Archive for September 10th, 2007

Drist’s two albums

After 2 weeks of having ordered the two Drist CDs from CDBaby, I finally got them. Apparently the package was waiting for me for over a week at the main apartment building office. The post office employee never bothered to either knock my door to deliver the package, or even leave a paper to say where the package was… Today, I decided to go and ask the main office, and voila, two packages were waiting there. One from CDBaby with the 2 CDs in it, and one from India with a hardware h.264 encoder dongle in it (they sent it to me for a review).

So, I heard both albums this afternoon in their entirety (I only had heard a part of them so far at YouTube and Drist’s own myspace site). My favorite is their second album, “Orchids and Ammunition” (iTunes). I pretty much like all the songs in it. The first album “Bitter Halo” (iTunes) is also good, it has at least 4 great songs in it, but maybe it is a bit too “metal” for me. The second one is more melodic, more catchy. I like catchy…

Can’t wait for their 3rd album. 🙂

I hate EDTVs

There is no real standard resolution for widescreen EDTVs. I am talking about these TVs sold about 3-5 years ago as “HDTVs”, even if they weren’t real HDTVs. They were usually flat panels with a resolution of 8XXx480. And I am writing this as “8xx” and not as 848px, because some of these TVs were 848 pixels wide, others were 850, others 852 and others 853. So, what’s the standard widescreen EDTV pixel count? No one knows.

The real NTSC 480p resolution is 720×480. But its anamorphic value is not set to stone. For example, widescreen miniDV camcorders will record in 720×480, but with anamorphic value of 872.722222 pixels wide. However, most DVDs use a resolution of 852×480 when played back. While Panasonic’s HD digicams will record in 848×480. So, is there any bloody standard for the anamorphic value or not?!?

I know that when using CRT TVs it doesn’t really matter as everything displayed in there is analog, but when using LCDs that have a precise pixel count, you can f*ck up the playback quality just because the TV will stretch in/out the video if it doesn’t adhere to its expected 480p-anamorphic pixel count.

JBQ suggests to me to export 480p videos in the actual 720×480 resolution with the anamorphic bit set instead of exporting directly to the anamorphic resolution. My problem is, video players and devices are so f*cking buggy that they don’t take anamorphism into account. I am mostly talking to you VLC and AppleTV.

Because of this sad state, I can only suggest to users with miniDV camcorders to export to DVD and be done with it. Whatever it comes out of it. Otherwise, if you are a pixel-perfectionist like I am, get an HD camera and only export in true HD resolutions (don’t bother with HDV’s 1440×1080 as it’s also anamorphic).

And sell your 5 year old LCD EDTV and buy a real HDTV. If you can’t sell it, throw it out of the window. I am not kidding.

De-interlacing with Vegas

Here’s how to de-interlace with Vegas your own camcorder video. Do not de-interlace if your target format is recording back to the camcorder tape, but do so for all other target formats (e.g. PC viewing, devices, AppleTV etc). First of all, make sure that your “Project settings” look like this for HDV (use a DV template if your camcorder is a plain DV one, but keep the field order, rendering quality and de-interlace method the same):

Also, on your Preview Window make sure your setting is at either Preview(Auto) for HDV, or Good(Auto) for plain DV (otherwise you will see interlacing jaggies on the preview screen). Then, edit as you normally would. When exporting, if Vegas’ “save” dialog has the “Custom” button enabled, click it, navigate to the “Video” tab and select “None (progressive scan)” for the “Field Order”. Please note that not all format types have this option, but .avi and .mov do (and .mp4 on Vegas Pro). The .wmv option does that automatically, so in this case change the “Field Order” back to “Lower or Upper first” before rendering. Then, just render out.

I did several tests with de-interlacing methods and the one that works best for Vegas is the “Interpolate” method. I also tried a freeware open source plugin for Vegas (“Smart De-interlacer”) which was not that smart. Stay with Vegas’ own interpolation algorithm.

Everyone sues everyone else

What a mess the copyright law has created. Lawsuits left and right today. JBQ argues that the mess is created by the people’s inability to follow the law and not infringe on copyrights, while others (like myself) would claim that the copyright law is presently too restrictive for the consumer and therefore it leaves them no alternative but to infringe.

This is “popular art” we are talking about. It can’t be “popular” without more people enjoying it or using it. If everyone was to pay a $1.99 fee to see Britney Spears on the MTV VMAs last night instead of just tuning to a video sharing site (YouTube already removed 5 such videos on Viacom’s request today), Britney would never be who she is and her parent companies would not be either. In other words, it takes some *flexibility* on their part in order to maximize their revenue as entertainment companies. They should get their license money from other professionals, not Joe Viewer and video sharing sites with 10-minute upload limit.

That being said, I am against sharing full movies and shows. That’s real piracy and I don’t endorse it. It took a LOT of money and time to create these works. Just last night we were checking out the “Oblivion” PS3 game and its credits were ENDLESS. I couldn’t believe how many people worked on that game!

However, a 3-minute funny scene from a show, should not be chased away because in reality it will serve as advertisement. Neither chase users who post music video clips online (heck, the video clip was created in the ’80s just for advertisement purposes anyway). Neither chase them away when they use a commercial song as background music for their own home videos. That’s how “fair use” should be expanded to and become a consumer right (currently it is not). Not because I don’t want the copyright holder to exercise his/her rights, but because it was his/her decision to make business in a field (“entertainment”) that is so important in people’s lives today. Even if this is sad of course, because entertainment should not be THAT important. People should not CARE to post these Britney videos in the first place. But they do. And because that’s how this capitalistic materialistic society is built, corporations should be flexible to accommodate it, because they HELPED building it. ‘Cause if they don’t, THEY will lose. You can’t stop people’s will and wishes — no matter how unfair or stupid they are.

Conclusion: the copyright law must be reformed, especially in the “fair use” area. That’s what democracy means: what the majority of people want, and not necessarily what’s fair or right. Guess what, there are more “people” out there than Viacom/Universal/Warner/Sony execs put together. Bad luck for the execs.

iPhone roaming charges

According to this article, even if your iPhone is OFF, it will still connect and try to fetch email. First of all, the iPhone should not be doing this automatically when it’s realizing that it’s on roaming. Secondly, this is one of the two reasons why removable batteries are so important. The other reason is unwarranted surveillance.

A video of Foster City

This is where we live, Foster City in California (in the Silicon Valley area). My pans are not very smooth, I can’t seem to manage them. 720p HD version available here (83 MBs).