Saturday, May 31, 2008

Using a DVD camcorder with iMovie '08

I have no spare cash! School fees mean that where I used to be able to spend a decent amount on something I now have to bide my time and go economy! A few years ago (2001 IIRC) my old JVC S-VHS camcorder died a death when it fell out of the car - the lacing ring was distorted and you couldn't get replacements. So, a couple of weeks ago I bought a Samsung camcorder - little thing that records onto mini-DVDs and produces standard MPEG-2 VOBs in a Video_TS folder (it'll play on a set-top DVD player - unless it has a slot-loading drive like my MacBook Pro!). The MPEG is CBR at 9 Mbits on it's best setting. You get half an hour on one of those dual-layer mini disks. It's so small that it really does fit in your coat pocket which is ideal for a day out with the kids. If I'd have had the cash for a Z1 I'd never take it out! Anyhow - the criticisms online about these kind of camcorders is that they record long-GOP MPEG2 and as such once you've got the video into any editing app and out again you've gone through two decompress/re-compress cycles. I think the biggest problem is the 1/3" single-chip sensor!
Anyhow - iMovie under Leopard doesn't import VOBs (even from non-encrypted DVDs) but it will import media from some of the JVC HD-type camcorders. When you connect them over USB they look like external drives with a DVD file-structure. So - here are my instructions for getting iMovie to import DVD-camcorder footage without resorting to transcoding to another codec;

1) Insert DVD.
2) Open Disk Utility.
3) Select the disk and then select "New Image". Save the disk image wherever is convenient, such as the desktop.
4) Once the disk image is written, open iMovie 08.
5) Mount the new disk image. A "Camera Detected, Scanning Contents" window will appear in iMovie 08, followed by an import window. You can now import the DVD contents and start editing away.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Frames and 7digital

For ages I've been waiting for Amazon to launch their MP3 store here in the UK. Now iTunes is ultimately easy to use but I don't buy DRM-crippled music. Anyhow - Brian put me onto 7digital and then (after hearing me listen to BellX1) he recommended that I check out The Frames. I scored their album 'The Cost' for seven quid and have been enjoying it ever since.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Too much work!

Working all weekend and lots on in the week - No blog entries for a while!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The ultimate USB stick

I've just got PortableApps working with TruCrypt so I can have all the protable apps I need on a two-gig USB drive along with all my work files stored in an encrypted container. With OpenOffice as well as loads of other useful apps I can message, email, browse, edit audio, etc etc. with only a Windows PC required.
This is very useful - I shall flesh this out tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sanctuary are bust

It's a shame that so many facilities are going out of business at the moment - Sanctuary had recently moved into the old Oasis building (after they went bust) and a lot of friends were involved as contractors building the new place. They're all considerably out of pocket.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tektronix WVR7120 audio pinouts

Why do Tek lock their PDFs?!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sony History

A great site that gives an overview of Sony's product line over the years. Very interesting.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Technical descriptions of UK test cards up your anorak and prepare to get your teeth into some real technical stuff. Each of the elements in a well-designed test card has a reason for being there and this page, which includes extracts from BBC and IBA information sheets and articles derived therefrom, attempts to explain exactly what their purpose is.

I live for this stuff!

Friday, May 02, 2008

NowPublic citizen journalism website

I hadn't heard of these guys before but they emailed late last night asking if they could use this picture I took on my 'phone on the way out of the polling booth yesterday - we're voting for the mayor and London Assembly.
You can see the story here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Demystifying Digital Camera Specifications

April 3, 2008 - John Galt, Head of Advanced Digital Imaging at Panavision, and Larry Thorpe, National Marketing Manager at Canon Broadcast & Communications Division, came together to help untangle some common misunderstandings in Digital Camera Specifications.

One thing that I had never really appreciated was the reason why single sensor cameras produce RAW images and why that is important. Why, I thought, couldn't you just take full-res RGB from the camera (most RGB formats - TIFF and Targa can represent more dynamic range that the sensor can produce) and be done with it? However - a Bayer matrix in front of a single sensor is a heck of a compromise and if you want to stand the best chance of extracting all the resolution (in all three channels) you are stuck with RAW. I suppose having such a background in video means I always think about image capture and processing in terms of RGB.
Mark Lloyd (root6's own webmaster and guerrilla filmmaker) tells me this is proving a thorn in the side for the Red camera which uses a Canon DSLR image sensor (Bayer-filtered, of course).

Anyhow - watch the presentation - the link in the title is to the 480p starting at part six. The final two parts are the most interesting for bayer/single-sensor cameras. The first two parts provide a very good explanation of MTF (Modulation Transfer Function).
If you're hungry for more (and who isn't?!) The Schubin Report had a great podcast on the subject last year.