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13 November 2010

Before Digital

Editing video before digital was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. I got involved in video when my right arm started dying and I was having increasing difficulty painting and knew what was going to happen so moved my art-making to a format I could continue with. That was before digital, and initially I edited using a Hi-8 Sony camera, tapes, television, vcr, and a computer bought for just that purpose, and (a few times) at a community television studio using their professional gear. It was difficult, imprecise, and time-consuming. I taught all my students at the Lut to make simple animations, and ran a children's animation camp a couple of years in a row. Editing was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE.

The first program I used was probably Pinnacle Systems video editing program - analog version. It had some good sound effects and things, but holy moley analog was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. Shortly thereafter the digital revolution took place and I immediately bought a (very expensive) Sony digital video camera and Adobe Premiere. After slogging away in the foggy midnight of analog, digital was like the sun came up and the birds began to sing. I was able to teach my kids to edit, but because Premiere was too hard for 5 - 13 year olds I caused school to buy Ulead VideoStudio, which was kid-friendly. It was buggy, but never mind - I had arrived from the analog wastelands to the new digital continent and digital was simple, comparatively speaking. I had a couple of great animator student brothers and bought them a digital camera.

I still had Premiere at home but really never bothered to fire it up. Somewhere along the way (fairly early on I think) VideoStudio had stopped targeting children and moved into the normal home video market. I gradually got so used to Ulead VideoStudio (upgrading time after time after time) that it seemed simpler just to keep using it even after I left the Lut. I reasoned that if I hit a blockage and needed a more complex program I'd buy one - but until then VideoStudio was fine. Corel bought out Ulead and it became Corel VideoStudio.

I had been taping bands, events, making video letters, videotaping everything all the time (I look back in horror, but oh, well). At some point, oh about 2004 I stopped being able to film, and started making my first forays into machinima. I was using Fraps free version at first, as well as trying to get Second Life's built in video recorder to work (which was buggy and didn't record sound anyway, but which I swear was the open-source Taksi program as I installed that once and it caused the SL video capture to work). My first attempts were typical - dancing, flying, etc.

It's heaven not to need a camera at all. I bought a Space Navigator way back before SL supported them, and we had to do all kinds of complicated things to get it to work. Someone in the 3DConnexion forums had written a driver etc etc - you get the picture. Then SL started supporting it! W00t! That's really helpful, especially these days for me when I can't really do much in the way of keyboard chording. The missing Flycam notification onscreen has been nonexistent for so long now that it hardly bothers me. The V2 suppression implementation DOES, a lot, as it's all wrong for machinima and makes a lot of things impossible, but I honestly can't see LL changing that now.

I recently decided I wanted an easier-to-shoot still camera as mine, a Sony Cybershot which had been a great product when I bought it, was just getting too hard. I poked around and decided the full HD mini camcorders that also take stills would be useful. I read up and tried to decide which features were must-haves: self-timer, tripod-able, optical zoom. I was looking at W00t! one day and saw the Sanyo Exacti. A new version, I reasoned it was there due to its major ugliness rather than any technical failing. I bought it, and have been using it for time-lapse videos. I'd had it a week and dropped it - and thought it was busticated - yet it recovered and has continued to be invaluable, a very useful and easy-to-use camera.

posted by - 1:03 PM

I am eternally grateful to you for showing me the way to make machinima. It is a great joy for me, and it utilizes a lot of different creative avenues, all of which I love.d I love building virtual sets, making virtual costumes, working out plot structures with you and HBA, writing scripts, recording voices, shooting film of course, changing the time of day, lighting, and skies. I could ramble on ... THANK YOU!

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