Archive for March, 2008

Mini-DVDs are so adorable…until you try to play them!!

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I don’t know what it is about the universe, but somehow, we have been getting a lot of questions about Mini-DVDs these days. Perhaps the camcorders that made them have died and there is a desperation to save the material on these discs before their material is lost forever to the dreaded “incompatible format” message.

So what do you do with those little discs and how the hell do you get the material off of them safely?

Alright. It’s not as hard as it seems. There are two ways to do it…and one way to definitely NOT do it.

First of all, if you have a side-loading iMac, do not insert the mini-DVD into the CD slot or your computer (errr… and your life) will be seriously hosed. Instead, you’re going to need an external DVD drive that sits flat on the desk. Also, that drive must have the Mini-DVD imprint cut out in the tray to accommodate the small disc.

Then, stick the disc in the external drive. Once it loads, copy the entire disc to a folder on your computer. Eject the disc.

Next, open your burning software and burn all the contents of the folder to a new disc as a data dvd, not a playable DVD. This will include the VOB files. Burn the disc and you’re all done. Even the menus are copied and the disc will play perfectly on any DVD player if you use DVD-R media.

The second way to transfer the mini-disc to a standard DVD-R is to play the disc in a DVD player or camcorder that accommodates the format. Take the analog wires from the DVD player “Out” connectors and send it to a DVD-R recorder. Make sure to set your source DVD player as “play continuously through chapter stops,” or something that sounds like that. Then hit record on your DVD recorder and the video will copy. The only problem is, the menus won’t copy, but at least the video content will be preserved.

Finally, don’t buy into newfangled technology that is unproven in the marketplace for less than a year and a half. Seriously! People clamored for those adorable little mini DVDs the second they hit the shelves in stores without thinking of the fact that the format is inferior, holds insufficient amounts of video, overly compresses the footage, is next to impossible to playback on any other video or computer machine, and easily scratches and jams.

By the way, those discs are a freaking blast for teenagers to have “frisbee” fights with!

The sexiest video I have ever seen! HDCAM SR!!

Monday, March 17th, 2008

HDCAM SR leaves Pamela Anderson’s sex tape in the dust.

Just like the great format wars, Beta vs. VHS and Blu-Ray vs.  HD DVD, another video format has finally pushed its last pixel. Yes, the popular professional tape format D5 has finally been relegated to the digital wasteland of yore like its brethren, the Jazz Drive, Digital 8, and of course, its dark father, D2.

The giant studios like Universal and Disney have onlined many a show on the robust digital format of D5. But now, the majors have fallen in love with HDCAM SR, sexy young digital powerhouse of a tape format. This baby has 4K of the richest digital picture imaginable, and delivers full 4:4:4 at 440 Mbps. Yeah, this baby knows she’s hot.

Supporting 23.98/24/25/29.97/ 30PsF, 1080/50i/59.94/60i, and 720/59.94P, HDCAM SR was created to meet all common worldwide delivery requirements. It’s support the gamut of HD frame/line rates in both 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 formats using the highly efficient MPEG-4 Studio Profile compression scheme. The format supports 10 bit Log or linear, at 2.7:1 compression ratio in 4:2:2, and 4.2:1 compression ratio for 4:4:4. It can also run 12 channels of audio at 24-bit per sample resolution.  So yeah, this baby is about as sexy as they come.

But nobody said it’s cheap.  In fact, it’s painfully expensive and the studios are going to let years of  television disappear into the past without being archived on the HDCAM SR format because it is cost prohibitive unless the show was a hit.

So if you still have a couple  favorite shows on VHS tapes you recorded back in the day via your rabbit ears (also a relic of the past), you better transfer them to DVD yourself because that’s the best quality you will likely ever see again. But boy, that HDCAM SR is pretty damn sexy.

– Kirk

Size Matters! How to create a small Quicktime for pushing across the web

Friday, March 14th, 2008

There are so many codecs for digital movies out there that is becomes really confusing when you are trying to make a small file to place on Youtube, an ftp site or to email to everyone in your address book.  By the way, a codec is the formula used to compress and decompress a digital movie.  For example, you can compress your video clip using H263, H264, Animation, Sorensen, Cinepak, Animated GIF, DV, DV  Stream, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, M4V, FLC, SWF, and on and on.


You could literally test and play with settings and parameters for days and you will eventually drive yourself crazy trying to get the perfect file that is small enough to email but vivid and snappy enough to get you the recognition and accolades you deserve.


Here’s a fool proof, easy way to do it…


Buy Apple’s Quicktime Pro application for  around $40 bucks. Then open your big, uncompressed monster of a movie file, then say “EXPORT” in Quicktime Pro and choose “FOR iPOD.”


That’s it. Your file will be tiny and look amazing. Even though you ended up with merely an .M4V file that you could have done that yourself, you would never be able to compete with the genius eggheads at Apple who have spent hundreds of hours in R&D to have the perfect codec settings!


This is also a great file to upload to YouTube. Their upload robot LOVES this file. However, if you want to make it absolutely perfect for YouTube, you should create your original big file at 400×300 pixels, because otherwise YouTube will scale your file and cause it to lose some resolution. I understand that 400×300 is a non-standard aspect ration in computer land, but that’s what YouTube is, so you might as well create your original file that size. Be sure to make the file with those dimensions PRIOR to crunching down with the “EXPORT TO iPOD.”