Back in the old days, things were very simple. You filmed endless hours of footage with your analog camcorder; your summer holidays, opening Christmas presents around the tree, your child’s first steps and birthday parties.
Then, the night before you set out on your next summer holiday, the wife utters words that strike fear into the very heart of your soul:
‘Charge the camcorder batteries and have you transferred all the tapes to video so we can re-use them ?’
Of course, you haven’t. So while everyone else slumbers, you untangle the wire spaghetti and transfer six hours of tedious footage spanning 364 days that no-one will ever watch. Worse, to prove you did a proper job, the wife has included crafty snippets of footage of grey cloudy skies, the inside of the camcorder case and an inadvertent curse. Of course, she has done this deliberately to ensure you locate and edit these mistakes out of the directors cut presented for her final rigorous QA review. This task involves skillful dexterity with both hands on the play/record and pause buttons on the video and the camcorder and prolongs the agony.
Eventually, you decide there must be a better way and this is to embrace the digital age so you buy a digital camcorder .
Excited and eager to play with the technology, you make a short, 72 minute film, alone in your bedroom.
You unwrap all the wires, connect them to the computer only to discover you need something called a Firewire card. Your interest wanes and you tell the wife you ’need a part and I haven’t got one in the van so it will be 6 weeks'.
Weeks later, and much to your surprise, you successfully install the Firewire card needed for video capture.
Finally, you can transfer the footage to the PC. Sony helpfully include software (curiously named ‘Picture Motion Browser’) to perform the transfer. Staggeringly, you can even rewind, play and fast forward the camcorder from your computer.
Amazingly, you transfer your alternative film which traces the life of a pair of socks from the drawer, through a full day worn on a pair of feet and finally into the wash basket.
You proudly gather the family to review this stupendous and life changing event. Feedback is mixed; ‘Is that it ?’ and tantalisingly ‘Can’t you edit out the 32 seconds of the ceiling ?’.
Of course, you can edit the footage. You are a master of the digital age. You are a budding film director. You quickly remove the spurious footage from the final cut. Only you can’t because the Sony bundled software doesn’t support video editing. You have to shell out £50 for a separate product called Sony Vegas .
Alternatively, you can use Windows Movie Maker (freely available with Windows) which is capable of importing the AVI files and actually editing clips. Even better, you can add opening titles, closing credits and an impressive fade effect as the socks are tossed into the wash basket.
Your life is complete. You turn the computer off and forget all about digital video technology.
Until 8 weeks later, when you are going to visit the in-laws and the wife says:
‘My mum and dad would like to see the DVD of our holidays and that alternative film you make about a pair of socks.’
No problem. You simply turn the computer on, open the project and click ‘Burn to DVD’.
Only you can’t. Your computer doesn’t have a DVD burner. No problem. You share the files to another computer and hit ‘Burn to DVD’.
Only you can’t. Windows Movie Maker can’t create DVD’s.
No problem. The computer happens to have a trial version of Video Studio installed so you simply save the Movie Maker film as a new, large AVI file, import it, and click ‘Burn to DVD’.
Only you can’t. There isn’t enough disk space.
You count to 10. 10 times. Then, in a fit of pique and a last desperate effort to preserve your sanity, you spontaneously splash out on an external hard disk drive with half a terabyte of storage dedicated to digital video data and a DVD writer.
The Freecom drive simply plugs into a USB port, has a separate power supply and works out of the box. No need to read the non-existent instructions. Oddly, the drive is formatted as FAT32 so you perform a quick format to NTFS and start copying files. Happily, the drive is quick and more importantly quiet.
Similarly, the LG DVD writer also plugs into another USB port and has a separate power supply. The drive includes a copy of Nero Express so you can finally burn the godforsaken video footage to DVD.
Finally, the holiday footage is edited, trimmed with effects and titles. There is even a top level menu including Chapters, humorous out takes, interviews, biographies, versions in French, German and Italian and an ‘Extras’ disc.
You are delighted and even though you say it yourself, quite proud of your achievements in the past 3 weeks. You go downstairs to share the glad tidings and sit down with a bucket of popcorn and a gallon of Coca-Cola to enjoy the DVD with the family.
It is unusually quiet and there is a note on the kitchen table
Couldn’t wait any longer.
Gone to Crete.
Back in 2 weeks.
Hoover upstairs, mow the lawn and wash the pots.
Window cleaner on Wednesday.