kokoretsi for us. That’s most of the animal internals, well-cleaned, and tangled together. Then, roasted.

* This was the first time that I felt that I didn’t want to leave Greece after being vacating there for a few days. I was happy there.