The Job My Computer Was Built For


Back in Connecticut my friend Peter Sachs has become infatuated with a utility quadcopter. It has an onboard camera. Really cool video (see below).

He’s in on the ground floor.

I though the video was a little shaky, so I asked him send it to me.

Here’s the power of the net. He sent me this high quality, full HD video in just a few minutes. That’s when my computer took over.

This PC was built specifically to edit video. It has a fast and powerful CPU with a video card chosen to make it even speedier.

I fired up Premier, Adobe’s video editor and dragged in Peter’s video. A couple of clicks later I’d installed a filter which dampened movement. Very math intensive. It worked in the background as I moved on.

On a separate channel I brought in the original video. Diagonal wipe. Font. Render. Lather. Rinse.

I sat back like the chief engineer on a large ship. My feet were up on the desk. On screen graphs showed my CPU working at 100% on all four cores. 11.5Gb of RAM, the max I allow for Premier, was fully in use.

You should be awed by this technology. I am awed by it. Video production has been democratized. Anyone who wants to make video can make video. The cost barrier has been shattered.

In the late 80s Channel 8 put in a room that could do most of what I’m doing today, but in standard def and on video tape. It cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This setup is a hundredth the price with the ability to render work at today’s professional standards.

It’s just crazy. My career in TV started as film was moving out. Tape beat film for ease, but today’s technology blows away everything that came before.

Don’t be confused. I can’t edit like a professional editor. I don’t have the chops. The equipment itself only takes you so far.

I’d like to get more involved with video production. I’m fully equipped.

My Drive Home

I’ve taken to slowing down toward the top of the hill in Middletown. A trooper has been parking there recently. Running radar, right?

I was driving the little car home from work tonight. My year with Premier has ended and I’ve returned their Forester. They were great. The car was great. I recommend Premier highly because Bob’s a good guy and the cars are well made.

Anyway I’m driving home and I’m playing with this toy. I have a large dongle plugged into my car’s computer which transmits to my smartphone. It shows me things this 1999 model normally doesn’t divulge.

Seriously, how much of a dweeb am I?

One screen, three dials. One reads fuel flow, another long term miles per gallon and a third instantaneous miles per gallon.

If everyone had these we’d all save a lot on gas. Like I said, it’s a toy! I’m trying to get good mileage… without really slowing down.

Right now the car is telling me it’s averaging 30 mpg–higher than when I took the screengrab on the left. I doubt that number. Still a few days from a fill-up.

Idling uses .2 gallons per hour. Who knew? It also gives a meaningless instantaneous reading.

I’m very aware as I drive home. I try to be diligent.

I slow down toward the top of the hill in Middletown. A trooper has been hanging out recently. Running radar, right?

I caught him the first time from a distance. He was very well hidden in a very dark spot. I caught a tiny glint from an approaching vehicle. Lucky catch.

I slowed down as I approached his lair tonight. Sure enough, back again. He parked parked high up in a passthrough in the median. If he wants to write tickets, I-91 is like shooting fish in a barrel!

Attention I-91 officer: You get points for being the “Stealth Trooper!”

I know where I should be at certain times as I drive. When on-time I’m on the Wilbur Cross Parkway exit as I recite along with the radio, “WNPR and WNPR HD1 Hartford, WPKT and WPKT HD1 Norwich, WEDW-FM Stamford, WRLI-FM Southampton and WAIC in Springfield, Massachusetts. I’m Bruce Barber. Have a great night.” Midnight.

I wonder if that will creep Bruce out? It is a little weird.

The part of the Parkway I travel is a little narrower than I-91. It’s in very good shape. Traffic is light. Heading home it’s mostly downhill.

Little traffic. Lonely souls passing through and me going home.

I get off near the Oakdale Theater. I know it has some corporate name at the moment. It’s still “The Oakdale.”

From there it’s suburban roads in Wallingford then into more rural territory. I drive past a huge orchard with dozens of neat rows of fruit trees. There’s a view from Blue Hills Road I need to shoot. I keep saying that.

The road narrows. I veer left for a short connecting street then quickly left again. It’s really rural now. I travel an area that qualifies as a hollow. How many get that in 2012?

On most nights I have already seen my last car! It’s quiet. It’s dark. If there’s going to be fog it’s going to form here before any other place on my route.

I saw two deer tonight. Separate sightings. They were both in the area behind Sleeping Giant State Park. Two raccoon too.

My home is on a small hill. I gain 200 feet of elevation in the last mile.

It’s 33.1 miles from the Courant/FoxCT plant to my garage. I’d rather not tell you how long it takes. I drive when traffic is light.

It would be nice if they’d move the station closer or I could move closer or maybe the governor will grant me speed limit immunity? Probably not.

The drive is worth it.

Vide-Oh My

The video was put together in a near automated fashion using Apple’s iMovie, a program which only runs on Macs. Today I am jealous!

I saw a the thumbnail for a video posted by a friend of a friend on Facebook. What the heck–click. It’s a church group and a trip they took to Santa Catalina Island off the California coast.

Forget the scenery et al–what blew me away was the presentation. That’s what it is–a sophisticated presentation. It’s certainly more than you’d expect from a home movie. Video pulled out of scrapbook photos. A timeline traced the trip from the Midwest to California on a spinning globe.

The video was put together in a near automated fashion using Apple’s iMovie, a program which only runs on Macs. By specifying a template the program creates the finished product to match the desired look and feel. Can you see my jealousy?

I sent an email to Eric who pushed the buttons to make it happen. All he could do was tell me how easy it was. Eric–that doesn’t make it easier to take.

A Google search for a Windows application that does the same thing pointed to Adobe’s Premier Elements. It was the most often cited response. I’m going to give that a try. Unlike it’s more sophisticated cousins Premier Elements even handles the HD files from my little camcorder natively.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.