Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hi-Def Woes and A Trip to the Theatre

I seem to have spent my last week of freedom (before going back to full-time work), endlessly waiting for my PC to finish rendering video - only to have it invariably fail after 8 or 9 hours at the '99% complete' mark. 'Frustrating' isn't the word!

The net result (no pun intended) is that The Daily.NET Show is now 'on ice' until probably October/November 2008 when I can afford the hardware needed to dramatically improve rendering times so that getting the show out on a daily basis while holding down a full-time job is at all feasible. I seriously underestimated the time needed for video rendering, uploading and subsequent server-side compressing in my original forecasts.

In the meantime the different user group videos are serving as a good way of getting more familiar with the camera and editing software (four videos from the Silverlight UK User Group have been posted here). There are a lot of issues around rendering hi-def video, which is proving to be far more of a 'bleeding edge' issue for most of the software I use (Digital Juice's Juicer 3 product and Sony's Vegas Pro if we're being specific) than I'd expected this far on in the life-cycle of the respective products, quite aside from the hardware issues I've got.

Next up on the user group video coverage front is DDD Ireland in a couple of weeks time. I'm looking forward to it as it will give me an opportunity to concentrate on being 'behind the camera' instead of worrying endless about how 'wooden' I am in front of it!

Online friends have argued that hi-def on the web isn't there yet, and doesn't have that much demand anyway, so why am I going that route (and in particular using one of the 'true' hi-def formats XDCam rather than that used in the very small consumer cameras)? In fact there are several good hi-def shows already out there, albeit produced by folks for whom it's a full-time job, often with several staff to help. I'm convinced that in a couple of years time hi-def will be 'the norm' and the 'bleeding edge' pain is necessary, if only to get a head start on the immense learning curve. There are plenty of spotty youths doing YouTube video's already, and I prefer to try and get something closer to broadcast quality, although having to serve as reviewer, presenter, cameraman, editor and web master all at the same time is making progress slow!

That being said, the first weekly video podcast of The Shiny Discs Show that I've produced is NOT hi-def. The problems (which seem to be down to the fact the 28 minute running time of the 'expanded' first show takes me over the 1GB limit) mean that hi-def just wasn't an option this week. Hopefully next week's show, being shorter, will not prove to be such a problem. You can watch the first show now using the Shiny Discs link above. It's a disappointment with so many problems (truncated ending, too long, features out-of-focus talking head shots etc etc), but it's a start and things can (hopefully!) only improve from hereonin. Given how problematic this first show has been it will be interesting to see how feasible producing a weekly video podcast on top of holding down a full-time job proves to be!

I start a new 6 month contract with Intelligent Environments tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to catching up with folks and finding out what's been happening in the year I've been working elsewhere.

Yesterday I went to see an old 1920's Noel Coward play, The Vortex at the Apollo in Shaftesbury Avenue. Felicity Kendall leading a strong cast (including the young girl - Cordelia? - from the TV series Brideshead Revisited, a woman we all recognised from Doctor Who - The Slitheen head honcho? - and a bunch of others). It was a good production, with excellent staging and acting throughout, although the play itself did feel a bit dated. Recommended, especially at the cost available using the Official Half Price Ticket Stand in Leicester Square, which is where we got our tickets. Word of warning: all those stores near the tube station displaying red LED displays saying 'Official Half-Price tickets' are NOT the place to buy tickets - they're rip-off touts, albeit officially licensed. You need the clearly identifiable stone building down from the Odeon in the square itself to avoid getting ripped off.

And in an amusing footnote to the whole 'travel across London to see a 5-minute extract from a film' saga that I blogged about a few weeks ago, next Sunday (thanks to a friend who I won't name as I don't want anybody to get into trouble on my account) I'm going to see Speed Racer. It seems the whole film is being previewed after all. It'll be interesting to see if the film is as bad as it sounded it was going to be, or whether the full screenings now mean that Warners have more confidence in the final results. No doubt I'll be posting a short review next weekend, either way ;-)

And time to mention (as if I didn't have enough distractions already) that you can follow me on Twitter, which suddenly over the last two weeks has taken off big time (I'm getting endless spammers suddenly 'following' me!) Personal/work -related stuff is under the Twitter 'irascian' account, one-line news/reviews about shiny discs are under the Twitter 'shinydiscs' account.


Francis said...

Welcome back - see you tomorrow then!

Ian said...

Thanks Francis. Had you already been told or was this the first you heard of it?

Francis said...

I had heard it mentioned some time back, but forgotten all about it...