Both Sides Now

I’m still experimenting with videoblogging, so I thought I’d try and “push the envelope” and make one that’s not just a 4×3 (or even 16×9) box. But I wanted to see if I could make it an actual advantage, rather than just a gimmick.

I have always been inpressed with the way that “dltq.vlog” tiles large and small 4×3 video panels to make a single multi-frame 16×9 video, so I thought I’d have a go. But just to copy “dltq”‘s approach would be a bit dull, so instead I have glued together two 320×240 4×3 videos side by side to make a 640x24o wide “letterbox”. The two videos I stuck together? The same fragment of journey, but with one camera looking toward me, and the other looking where I’m looking. I think it’s an interesting effect.

Editing it was actually relatively painless – I’ve got an old-ish version of Adobe After Effects (4.1) on my PC which is quite capable of tricks like this. The major problem was format conversion. This version of AE dates from before things like WMV and ASF format and mpeg4 video streams. On the other hand it does let me produce a Quicktime movie using a sorenson codec (which is not too huge) without buying Quicktime Pro.

The video is enclosed, or you can get it direct from here (QT 10.9 MB).

As always, I really welcome comments or replies.

Talking about Quicktime

Here’s another test piece, this time shot with a Sony DCR PC107E DV camcorder two or three days ago, then rerendered as a 320×240 WMV using the copy of Arcsoft ShowBiz (primarily a DVD ripper, but has some reasonable basic editing abilities too) that came with the little gadget I bought a few days ago.

The file is enclosed, or you can get it direct from here

I used ShowBiz because it offers Quicktime output. However, it doesn’t seem to support any sensible codecs. I couldn’t make a MOV file smaller than about 20MB for this clip, but asking the same software to produce WMV spat out this one, at roughly 1.8MB.

In the post, I ramble about some problems I have been having with Quicktime. After a bit more experimentation, it seems to be mainly a CPU horsepower issue. My regular desktop (with 2 x 1GHz pentium 3 chips in it) is obviously not up to the task of playing a quicktime movie, even though it plays other formats fine. When I took both my home-produced quicktime files and some others over to a 3GHz pentium 4 laptop, they played fine.

I’m not sure that letting the sound and visuals get so wildly out of sync is a particularly good approach to coping with underpowered hardware, though …

more like a videoblog

Among other jobs, I work part time as a lecturer at Suffolk College in Ipswich. Every day I walk to and from the college. It’s a brisk 15 minute walk. This video shows a bit of my journey home, around the back of the college art block and across a small car parking area. I hope you can hear the sounds of birdsong and children playing on this delightful spring day, and see the blossom on the trees behind me.

In practice, of course, this was mainly to see if I could do the sort of “walking shot” that so many videobloggers love. I think it comes out pretty well, even if I couldn’t think of anything to say.

The video is attached as an enclosure, or you can get it direct from here (WMV, 1.1MB)

is this a videoblog in a box?

I’m really excited. I ordered a new gadget from an on-line store, and finally got it today. Let’s just say I’m really impressed. I’ll write a more detailled review with links and stuff later, but first I want to try and post some video from it with no editing or conversion, to see if people can view it “as is”. To record this, I simply rolled the camera lens around to point at me, selected “camcorder” mode and pressed the go button. The device supports USB mass storage, so I just plugged it in and uploaded straight to web.

It’s as an enclosure, but you can also get the file direct. Please somebody tell me you can see and hear this …

Fuji 2600Z movie compressed with 3ivx

Following some discussion on the videoblogging mailing list, I have re-rendered the example from the previous post using the 3ivx codec at a max quality of 75%. This gives a drastically reduced file size, which seems a good idea to me!

Can anyone see this one?

Anyone got any suggestions for codecs, settings or media formats that might be a better choice?

test of video from Fuji 2600Z camera

In with all the tests I’m doing at the moment, I thought I’d try some video from my Fuji 2600Z digital camera. It has a built-in 20 second silent video mode, which is not much good if I want to record narration or location sound, but can get some visuals.

It seems to record with a strange codec that will play in several media players but not load into many of the video editors I tried it with. Eventually I did this little edit using the ridiculously cheap Cosmi video editor that I bought for £2.99 (about $5) from Staples. It doesn’t offer much by the way of output format controls, so I don’t really know how well anyone else will be able to see this.

On my machine it plays in Windows Media Player, Zoom Player, RealPlayer, PowerDVD, Media Player Classic and VirtualDub, but not in the usually reliable VLC player.

I’d really appreciate some feedback on how well (if!) this has worked.

I’ve tried to add the file as an enclosure. If that fails, get it here