Monday, 7 April 2008

So, it turns out I can't spell!

Trying to sort out the video I shot for the first Silverlight UK User Group meeting has been a fascinating, if frustrating, foray into the world of producing video for the web for me.

On my 'emergency' video editing machine (a Dell D820 laptop, albeit a laptop with fast CPU, 4GB memory, oodles of hard drive space and an internal 1920x1200 screen) it takes about 8 hours to render half an hour of video at 720p resolution! Yikes!

That's AFTER I've added the subtitling for any inaudible pieces (audience questions/comments or talks from presenters who just won't wear a radio mic). I'm not sure I'd have bothered with sub-titles if I'd known ahead of time it would take 8 hours to transcribe/edit into the video the questions asked during a simple half hour talk, but with technical subject matter the audio is often more important than the video, and short of insisting every audience member use a mic it's hard to see any other solution to the problem.

But there's a lot of other time taken up by the production process too. Renders not only make your laptop unusable for anything else for ridiculous amounts of time, but they can crash too (with an amusing .NET "Write exception" message from Sony Vegas Pro - who knew it was written in managed code?!) which all adds to the "clock ticking away and I'm getting nowhere" fun.

Even after all that rendering time the resulting half hour video turns out to be far too big (over 1GB!) for any of the free video hosting services to take onboard. So the video then had to spend a couple more hours in Microsoft's Expression Encoder to get it down to a more realistic size (under 250MB). And that shrinking down in size, with viddler's own compression applied on top, sadly means my dreams of 720p hi-def perfection over the web are somewhat dashed! Quite aside from the fact we're still not done with wall clock time!

Add in 4-5 hours for Viddler and/or Vimeo to upload the video, and then a couple of hours on top of that for the hosting service to do its own compression on the resulting uploaded stream and you start to see why what sounds simple ("I'll just record a couple of sessions at a user group and put them on the web") can turn into days of elapsed time and a not insignificant amount of work.

So, I was feeling quite pleased with myself earlier this morning when the first three videos were finally done, uploaded and content approved, until presenter Tim Sneath just mentioned in passing that in the title sequence which starts each and every video I hadn't spelt the word 'inaugural' correctly. Aaaaarggghh! I'm afraid I WON'T be going back through all the video to correct it and then tie up my laptop for another 3 days re-rendering, but the lesson learnt (yet again!) is if you've got a spell checker you should use it! In the meantime I'm wishing I had a top-of-the-range Macintosh and a copy of Final Cut Pro at my disposal!

The first three videos are now available for viewing over on Michelle Flynn's blog. Also a mailing list has been set up for those in the UK interested in the group and discussing Silverlight overall.

One side effect of this work is that launch of The Daily.NET Show has now slipped a week. But I think it's worth the slippage because the content of these user group videos makes them well worth seeing.


Josh said...

hi there, nice work getting these up. i'll be posting some notes from this event on the user group site at some point this evening, i'll include these videos too :)

for now, here's the mailing list that was mentioned would be set up:

see you all at the next one, which will be announced on the site, on the facebook group and on the mailing list.


Ian said...

Thanks Josh. The user group got off to a fantastic start and I'm really looking forward to the next one.

Ian said...

Can't find a way to do that in comments, but have updated the original blog entry to show a link (in the same paragraph as the link to the videos on Michelle's blog).