Day: September 28, 2010

Your new video editing software blows goats, Windows.

I take back every bad thing I ever said about Windows Movie Maker.

This is the program I was using to edit videos up until today. It came already installed in my laptop. When I thought I wanted to get my hands dirtied up some more, I went out and bought Sony Vegas 9, but I’ve found it too complicated for my taste and with a learning curve I don’t have the patience for.

I want my video editing software to be powerful but dead simple, with a timeline, with the ability to trim clips and insert titles without any difficulty, with the ability to accept any file format I throw at it, and to be reliable enough not to crash all the time when I’m in the middle of working on something. For the most part, Windows Movie Maker has fit the bill for me so far. I need to work on getting rid of some rough moments when I’m cutting and trimming bits of footage, but I’ve gotten a lot better at the editing side of things in the space of a few months, and the program allows me to do most of what I want to do with the press of a button or the click of a mouse. The only issue I’ve come up against is a problem with publishing or finalizing my videos. Given the length and amount of clips involved, things will often freeze up at the last stage and it’ll take me several tries before it all works out. But as frustrating as that is, it’s a small price to pay for what is otherwise the most intuitive and hassle-free editing software I’ve worked with.

Yesterday I upgraded my operating system to Windows 7 (not a Mac user over here). Everything worked out well, and I didn’t lose any programs or files, with one exception. Windows Movie Maker was gone. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the program would only work with older versions of Windows. But hey, they made a new version of the program for someone in my position, now called Windows Live Movie Maker. I assumed it would be the same thing as before, only a little slicker-looking.

I was wrong.

Windows Live Movie Maker is the most pathetic, useless, featureless, do-nothing, can’t-possibly-justify-its-existence piece of shit ever made. They took almost every feature the earlier version of the program had and just got rid of it, adding next to nothing in its place. It might be marginally helpful if you want to make a simple photo slide show and put it up on YouTube. For anything else, it’s about as useful as Paris Hilton at a Mensa meeting.

Why on earth would you throw away 80% of what makes something somewhat worthwhile and replace it with nothing? You don’t remodel a car and say, “Well, we’ll just get rid of the steering wheel, and the seats, and the seat belts, and leave them with a cute red button they can press in the hope that having no control over where they’re going and no protection won’t result in a fatal accident. Genius!” You don’t go in for a nose job, walk out with your lower body completely amputated, and then tell your plastic surgeon you’re so happy you want to buy them dinner.

Who green lights an idea that stupid? Someone who’s never seen a red light, I guess.

The new operating system will let me use an older version of the program that’s more or less identical to the even older version I was fine with using up until it disappeared from my computer, but there’s one catch. It won’t accept MP4 files…which is most of what my videos are made up of, since that’s the format my little Flip camera spits out. So that version is useless too.

I still have Sony Vegas 9, which ACCEPTS STINKING MP4 FILES HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE FLOOR. And now that I’ve been forced to spend a bit of time with it, I’m realizing it may not be quite as difficult to navigate as I first thought. It’s not as dead-simple as what I’m used to, but there’s quite a bit of flexibility and power there, and it will probably pay off by forcing me to learn a bit more about just what I’m doing when it comes to cutting and splicing bits of video. So I guess you should expect the next progress report video to look a little bit different, at least when it comes to transitions and onscreen text.

By the look of things so far, it’s a bit tricky editing audio levels, but I’m able to at least boost the volume of the footage I shoot myself to match everything else. Normally I would have to go in the other direction and bring down the level of everything else to even things out (hence the relatively low volume of most of my videos so far). So a happy side effect of using this program now may be an increase in overall volume, at least to the point where anyone will be able to hear everything clearly regardless of what they’re working with in terms of computer speakers and sound cards.

In reading up on different video editing software, it seems there are a lot of programs out there that have issues. Some are picky with the kinds of files they accept, some are buggy, some crash at random times, some will slow down your whole computer, some don’t let you edit on a timeline (which I think is a must for any video editing program worth its salt), and some just plain suck. It looks like I made a pretty good choice after all with the program I paid for, because from what I’ve read it’s one of the few that doesn’t sound like it has any serious issues, it does pretty much what I want it to do (now that I’m starting to figure out how to use it), and so far it seems pretty crash-proof. The preview window is a little jittery when you’re editing and you want to see how things are looking, but I can live with that as long as things look good when the video is finalized.

Happy endings are so sexy.

Elsewhere, MY HELLHOUND CROOKED HEART is in the top ten on CJAM’s charts again. It floated around the top ten for three weeks in a row, dropped off the top thirty for a week, climbed back into the top twenty the next week, and now it’s back at #10. That’s…I don’t even know what that is. I’m not sure even CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN got that kind of airplay. And I don’t even know who all is playing my music at this point. I haven’t really heard it on the shows that normally play me in the past week or two. Where am I coming from? Who is where I am going? What has sent me there?

Speaking of CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN, I’ve decided to repackage it. I was working on getting more inserts made for a few albums like AN ABSENCE OF SWAY that are running low when I thought, “Why not?” My reasoning is, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s one of the more important albums I’ve made, and I’ve gradually come around to thinking the lyrics are probably worthy of being printed after all. So hopefully by sometime next week I will have a special “limited edition” (ha) reissued version of the album with a booklet full of lyrics — even including some of the words that were improvised — and a cover that’s in full colour. That’s right! Colour!

I’m not remixing the album or anything like that, and I’m perfectly happy with the way it looks in its original issued form. I just think it would be fun to give it a slightly different presentation, mostly for my own amusement, and so a few of the people who are interested can read the lyrics while listening if they want to without having to sit at a computer to make it happen. Besides, the version of the cover art Katie coloured for me a few months after the initial release is far too cool-looking not to share.

You’ll see what I mean soon enough.