Monday, July 21, 2008

Techno Overload

I have been up to my neck in cords...cords for downloading images to my computer, cords to connect the iPod to the computer, cords from my external drive to the computer, and lastly connecting the video camera to the computer. THAT is what is driving me crazy. I will never buy or learn two new techno products in the same month. Maybe not even the same year.

Here's the problem. In the past month, I have purchased an iPod and a RCA Small Wonder. I also renewed my subscription to NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Now this probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most folks, but it is. In this blog, I'm just going to write about the RCA Small Wonder. This is a product of a she-devil.

I mentioned going to the beach in my last post, where my husband, Tom, was going to deejay at the Ocean Drive Pavilion over the 4th of July. We (he) thought it would be a good idea to buy a small video camera so that I could video him as he played and get testimonials from his friends known as, "the folks between the posts." (This is his 25th year playing at the beach and a pretty big deal so it needed to be chronicled.) Jason, a friend of ours, gave us the idea when he sent us a DVD of Tom playing at an earlier event at the beach. He used a FLIP, similar to the Small Wonder, said it was simple to use and make the DVD's. HA!

So, I bought the SW instead of the Flip because it was $50. less. Now I'm thinking that was a mistake. On the drive to the beach as we listened to a book on tape that had NINE cd's, I started reading the directions. I multi-task. I was convinced that this was going to be a piece of cake. I was so wrong. The actual videoing, i.e. pushing the buttons, is not a big deal. But they left out lots of info that would have made this experience easier. So that you won't make the same mistake, here are a few tips that you should know. #1. Don't talk while you are taping. This video camera looks like a digital camera. You look through the LCD as you tape forgetting that the mike is on the same side. Taking still shots, you don't have to worry about sound. I had to delete several clips because...well, let's just say I should have kept my mouth shut. Get it? #2. You have to remember to go slow while panning. I keep thinking about that scene in The Thomas Crown Affair when the camera circled Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. How did they do it without making us dizzy? I'm afraid I don't have that talent and I didn't take film-making in college, so I have to remember to slow down and keep the camera level. If you're drinking, don't even try this.

After videoing for one afternoon, I downloaded the action into the computer. Here's tip #3. You have to be ready to edit and copy when it is downloaded. The editing program is in the camera. As far as I can tell, the program can't be downloaded onto your computer. You can download and save the videos, but the cutsie stuff that comes with the camera has to be done when you are downloading. I went to the web looking for directions regarding this piece of ... equipment and they all seem to think it's a plus for the editing program to be in the camera! Here's the thing...what if you just want to get the images out of the camera and into the computer so that you can start videoing again and you're really not feeling creative, or you don't want to take the time to edit?

Here's how I handled that challenge. I found Windows Movie Maker. Again, I went on the web and downloaded their editing program. This time I could actually install it in the computer ... for free! For those of you who are shaking your heads thinking that I am soooo not with it, just remember that I have been into photography, not video. This is a whole new world to me.

The Windows Movie Maker is yet ANOTHER new program to learn. Yes, it's simple, but there are a few challenges involved here. When you import video into the program, it is imported in small clips. It was frustrating at first until I discovered the timeline at the bottom. After dragging all of the clips to the storyboard and then clicking on the timeline, I was able to produce a video with no interruptions or breaks. I bet there are books on this program, I just don't have one. I really don't have any room for more books in my office, at least not until I get rid of the back issues of Martha Stewart magazines. But that's asking a lot. I just never know when I might need to know how to wash windows without Windex (can't find that issue), how to arrange garden roses (Sept.2001) or what shade of beige should be used in the hallway (May, 2007). I wish she would publish an issue on Windows Movie Maker. Do you hear me Martha? I digress.

After making the video, I needed to save it. After several mistakes, I pulled down SAVE PROJECT. That's important. The final step is copying it to a CD or a DVD. I wanted to save to a DVD because I wanted to watch it on the television. NO CAN DO. I don't have a DVD burner. I have a CD burner, but that won't work on our DVD player.

So, today I went to Micro Center to buy a DVD burner. The 20 something geek assured me that it would fit my Dell and was a piece of cake to install. I fell for it. The smart thing I did was to have one of those 20 something guys help me install it. I did and they watched. Got home, turned on the computer and I immediately got a screen that said something like, "there is something new installed in this computer and you need to get it out before the hard drive dies and you lose absolutely everything on it." OK, that's not word for word, but close. So I turned off the computer, got the screwdriver, and uninstalled the DVD burner and reinstalled the original CD burner and player. I turned the computer back on and all is well.

My husband seems to think that I can get an external DVD burner. We'll see. Just one more cord to deal with, and yes, another program. I can't wait.


JennyB said...

Uncle Tom's right. Get the burner. And get a Mac while you're at it!

Karen said...

I agree with Jennifer. The Mac might have more of what you need.
Love the blog!