Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Losing My Marbles

I'm fascinated by how easily "non-techie" types can create and post videos on YouTube. They make it sound so easy. Thus was born a goal to create and post my very own video and become famous on YouTube. Now, I'm a fairly techie type. I know computers, I know cameras, I know video editing and producing. After all, I was the "Producer of the Year" back in 1996 at our local cable broadcast station. I produced, directed, or otherwise assisted in creating about 100 hours of live programs that year. So I figured it would be a no-brainer for me.

First up, I had the computer and the software, but I needed a digital camera. When I buy something, I want the best - but spending a $1000 on a new HD camera just for a whim didn't make much sense. And settling for something less wouldn't make me happy. Then I remembered, we gave our daughter and son-in-law a digital camera for Christmas about three years ago. I had a plan. I'd borrow the camera and all would be just dandy.

Camera in hand, I started playing with it. That is when the first issue occurred. Even though it was an auto-focus camera, everything seemed blurry except a certain zoom setting. Hmm. So I do what I never do, read the frickin' manual (RTFM)! That didn't help. It said the auto-focus should actually focus on the subject. After about two hours of futzing, I came to the realization that the focusing mechanism didn't work any more. A call to my daughter confirmed my suspicion. Oh well, I have a massive tripod from my photography days. I'll just set it up and keep the camera locked in one position. Not the best, but it would work.

Now I decided I wanted to make a short video about my marbles. I really hadn't taken any photographs of them - see previous posting on that long, sorid tale. I filmed (oops I can't say filmed, or even taped any more as these are obsolete technologies, guess its "videoed") about 15 minutes of stuff. I even tried some movement trying to keep the focus in check. All those years of handholding a camera paid off as I think I had usable footage.

Next hurdle was moving the video from the camera to the computer. Did I mention that this camera is "only" three years old? Again, I was faced with obsolescence. It uses a small re-recordable DVD to store the video. I had to download drivers for the computer to actually read that disk. Another hour wasted - but had the files onto my computer.

And then the next hurdle - I have to convert the file to a recognized format. Back to the 'net to find a suitable converter. Oh crap, all of them cost $. Look for another hour before I find one that works, doesn't have a watermark, and is free, at least for the time being. Looks like this Saturday is getting taken up on this adventure.

The file is now recognized by the sofware I plan to use - Camtasia. Maybe not the best, but I own it, I know it, and it should do the job. This turns out to be the easiest step by far. Drag a few clips, edit them down, find a suitable royaltee-free piece of muzak on the web, create some titles, and transitions, blah blah blah. This is where all that TV production experience comes into play. Piece of cake. Gee, I can have some fun doing this.

I log on to YouTube, create an ID, upload the file, and I have a VIDEO ON YOUTUBE!!! Eight or nine hours later, but I've done it. I didn't spend any money in the process either. Nor did I have any trips to the big box stores (Lowes, Home Depot, Meijer, ...) which is my usual Saturday morning conversation - "I'm off to Lowes".

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