Monthly Archive for September, 2005

60 hours and a pre-wedding iMovie

A few friends of mine and I ‘volunteered’ to put together a movie for a couple of friends of ours that are getting married this weekend. I got roped in because I’m the one that owns a Macintosh, which means I have iMovie and iDVD

The goal: a 10-20 minute video that gives the couple’s friends the opportunity to share something about the couple with the audience, show a bunch of photos from the couple’s history, with a little music running in the background.

So, we set out a month of more ago with the camera, and my two friends started video taping. They shot around 3 hours of footage. This was a bad start… I knew it, but figured we’d be able to work with it.

One thing I’ve learned about making movies over the past 10-12 months (that’s how long I’ve been making movies using the Macs in the house) is that shorter is always better. If you can make a movie short and sweet, everyone loves it. If it’s long, it always seems to drag on, because the subject gets a little old. It happens…

This past Sunday, we started editing down the 3 hours of footage.

The first few “interviews” were horrible… the interviewees just rambled and rambled, and they didn’t speak up enough to make it easy to hear them. This is partially due to the fact that the two folks that worked the camera for us had never edited a video, and thus they didn’t know that the subject in the frame needed to speak up, and for editing ease, needed to give us good, sharp soundbites. The last few interviews were much better… concise and to the point. I also noticed that the first few interviews were all women. The last few were men. I’ll let you make the connection between rambling vs. not rambling and the sexes.

By Monday, we had it edited down to 45 minutes worth of sound bites/video snippets… Then I used iMovies “Extract Audio” feature on all of the video clips at once. Bad idea!

iMovie on a 2GHz iMac doesn’t like converting all of that audio at once, and it shit on us after the conversion process… so we lost all the work we’d done on the editing side up to that point.

Luckily, I’d created a backup on the original movie data. On Tuesday, we edited again, and were much better at it, because we knew what we were looking for in that 3 hours of footage. It still took a little while to edit though… about 2.5 hours this time. Then we got the footage in order, and called it a night.

On Wednesday, we decided to start putting the pictures with the video clips and to just make it work. After 4 hours of work, we had a finished product that was 20 minutes long, and looked pretty good.

Thursday night, we added the music and some final title screens and transitions… then I adjusted the volume levels of some of the quieter video segments and the music… and I made a DVD using iDVD, and burned a copy.

I watched it at 10:00 p.m. or so, and those low level video segments were still too quiet to be heard on the TV after I made a DVD out of the video… so I re-edited the movie to get rid of the background music completely, and brought the levels way up for the quiet video segments. I called it a night around 11:30 p.m.

The video is done. I personally spent around 18-20 hours working on this thing. My two friends that shot the video and helped edit it spent at least that long as well. 60 man hours, a lot of money on gas, and a few more grey hairs… that’s the cost of this movie. Finally done.

We should have charged for this work.

Lessons:

  1. iMovie is a great tool, it handled 3 hours of video footage editing just fine… It was a bit underpowered for the things we wanted to do with this video, but it did the job we needed it to do just fine. I should have done this in Final Cut Pro, but I wasn’t going to spend the money on it yet.
  2. iDVD rocks! iDVD will put a very professional look on your DVD and is worth paying for all on its own.
  3. Editing 3 hours of video footage down to 20 minutes worth of good stuff ain’t fun. Next time, spend a lot more time getting the people in the movie to be better video subjects.
  4. Better Together by Jack Johnson on In Beetween Dreams is a great song for a wedding.
  5. If you ask your friends to make a movie for you, make sure you know what you’re asking for… it’s a lot more work than anyone that hasn’t made a movie before might think… and you get what you pay for.
  6. The quality of your movie really comes down to the quality of the source material you have to work with. If you have crappy source material, no amount of technology can make it better. If you’re shooting the footage yourself and can direct the actors, focus them on sound-bites and make them speak up if they aren’t right in front of the camera.
  7. I might have to invest in a microphone and light setup for the DV camera.

Overall the process was a great learning experience, and we’ve created a great movie… I’d put it online for you all to watch, but I’m not that proud of it and don’t want to pay the hosting/bandwidth bill for a 20 minute movie. If you want to watch it, contact me and I’ll tell you where to send that $5 check to cover burning it and shipping the DVD.

Janicek nano

If any of you out there are iPod nano fans, you’ve gotta go check out my buddy Josh’s news:

Go to: http://www.janicek.com/

You’re gonna love it.

Congrats Josh and Elise!

Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips in Windows XP

HOW TO: Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips in Windows XP – quite possibly the most useful tip a Windows user could ever find.

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teh suck

Unit testing is teh suck, Urr.

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How to Hire Like a Start Up

How to Hire Like a Start Up

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Introversion

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

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Fruit

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? - Frank Scully

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Amazon ratings and recommendations

I visited Amazon.com today, to buy a book that a colleague recommended to me, and while there, I figured I’d surf around a bit inside Amazon and see if there was anything else I should buy, so I clicked on the “John’s Store” tab at the top of the page.

I then looked at “new items” that Amazon was recommending to me, and I saw this:

Notice that Amazon is recommending this movie based on the fact that I own Mac OS X 10.4?

What’s up with that? lol…

Shitty Ditty

Gruber does it again (brings a smile to my face) with his witty analysis of the Dell DJ Ditty

14. Sit back and recall, with tremendously smug satisfaction, a decade’s worth of tech industry punditry holding that superior design would never get Apple anywhere, and that Apple should instead, you know, be more like Dell.

Some stuff is just easier bought offline

I bought a new Rainbird sprinkler system controller a few weeks ago, and I blew the fuse that came with it during installation… but luckily, it came with a spare. So, I used the spare after I got it installed.

Now, two-three weeks later, I came home after a weekend trip out of town, and the fuse is blown.

So, I figure I’ll look them up on Google and just order a set of 5, and be done with it (instead of taking the time this weekend to research where the short is and fix it properly, of course)…

Ever try looking for a “#3AG 0.5 AMP” fuse online?

This is what the sprinkler controller calls for… and I need to buy 5.

So, I just spent 15-20 minutes online, looking for a place that sells them.

I found plenty of fuse distributors that’ll sell me all sorts of fuses if I’ll buy lots of 100 or 1,000, but I can’t find any retailers that sell these fuses online, through Google. Amazon doesn’t seem to sell them either. I found a few places that’ll let me order them via a fax order form… I also found a place that seems to have what I want to buy, but doesn’t have a photo of the item that I can look at, so I’m not sure that I’d be buying the right thing… and I don’t want to spend this money twice.

So, I think I’ll check at the local grocery store tonight to see if they have them, and if they don’t, I’ll head to Home Depot, and then an auto parts store, in that order.

Some things are still better bought offline. At least I know one of those three stores will have what I’m looking for.

update: found what I needed this morning at my local RadioShack… and the $2 purchase came with some free advice from the guy behind the counter… again, some things are easier bought offline.

Textpander

A recommendation for Textpander – there are lots of little utilities like this for the Macintosh, but it’s nice to see such a well written recommendation.

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Enter the Dell 2405FPW

Enter the Dell 2405FPW – looks like a really nice 24″ LCD monitor… with Dell pricing… I might have to look into this one…

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Two in One Day?

Delta and Northwest file for bankruptcy. Two in one day? This won’t be good for the markets tomorrow…

What do you know about where you live?

My buddy Josh is hilarious. If you’re up for an early morning laugh, read his lastest post: I don’t know Jack about where I live. Too damned funny… thanks bud.

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Ten Selling Tips

Ten Great Selling Tips

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Reality Distortion Field

Great story: Reality Distortion Field

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Customer Expectations

Jay Small writes about how hard it can be to exceed customer expectations when you’re trying to reset them.

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iTunes 5 vs. Brushed Metal humor

The iTunes 5 Announcement From the Perspective of an Anthropomorphized Brushed Metal User Interface Theme – Bwahahaha! Too damned funny. Great job Gruber!

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iPod Cemetery

the iPod Family Cemetery from engadget.

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Entrepreneurship and Kool-Aid

Entrepreneurship: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

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iTunes 5 interface

Michael Tsai on iTunes 5 interface – a good summary read of all of the comments floating around out there on the new iTunes 5 interface…

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Sexy “Free” OS X Apps

Sexy “Free” OS X Apps

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Black or White?

The biggest challenge I see facing my future purchase of an iPod nano?

Should I get a Black one or a White one?

Ugh… the decisions in life that make it so tough.

Who is connected to my Airport Base Station?

Have you ever asked yourself the question “Who is connected to my Airport Base Station?”

If so, then you should download the Airport Management Utility. This tool kicks ass.

I don’t know why Apple doesn’t advertiser the existence of this software more than it does… the only mention I could find of this software on their website was on this “On Campus” page in the Airport Extreme section of their site.

Maybe it’s mentioned somewhere else, but since the only reason I was looking for it was because I was getting horribly slow connections from my Cable internet connection, which is run through my Airport network… and I couldn’t spend all damned day looking for software on a 0.1 KB/sec connection.

Mint

Mint – php/mysql based analytics? gotta check this one out.

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Harnessing your interstitial time

Harnessing your interstitial time – spot on observations and tips for getting things done more effectively and efficiently when life throws a monkey wrench into your plans.

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Keeping Track of Your Prospective Customers

Keeping Track of Your Prospective Customers – good sales approach…. it’s how I work.

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Photon

Photon – a cool little iPhoto plugin that helps you manage weblog based photo galleries from iPhoto.

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Google Purge

Google Purge – coming soon. LOL!

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Cannot import vCalendar file.

WTF?

I downloaded a vCalendar file from the Hilton website onto my Powerbook, after booking a hotel room.

I then emailed the vCal file to my WindowsXP machine. I saved the file to my desktop, then doubleclicked it to open it in Outlook and save it. I got this error message:

Cannot import vCalendar file errort message

Here’s the transcript of the discussion I had with my WindowsXP box:

self: Hmmm…
self: So, I can’t import the file. Okay.
WindowsXP: “… recurring Lunar appointment …”
self: What is that?
WindowsXP: “To avoid this error, set the appointment option to Gregorian instead of Lunar.”
self: Ok, I’ll do that (why am I wasting my time with this crap?) Let’s click the “More information…” link to see if we can find a way to do that in Windows.

So, I click the link.

And after about 2 minutes, I get this error:

Can't find watson.microsoft.com.

WTF?

Why can’t a Windows error message contain a link that works?

So, I go to Hilton.com, check my reservation and download the vCalendar file again straight into Outlook from there. I don’t have time to troubleshoot this crap.

That’s the anti-thesis of the Macintosh “It just works” mantra.

Notational Velocity

Notational Velocity is an application that stores and retrieves notes.” Enough said. Cool software, very simple, and super easy to use.

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Anger

“Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—this is not easy.”
– Aristotle

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DaddyTypes

DaddyTypes – the weblog for new dads.

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the Pocketmod

This is the coolest way to carry a notecard in your pocket that’s unobtrusive, but totally useful (more useful than just a handful of business cards). If you need to carry a quick method for taking notes with you at all times, get a pocketmod

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Dreamhost Rocks! New Sale

I can’t say this enough. Dreamhost Rocks!

If you’re looking for a new shared hosting plan, you really ought to check out Dreamhost.

They just started a new sale this month:

From: [email protected]
Subject: [Announcement] New! All Shared Hosting Disk Space Doubled!
Date: September 1, 2005 4:26:34 AM CDT
To: John Engler

Hey Happy DreamHost Disk Hogs!

Starting Monday we began a new sale.. double (the starting) disk space on
all shared hosting accounts. As we’ve been known to do, we’ve also
applied this to all existing shared hosting customers as well!

Keep in mind your overall disk quota total may not quite double, because
of any additional weekly growth your plan may have undergone since you’ve
signed on. BUT, we’ve also doubled the weekly growth rate on all active
shared hosting plans to the following:

Level 1: 40MB/week
Level 2: 80MB/week
Level 3: 120MB/week
Level 4: 160MB/week

There is no action for you to take to get this increase… everything’s
already happened.

I’m not going to detail all of the stuff they offer with each plan, but I’d highly encourage you to check their sale our. Their “one-click installs” of some super useful software alone make it a really great hosting package. I mean where else can you buy a hosting plan for $8 a month, and get up and running within about 15 minutes of starting your hosting plan?

Their super easy to understand and use account control panel is also pretty damned spiffy.

They also pay referral fees for anyone that says you referred them when they sign up (yes, if you follow these links you’ll credit me with the referral). But that’s not the only reason I’m singing their praises… my diskspace with them is going up by 200MBs/week (I have two plans with them). That’s reason enough to sing their praises. Thank you Dreamhost.

Check ‘em out and tell them I sent you ;).

Command Key

The story of how we got the unusual symbol used for the menu command key in the Mac OS.

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Being Poor

Being Poor – wow.

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know that kid? iGuy from Speck

In case you were wondering what Jack, my son, looks like: Check out this review of the iGuy from Speck. Misha Sakellaropoulo is a buddy of mine, and he let Jack play with it a little last weekend when they were down… and lo and behold, Jack made it into the review. Expect Jack’s agent to send you a modeling bill, Misha.

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new ipods

ThinkSecret has the scoop on the new iPods and the iTunes phone. I’d trust their report if I were a betting man… they’ve been right too many times in the past to doubt them.

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How To Work For An Idiot

How To Work For An Idiot – luckily I’ve got a great boss now, but this is just too good to read… brings back memories ;)

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Raising Your Odds Selling To Companies

Raising Your Odds Selling To Companies – Great advice.

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Inanimate Genders

Everything has a gender – ha!

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Backpack feedback

Here is some feedback on Backpack which looks like something I should check out.

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