Archive for June, 2009

Faking PF24 Pulldown Removal with Vegas

UPDATE, November 2009: This method doesn’t work anymore, I am investigating why. It only works if you export at 960×540 instead.

Sony Vegas does not have a proper way of removing pulldown removal on PF24 streams, but there is a hack/workaround that can work just fine for some users. There are limitations to this “fake” PF24 pulldown removal, but if someone is willing to live with these limitations, the result is acceptable.

So, basically, by telling Vegas that this is HDV-24p footage (and if you run the Pro version, by creating an HDV-24p SMPTE timeline), it attempts pulldown removal. Because Vegas only supports pulldown removal from streams that have attributes (e.g. from Sony’s cameras rather than the consumer Canons), the removal fails.

However, if you drop the project properties *and* exporting quality to “preview” quality, Vegas drops a field and the pulldown removal is successful. Not only there are no duplicate frames used, but you get a clean output (no ghosting). In fact, the pulldown removal is frame-by-frame sync’ed to a Cineform’s pulldown removed version of the clip — which tells me that the timestamp output is correct. Not only that, but Vegas does pulldown removal even more correctly than Cineform (my Cineform NeoHD seemed to completely ignore and crop-out the last 4-5 frames out of a 14 sec PF24 clip, while Vegas didn’t).

Here are the advantages:
1. No need to transcode to any other format. You edit as you normally would, directly.
2. It’s the easiest method to deal with PF24’s ghosting.
3. Works with both PF24 from HDV and AVCHD Canon cameras (possibly the consumer Panasonics too).
4. Works with both Vegas Pro and Platinum (although the Pro has the additional ability to set an SMPTE 24p-HDV timeline).
5. Faster exporting at the end, at “preview” quality 720p. Will look just fine on Youtube/Vimeo HD or on PS3/XBoX360/AppleTV.

And, here are the limitations:
1. You can only edit/export in “preview” quality. This means that color grading, effects, and added text will NOT look as good as if you had used “best” quality to edit/export.
2. You can’t export above 720p. In fact, because the “preview” quality drops one field, the real resolution you get out of this trick is 540p. But upresizing to 720p from 540p, is not a big deal. However, you can NOT export in 1440×1080 or 1920×1080, or the interlacing will kick in, as shown in the images below.

Exporting in “best” quality will result in the default PF24 look when pulldown is not removed: ghosting whenever there’s movement in the scene.

Exporting in “preview” quality at full 1080p, interlacing kicks in, since the “preview” setting doesn’t take deinterlacing into account.

Exporting in “preview” quality at 720p (or 540p) does the right thing: no ghosting, no interlacing, and no duplicated frames. Pulldown is removed.

If you are good with these limitations (quality/resolution), here’s how to go about it:
Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Twitter Update for 2009-06-30

  • Sushi was great: tuna, salmon, halibut, eel, shrimp, mackerel, rolls. I would have liked more mackerel I think, or some red snapper. #
  • I was always good at climbing trees, but particularly bad at getting down! Fear of heights made me ask for a ladder a couple of times… #
  • Tomorrow I am shooting the TV interview. Hopefully I won't forget words when I speak, as it usually happens (in both english and greek)… #
  • Listening to "5th Avenue" by Dustin Shey. Nice atmosphere in the song. #
  • Reused my old iPod Mini as my indie mp3 player, and I use Songbird to sync these files rather than iTunes (I'd need more than 1 libraries). #
  • Cooked some carbonara today. We might have sushi tonight though… #
  • And apparently, I have some type-2 diabetes too — in addition to all my other health problems. #

The Top-10 MUST FIX features for Vegas

Sony Vegas is the editor of my choice, but it’s far from perfect. In fact, depending on what kind of footage you are throwing at it, it might even be the worst tool for the job. This is my top-10 must-fix feature requests that I would like Sony to take care of. While this is “my” list, it is very much influenced by questions and bug reports users online are over-flowing Vegas forums with. In order:

1. MP4/MOV support
MPEG4 footage from digicams and digirecorders (MPEG4-SP and MPEG4-AVC) is a no-go with Vegas. We are talking about super-slow previewing, and crashes right from the minute you populate the project media, or randomly later when you edit. Especially when using KODAK mpeg4-SP footage from their digicams, and you change the window focus away from Vegas, the media are “going offline”, and they don’t ever come back to life (or it takes some ridiculously long time to do). Curiously, AVCHD support is not bad at all on Vegas, but that’s because it’s using internally an optimized decoder for it, while for MP4/MOV it’s using the stock Quicktime or MainConcept decoders that Vegas doesn’t like working with very much. Given that even cheap digicams now do HD (and with good quality too), more and more users are throwing away their home camcorders and go digicam-only. It affects more users than Sony would be comfortable to admit (and don’t let me start in the whole Canon 5D video subculture that’s now very strong). It’s their loss, since these users will have to eventually shop for another editor that handles these formats better.

2. SonyAVC encoder crashes
This is a much reported issue: the SonyAVC encoder crashing reproducibly when exporting in higher 1080i/1080p resolutions. Unfortunately, no fix has been released for it, over a year after it was first reported repeatedly. This is poor support, right there. I stumble on it so often on my own installation and on online forums that I can’t hold back my anger any longer for this bug not getting fixed.

3. No intermediate codec
Vegas ships right now with no serious intermediate codec in its ranks. One has to realistically pony up $500 to buy Cineform NeoHD to be able to export to that codec via Vegas. Unfortunately, using free intermediate codecs, like Huffyuv and Lagarith, they suck compared to Cineform; while Vegas is simply not optimized for the Avid’s freeware DNxHD codec. All these free codecs playback at 5-7 fps, while Cineform is real time. Obviously, this is a case where Sony should pay up for a new engineer to come and optimize DNxHD (and maybe do a deal with AVID too). I don’t hold my breath though.

4. Defaults: Disable Resampling and Interpolation deinterlacing
Defaults matter. This is true for any piece of software. 99% of Vegas’ users’ footage sucks quality-wise because they use the defaults: resampling and blend fields. Both these options create such big amount of ghosting, that it’s not even funny. Blend fields creates ghosting every time there’s movement in the frame (which is all the time for normal users who usually are handheld), and resampling kicks in every time a user slow-motion’s his footage, or he drops his 30p digicam footage on an NTSC timeline. Sony must change these defaults to catter for these users, and let the professionals (who are fewer in number) change these if they have to. At least the pros would supposedly know what to do.

5. Project Properties Wizard
When you start a new project on Platinum, you get this retarted dialog of “how you would like to export”, and then it configures your project properties according to your exporting needs rather than the source footage’s properties. I have extensively explained here why this is the worst idea EVER.

6. Proxy editing
With support for RED’s footage, and even the very demanding Canon 5D format, Sony might need to work in implementing proxy editing. Right now there is a proxy script, but it only works in the PRO version of Vegas, while my own method that works with both Vegas versions, is a bit too complex for most people to put it around their heads.

7. Stabilization plugin
Come on now. Even iMovie got one of these! People just shoot handheld crap all the time. This is a must-have. Buying the third party Boris-FX stabilization plugin for $200 is something a family man (who is the person most in need for it) would never do. This must be part of the default Vegas package.

8. Up to 16x speed, and speed control
Currently, you can only slow-mo or speed up your footage up to 4x. That’s just not enough for me in many cases. In the Pro version there are Velocity Envelopes that allow you to go faster/slower than 4x, but that’s just not precise handling. Then, there’s the whole controling of the speed issue: it doesn’t interpolate interlaced footage like After Effects does to make 60p out of 60i and create smoother slow-mo. Neither it let’s you specify speed rate in percentages (so you can’t shoot a sped-up music video in 30p NTSC and slow-it down at 25p PAL — right now, you have to shoot 30p, slow it down to 24p, and then use a convoluted tutorial to re-time it to 25p, a hot mess).

9. Support for Adobe Bridge
The truth is, Vegas is an editing app, not an effects one. A common problem professionals have is to which format to export from Vegas to After Effects. It would be easier if Vegas was to somehow support Adobe Bridge, so sending and receiving footage from AE is easier. I personally have AE installed, and I can’t get bothered with it just because integration between the two apps is not good. Too much of a pain. And for those who want to get bothered, they might even leave Vegas for Premiere. There’s money in this feature: by keeping your existing pros on your side.

10. DirectShow support
Vegas only has support for encoders/decoders that use the ancient “Video for Windows” standard, rather than the newer “DirectShow” one. Premiere and most other video editors support both. Without supporting DirectShow you can’t use for example, the accelerated CoreAVC decoder, or any hardware-assisted h.264 encoders, or other devices and codecs that use the newer protocol. This terribly limits Vegas to only support older codecs that happen to be installed on the system, and only those who work under the “AVI” world.

*. Joker, wild card: Per-color vector plugin
We need a powerful color grading plugin that let’s you do everything this plugin does. Unfortunately, while this plugin almost does a lot of what’s needed for serious color grading (full control over the rainbow colors), it’s unstable as hell. Even the new version of that plugin, from the same developer, is even more unstable. We need something like it, officially. Especially since Red Giant Software doesn’t care porting their Colorista app on Vegas, this is one more reason to put an engineer working on that. Magic Bullet doesn’t give you control on what I am describing btw.

In conclusion, there’s all the clean up that needs to be done, e.g. fix DVD-import A/V sync issues, DivX/XViD bug fixes with the XViD decoder, more options on the media manager (e.g. visual cues if a clip is already used in the timeline or not), DVDs templates now exporting in lower field only, streaming support in AVC/MainConcept h.264 encoders, VBR encoding in SonyAVC, AVCHD progressive/24p/bitrate editable exporting options, easier re-timing of footage, importing AVCHD elementary streams, more pulldown removal/addition support (e.g. PF24), optimized WMV editing, etc etc. But the above 10 are the most important ones, and the top-5 are what most users would hit before you can even say “huh?”

Michael Jackson: Debt is his real legacy

Everyone is busy with eulogies these days about this guy. What a true artist he was, how popular, what a glorious career, what an icon.

My ass.

I don’t give a monkey if this guy released Thriller, or popularized the moonwalk. And yes, I am super-familiar with his career, since I was a huge fan of his in the ’80s and early ’90s. Everyone who knew me during high school can attest to that. Even saw him live once, at a concert in Germany (and made a big fuss about it to my then-fiance to go see MJ live). Many times I had fought with my father for the TV’s remote control for me wanting to watch.

What concerns me instead is his reported $200-$400 million debt he leaves behind. That’s what’s bugging me. His current estate and future sales will pay for part of this debt, but it won’t be enough to pay it all back. Naturally, his children — and their children — will have to work all their life to payback their father’s careless overspending. Unless MJ’s girlfriend, Tinkerbell, allows for a miracle to happen, these children will never be free. Update: Reader Steve says in the comments that in the US the kids won’t be held responsible paying off that debt. Let’s hope that’s how it’s going to play out.

Some will say “separate the man from his art”, but in this case, the man has more impact to me than his art. I am sorry to say, but this debt is the only “legacy” I see Jackson leaving behind. Its effects on his children are so powerful in my mind, that overshadows everything else he accomplished in his life and career. I can’t stand listening to his music anymore because of the person he became (and no, I don’t even count the pederasty allegations). He let himself to get hooked on drugs, became careless about his spending, and on top of all that, he wanted children! What for? As new puppies?

The usual argument against all this is “but he had a hard star-child life”. Well, that’s all bullshit. He had TWENTY+ years to SORT OUT his psychological problems. Thank God, during the ’80s he had enough money to employ top-shrinks to help him out. So putting that “child star” argument over and over, is weak after a few years. He has absolutely no excuse. Neither he, or his close family for not reporting his addiction/psycho problems to the police to not allow him to take custody of his children (that’s what responsible people should do, even if they end up alienating themselves). Then again, after watching this, I don’t believe that anyone in his “family” ever gave a shit about MJ.

So let him rot in hell. Spare me the eulogies that the internet and TV is full of (I can’t even escape iTunes/Amazon’s top-10 lists). My only hope is for a way out, for his children.

Daily Twitter Update for 2009-06-28


Just a small video of Hippocampii (seahorses) I shot at the Monterey Bay Aquarium yesterday. Shot with a Canon SX200 IS digicam, handheld. I had to throw away quite a few shots since the camera doesn’t do well in low light conditions. Also, focusing close was an exercise in patience. At the end, I had to transcode to Cineform to edit too (otherwise Vegas would crash with so many MOV h.264 files thrown at it). Other than that, the camera offered more image options and better quality than other digicams we had with us (a Panasonic TZ5). HD version and .mp4 HD download here.

Daily Twitter Update for 2009-06-27

  • RT Mythbuster's Adam @donttrythis I believe the RIAA to be a bunch of venal idiots. I don't think much of the MPAA either for that matter. #
  • Thank you @marilynroxie for the @MalbecTheBand mention on your music article: #
  • @slewis Just make sure the eggs are not off date. in reply to slewis #
  • @slewis Yes, if it's mixed with other things, it's ok. in reply to slewis #
  • My Acer Aspire One's battery is dead. Li-ion batteries die if you completely discharge them (I hadn't use that laptop for 6 months you see). #
  • Maybe I'd do another clafoutis tonight again… I am addicted to that, and sushi. I need rehab. #
  • Washing dishes and clothes, cooking roasted chicken tonight. Maybe a movie afterward. #
  • "UK is Europe's largest cocaine market – with more than one million regular users", says UN. This is just crazy. Where are the family values #
  • @Speakerbomb Enjoying the country side I take? in reply to Speakerbomb #
  • @thomholwerda This is why I moved to the OSNews server, because of shit like that going on all the time at Blogsome. in reply to thomholwerda #
  • Whoa! I just learned that my brother in law's gf's father had the French long jump record and competed in the Olympics! I will ask for info. #
  • All it takes is the death of a celebrity to calm down political discussion on Twitter and elsewhere. How easily can people be manipulated. #
  • @JHusker Yeah, I meant the HV40 earlier, not the HV20. Go for the HV40, yeah. in reply to JHusker #
  • @JHusker Yeah, and HV20 has more hardware features, including a FULL advanced shoe. Also, it has TRUE 24p, unlike HF-S100 that has PF24. in reply to JHusker #
  • @TimCh3st3r Are the mp3 downloads featured on NME legal? I would like to link a few, you see. #
  • Twitter fixed their bottleneck with the searches, which had Twitter crashing almost daily. It now indeed feels faster. #

Daily Twitter Update for 2009-06-26

  • @mjeppsen Whoever directed that video doesn't know what he's doing. He could have get rid of the video 30p look by shooting it sped up. in reply to mjeppsen #
  • Bat for Lashes == Enya marrying Mike Oldfield. Great music. #
  • WOW! Twitter REMOVED the hot list on the sidebar and now twitter FLIES. It seems that their usual bottleneck/crashes is these topics queries #
  • @indiequick I might have come over if my husband wasn't on vacations. I would bring some Clafoutis. Google it. 😉 in reply to indiequick #
  • @indierockgirl I know it takes more time to do it this way, but it's better for the band, and for the legality/professionalism of your site. in reply to indierockgirl #
  • @indierockgirl Your intentions are good. But stick to the official "1 free mp3 per album", and ask for one if they don't have one yet. in reply to indierockgirl #
  • I saw Michael Jackson live in Germany, in August of 1992. It was a good show, but he was late an hour, because there was a tiny bit of rain. #
  • @Wes_Goodlife That's some good work you did there. Was it shot on 60i? in reply to Wes_Goodlife #
  • @thomholwerda He hasn't written anything in over 10 years. The guy had lost the plot long ago. It was time for him to get some peace. #
  • Man, that's life. I am drinking some strawberry-banana smoothie I just prepared, and listening to Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower". #
  • @vwadhwani Apparently he did die btw… in reply to vwadhwani #
  • @vwadhwani Sounds like a plan. 🙂 in reply to vwadhwani #
  • @indiequick I was crazy in love with MJ in the '80s. Then, he lost the plot completely, and I started loathing him. in reply to indiequick #
  • @JHusker If you need all its hardware features, go for the HV40. If you only care about visual quality and not addons, buy the HF-S100. in reply to JHusker #
  • @vwadhwani Oh, you might haven't heard… he supposedly had a cardiac arrest. in reply to vwadhwani #
  • I had this unsettling dream last night where this middle-aged married man was glued to me and my gf (we were teens in my dream). Sleazy! #
  • @vwadhwani I said "if". Don't put words in my mouth. Only sushi. in reply to vwadhwani #
  • If Michael Jackson is dead, I just hope all that debt his careless life accumulated won't pass on to his children. #
  • I need half-star increments on my iTunes ratings… Most of the songs I like are really 4.5/5 instead of 5/5 or 4/5. #
  • I was modded down on Gizmodo for saying "any male model version?" on their news story about the soft-core porn iPhone app! Sexist moders! #
  • @indierockgirl If you pick a random song to upload, and another blog site picks another one from the same album, no reason to buy the album! in reply to indierockgirl #
  • @indierockgirl I am not the RIAA, I am just an indie gal, like you. But I believe that you might be doing more harm than good to bands. in reply to indierockgirl #
  • @indierockgirl If it's nothing mentioned in the PRs about redistribution of mp3s, then possibly you should not post them, or get permission. in reply to indierockgirl #
  • @Wes_Goodlife Sure, send me a URL. in reply to Wes_Goodlife #
  • @guycochran Your uplifting Twitter picture makes me smile, no matter how grumpy I naturally am. 🙂 #
  • That video was my first music video, and it shows… 🙁 #
  • So, I will be interviewed by a music TV show next week for my work on this video: Not my greatest work though. 🙁 #
  • I am just being asked to get interviewed on a TV show (regarding filmmaking). I am feeling a bit uneasy about this. I have no face for TV. #
  • @indierockgirl Yes, but they only usually give re-distribution rights to big sites. And what about the rest of the cases? in reply to indierockgirl #
  • @mikesum32 Sushi, mate, sushi! in reply to mikesum32 #
  • @indierockgirl Do you always have permission from the artist/label to upload these mp3s at the site? in reply to indierockgirl #
  • 1 of the only 3 good songs on the new Green Day album: Even their [secret] 4th member appears in it! #
  • Damn it, our toilet is broken again. That's the 3rd or 4th time since 2002 in this home. #

How to get rid of idiots on IM, Part III

Chatter: salut
Eugenia: yes?
Chatter: how are you?
Eugenia: busy, something I can help you with?
Chatter: can i speak with you?
Eugenia: about what?
Chatter: about you
Chatter: my name is […] and you?
Eugenia: I am Busy, but friends call me Grumpy
Chatter: …

Daily Twitter Update for 2009-06-25