April 28, 2005

Nonlinear video editors

Some day I may flesh this out. For the moment, I'll start by stating that Pinnacle Plus for Windows is easy, attractive, popular, but buggy as all heck when you've got a hundred edits going. I loved iMovie, and would probably love Final Cut Pro, but found my old iMac underpowered for real efforts (30 hours to do one video).

I can't afford the Mac right now to do either justice, and Linux editors seem to be either immature (Kino) or pretty complicated by comparison (Cinelerra), so for now, and maybe years to come, Windows XP is where I will edit movies.

After given up on Pinnacle after making one movie (liam2005q1) and ignoring the rather limited Windows Movie Maker, I broke down and bought Adobe Premiere Elements for about $100. What a great app! Elements wants a good video card so I bought a $100 Mad Dog. I also have a $50 firewire card and a DVD burner (stock PC lacked these). Otherwise Premiere runs fine on a low-end but modern PC, even my originally $400 eMachines T2958. Much fun, great response, really nice output to DVD or any of many multimedia formats.

See recent results at http://www.taplintoys.com/mm/multimedia.html.

Visitors might see new 10-15 minute videos every few months or so. I'll save them all in Windows Media format, at least until I can afford a high-end Mac and Final Cut Pro. I like wmv because (a.) most folks already have Windows Media Player, and (b.) wmv files seem to compress better than QuickTime - at least as generated by Premiere Elements, QuickTime Pro, or Cinematize.

I did try at least a dozen other permutations, including Sorenson 3 compression to QuickTime and several mpeg-2 and mpeg-4 options, but if I want to keep both file sizes and output quality reasonable, wmv seems to be a best bet.

Incidentally, getting video off an existing DVD can be very difficult without Cinematize. This app converts DVD files back into something editable, like QuickTime, so you can re-edit what you did long ago. This is how I am now planning to now convert 2003 and 2004 videos into wmv files even though I have rebuilt the PC and lost all original digital content except the DVDs.

What do you think? Constructive criticism of the movies or ideas is welcome.

Posted by tapli005 at 11:17 AM

April 22, 2005

Games I have enjoyed

My new boss, Peter, mentioned a few months ago that he has enjoyed Half-Life in the past, so I gave it a whirl, the original version from a few years back. What a great and addictive first-person shooter (FPS)! I want version 2, but it's still around $50 and I don't care to pay that much for a game (yet).

I don't know whether playing FPS games like Quake and Doom will have a nasty effect on my soul or behavior, but by all accounts I seem to remain a pretty non-violent and reasonable individual. That said, an FPS is an awfully cheap and easy way to get the sort of adrenaline rush that might otherwise require talent, coordination, time and money. I could acquire most of that, but few parents have a lot of time and money to burn on personal sports or games like paintball - so I get my adrenaline fix in the basement staring at a tube.

OK, that said, other games I enjoy include Unreal (great for multiplayer), Return to Wolfenstein, and Battlefield 1942. I am about to try Tribes 2 mainly because I want to see what can be done with the Torque game development engine, which is something I intend to learn more about.

I first got hooked on playing FPS games with Quake 1 on DOS, back before I was married and all. I'd replace the game CD with Laurie Anderson's Bright Red, which makes a great background soundtrack to running around in caves shooting at monsters. Similar mood and thrills as in a good horror movie.

I also very much enjoy a good strategy game. I try to play chess with a friend once a week. Computer strategy games I like include Ages of Kings (AOK) and, though this is also more of a bash-em game, Warcraft 3. Warcraft has fairly good gameplay but is particularly impressive in its smooth programming and continuing support for Mac as well as PC users. Love Blizzard entertainment. They also make StarCraft, which is like Warcraft in space, and Diablo, which is similar but I find less engaging (less resource management).

Another computer game I once really liked, but haven't played for years, was Apache Maximum Overkill. Unlike most flying games, this one involved a slow-moving helicopter from which you could sneak up on enemies from a river bed. Great graphics for its day, playing on a 25MHz 486.

Before all this, back when I had an LC3 and 386, I played a lot of Commander Keen (by John Carmack before he wrote Quake), the original Sim City, and the best Mac game of all time IMHO - Lemmings. I loved Lemmings, back in about 1992 or so when I was in another state. I still have a copy of it somewhere. Cute, harmless fun, very kid-friendly.

What else? Kid-friendly games on our iMac include AlphaBaby for our toddler (bang on keys, see family pictures), Double 2 - a la Mah Jong, HangMan, and Solitaire. Kind of a moot point these days with so many kid games online, e.g. Elmo. Our boy doesn't get much screen time; when he does it's AlphaBaby.

Gotta go work now. What games do you like, and why?

Posted by tapli005 at 6:13 AM

Response to midwestmom22 at yahoo.com

Hey, thanks for the info! I didn't realize anyone actually read this stuff. Apologies for my having ignored it for the past, what, four months. That was really kind of midwestmom22 at yahoo.com to send a link.

Posted by tapli005 at 5:57 AM