Scott Hanselman

Turning 105 gigs of Digital Video into a one hour Wedding DVD with Windows Live Movie Maker

March 25, '12 Comments [16] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

Here's the tale of how I took 7 hours of PAL DV tape and digital video, two CD's worth of music, 322 photos that totaled 105 gigs of digital assets and turned it into a DVD of my brother in law's wedding. The result was 66 min, 364 cuts and included music, overlays (who's that cousin?) and some nice transitions, as well as a DVD menu.

I know next to nothing about digital video and I'm sure all of you who will comment on this will say stuff like "Dude, why didn't you use Adobe Premiere/Avid/iMovie/an IPad" or whatever. You'll also say that you have created much more interesting/complex/impressive projects. Poop on you, I say. I'm feeling pretty darned proud of myself here because I just made a DVD that my family will love. ;)

OK, here's what my amateur self did.

My wife went to South Africa for a month last year to her brother's wedding. I stayed home with the kids. She returned with five hours of digital video on a bunch of PAL Digital Video Cassettes. PAL is essentially the non-US format. We use NTSC here.  PAL is 576 lines interlaced. She also brought over 300 photos across a half dozen digital cameras as well as an other two hours of 720p video shot with our little Canon S95.

Importing/Ripping Video from Tapes

First, I needed to get the PAL video off the mini-DV tapes. If you want to rip PAL DV tapes you really need a PAL DV player, then you can just hook up a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable and import the video directly.

I decide to use Windows Movie Maker because it was free. I have a Mac around here somewhere but it's a few years old and I really wanted to edit this as fast as possible so I used my more powerful machine which is my Windows Desktop.

Back in the Windows XP days I remember this experience sucking badly. There were Firewire drivers to find, and most machines were too slow and too small to import video without dropping frames. In this case I just plugged in the cable to the camera, then to the PC and got a dialog.

Importing Digtal Video

I selected import and it even chopped up the scenes into separate files. About 60 gigs and 5 hours later I had all my PAL mini DVD tapes in an uncompressed AVI format.

That's 55 gigs of Video Files

Getting Assets Organized

Cool. I also had some CDs and music we bought I knew I wanted to use, as well as all the other AVIs from digital cameras, some DVDs of other video and all those photos. I put them each into folders like this:

Raw DVDs, Source Audio, Source Photos, Source Tapes, Source Videos

This is as far as I went for "asset management," although we did go through the video and give them descriptive filenames like this (yes, that's an actual filename):

"17A - Ceremony Begins; MC, Pastor Arthur prayer & welcome; Choir sings; Mbusi, Fatty & other girl arrive; Mbux & Groomsmen Bridesmaids Phili waiting in car Vusi4 2011-09-27 08.23.20.avi"

That file name might seem silly, but the  gamble paid off later. It's totally unambiguous. At this point we're organized and have 105 gigs of files on an external drive.

105 Gigs of Digital Assets

Editing in Windows Live Movie Maker

As I recall around the Windows XP times Windows Movie Maker wasn't very good, but I thought I'd give it a try, because it's free, sure, but also because I didn't want to do lot of multi-layered super complex editing, I just wanted to make a wedding DVD. I did want to do some reasonable interesting editing though because I had multiple camera angles on the same event. I also had the source music that was playing the background.

This meant I would/should be able to, for example, take three angles on the ring along with the music in the background and assemble a series of quick cuts in order on the same event while cleaning up the music using the original source. That was about the trickiest thing I'd want to do.

Here's an example sequence. The bride is coming in, I've got cross fades between some (indicated by the white triangle in the corner of each segment) and tight cuts between others. There's music coming in as she walks up, that fades out, the ring, then another song starts up and some photos come in.

You can mix photos and videos and get a "Ken Burns effect" automatically with pans and zooms around the stills. I mixed and matched video and photos along with audio and didn't have any trouble. I ended up with 364 scenes/cuts in the end, about 80% video and 20% photos.

The Bride coming in and the Ring

Each box there is a segment of video. You can split, trim, set starts and ends and move them around. The green lines are audio files that I brought in of the music that was playing at the time. That made the audio a lot nicer when it was just music playing and allowed for fun dance sequences like this excerpt video below. I really like the crazy color effect starting at 10 seconds in. It really works with the bridesmaids dresses.

I even published that segment above directly from within Windows Live Movie Maker with the built-in YouTube Plugin.

YouTube Plugin in Windows Live Movie Maker

I can zoom in to make the segments lengths expand which makes their size more representative of their length in seconds I can also hover over a segment and see how long it is, the filename it came from (see now why I used big filenames?) as well as it's speed, effects, etc all in a tooltip. This segment is about 8 seconds long.

Lots of information in the Windows Live Movie Maker Tooltips

The whole video ended up being 66 minutes and 35 seconds long. It rendered into a 10Mb/s5 gig HD WMV file and fit nicely on a 480p DVD.  I may do a 25Mb/s or 50Mb/s Blu-Ray also. Remember that the PAL tapes were 576i and the HD video from the digital cameras were 720p so there isn't really a reason to do a Blu-Ray, but the still photos are all >5 Megabits so they'd be improved by a 1080p treatment. I was pleasantly surprised to see 1080p as an option in Windows Live Movie Maker:

1080p is an option in Windows Live Movie Maker

Size of Videos

I was a little concerned that maybe Windows Live Movie Maker (WLM) couldn't do large videos or long videos or complex videos. With 105 gigs over 5 hours turning into an hour of video I figured I'd be taking a chance. Turned out it worked fine. I kept all the videos in their folders and the WLM file is just pointers to all the things I wanted done. The final video editing file from WLM was about 500k. It looks like an XML file with a bunch of time codes.

NOTE: I did have one technical issue where I was getting all black video previews in Windows Live Movie Maker. It turned out to be an NVidia Display Driver issue. Mine was old, and when I upgraded to the latest drivers I was all set.

It took two sessions of four hours each to edit the video and about an hour to render. I rendered into a large WMV file that was about 5 gigs. I did have three 'hang' crashes in Windows Live Movie Maker over the 8 hours, although I'd been saving every few minutes the whole time. The hangs seemed to be related to me moving audio around too fast then right clicking immediately, but I need to check on that.

Then I ran Windows DVD Maker and dragged the final file in. It automatically created scenes and a DVD menu. The opening title also includes a music background and the menu moves (it's not static) which is nice.

Windows DVD Maker includes a lot of options

One of my other obscure requirements was that I needed to be able to make both NTSC and PAL versions of the DVD. I didn't see any options for this in Windows Live Movie Maker, but there are options in Windows DVD Maker. I was able to burn two master DVDs, one PAL and one NTSC. I'll then make copies and send 20 of these home to South Africa knowing they will play in their DVD player.

PAL and NTSC in Windows DVD Maker

Conclusion

The couple of crashes were irritating but I crash Adobe Premiere a lot too. Overall, I was impressed. Windows Live Movie Maker was easy to use, had hot-keys for things like Split that sped me up once I got a rhythm going and handled a VERY large amount of high quality video without any issues. I'll use it again for family stuff, weddings and the like.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

The Privacy Chain - Your Site's Privacy Policy as the 3rd Party services pile up

March 23, '12 Comments [7] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

There are so many really innovative products online right now. A good friend was showing me amazing product called Intercom that lets you see who of your users are online, their social profiles, even direct message/chat them live on your site.

You just add this JavaScript to your site. Here's the snippet from their home page:

<script id="IntercomSettingsScriptTag">
var intercomSettings = {
app_id: 'tx2p1ufd7g30c',
email: 'john@example.com',
created_at: 1234567890
};
</script>
<script>
(function() {
function async_load() { var s = document.createElement('script'); s.type = 'text/javascript'; s.async = true; s.src = 'https://api.intercom.io/api/js/library.js'; var x = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; x.parentNode.insertBefore(s, x); }
if (window.attachEvent) {
window.attachEvent('onload', async_load);
} else {
window.addEventListener('load', async_load, false);
}
})();
</script>

My buddy was thrilled and thought this was an amazing product. It totally is. With modern browsers and modern JavaScript we can more quickly integrate applications like Intercom, Google Analytics, UserVoice, JanRain and a thousand others into our websites. It's a LEGO web, indeed. Just add some JavaScript like above and you're off.

However, after looking at this for about 5 minutes, I rained on my friends parade.

"Hey, is that the user's email address there?

"Yes! The 3rd party needs that so they can populate their dashboard and keep track of who's who."

"Ah, OK, but you're sending that email to them, right?"

"Yep."

"And they're storing that, right?"

"Yep."

"So, what's their privacy policy and how will it be added into yours? There's a chain of privacy policies that needs to happen here. What 3rd parties does this company use? And theirs?"

"You're totally raining on my parade. But you're right."

We emailed the folks at Intercom and they knew immediately what we were talking about and answered exactly as they should. Here's their email:

Sure thing, firstly our official terms & privacy policy are here:

http://docs.intercom.io/#PrivacyAndTerms

The short summary is...

1. You own your data, when you kill your account we don't keep it. We never sell it. We never contact your users. We will never do anything with your data that we wouldn't be proud to tell the world about.

2. We have a feature where we use a 3rd party service called FullContact, to augment your data, for example find an twitter/linkedin/facebook/github account that matches an email address. This can give you extra insight into the types of users  you have. You can easily disable this in your app settings.

Regarding updating your privacy policy, you obviously should note that you send data to Intercom for the purposes of providing support and extended communication with your customers. You might already have this covered under other areas (for example if you use helpdesk software, certain analytics packages, etc then you're already doing precisely this)

Ultimately you should check with your lawyer who created your privacy policy to ensure that using Intercom doesn't violate your existing privacy and find out precisely what changes are necessary.

Exactly. Knowing is half the battle. Are you using a number of 3rd party services? Are you integrating "on the glass" with JavaScript? Step 0 is making sure your Privacy Policy reflects the chain of Privacy Policies for all the products you use.


Sponsor: Again, I want to thank my friends DevExpress for sponsoring this week's feed. There is no better time to discover DevExpress. Visual Studio 11 beta is here and DevExpress tools are ready! Experience next generation tools, today.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Technical Analysis: The Abercrombie and Fitch Brown Pants Fiasco, "Splogs," and you

March 22, '12 Comments [25] Posted in Blogging
Sponsored By

Offensive Abercrombie and Fitch Pants on a Chinese Knockoff SiteWARNING - This post will ultimately lead you to sites using offensive racial terms.

My Twitter friend Wesley pointed me this apparent Abercrombie and Fitch website advertising a pair of N***** Brown Pants. Here's a screenshot if that link dies. After the shock and frustration wears off, you ask yourself "How could this happen?" This link is spreading all over Twitter and the social web right now, and I'm sure that the Abercrombie PR machine will jump on it when their Twitter person wakes up.

Let me walk you through a few things.

  • First, what a technical-type person does (or should do) in this situation.
  • Second, why the internet is WAY WAY more screwed up than you ever thought
  • Third, why no one should really be buying anything on the web.

The Technical Details

While it's possible that an idiot at Abercombie entered the N-word text, my eye immediately went to the domain:

abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com

Note the dashes and the "and?" No internationally-known and copyrighted brand would have such a lousy domain. I'd expect Abercrombie.com, full stop. In fact, it is.

I loaded up Domain Tools to see who owns this obvious knockoff. Like actual physical knockoffs of pants, there's no good way to tell what's real and what's not. I hit: http://whois.domaintools.com/abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com

Registrant Contact:
   su ye
   ye su 
   +86.095156230147 fax: +86.095156230147
   NO.217 North Street, Yinchuan Qinghe
   yinchuanshi ningxia 750000
   CN

The domain is registered in China. OK, this is NOT Abercrombie's site. It can also be confirmed by the poor English on the site's about page as well as the throwaway reference to Chinese piracy:

A&F is the favorite brand of American college students, a lovely deer printed on the front of the youth fashion. Its fashion and personalized style always the certain reason some youngsters follow. Nowadays, Abercrombie and Fitch piracy in China has spread to unimaginable proportions. Soft cotton is comfortable in the apparel.

OK, so how much of a problem is this and these pants? The combination of the N-word along with a unique brand-name like Abercrombie makes for a good hash. That means these words together, especially if you add "pants," makes for a search term that is unlikely to happen in the wild.

It's worse than you think

If we then Google for the four words together (forgive me) you can see hundreds if not thousands of fake domains. For Example:

  • newabercrombies.com
  • abercrombieandfitchoutletsale.com
  • abercromibesaleonlione.com
  • marvelousabercombie.com
  • afsonlinesale.com
  • cheapabercrombiestore.com

You get the idea. There are at least hundreds. All with the same pants, all registered in China. I can't imagine, sadly, that there's ANYTHING that Abercrombie could do about this except try to get the domains shut down - one by one.

How could your Mom possibly know this?

These are automatically generated sites, like "splogs." Splogs are spam blogs. They aren't real stores, there aren't real people behind them. They are almost like computer viruses, except they make stores. In this case, it appears that someone in China at some point designed a system that could churn out fake stores from a single database. That's why these pants keep appearing on hundreds of other sites.

Imagine if you just wanted a regular pair of pants and didn't see this pair? How could you possibly tell if this the site you want? There's no good way. Here's what you CAN do.

  1. Make sure the URL starts with https:// when you are checking out.
  2. Click the lock in your URL and see if the company name looks legit. Sadly, these can be faked also, but it's a start. HTTPS (SSL) doesn't mean "I can trust this site," it means "this conversation is private." You still might be having a private conversation with Satan.
    Check the lock
  3. Even better, if your Address Bar is green, click on it! This is a special "high trust" certificate that says you are really talking to who you think you are. This screenshot means "I am having a private conversation with a company that is KNOWN to be Twitter." Banks and big companies often use these special certs.
    Green Address Bar is good

Ultimately, you, me, Mom and the Web need to develop a better "Internet Sense of Smell." The bad guys want our credit card numbers and will do everything they can to get them, even make ten-thousand fake Abercrombie and Fitch sites.

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments! If you (or Mom) had the Web of Trust installed, this is what you would have seen when visiting an evil site like this. I'm installing this free tool on Mom's machine today.

web of trust

Good luck out there. It's a messed up web.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Why You Should Never Argue in 140 Characters or Less - Geeklist

March 22, '12 Comments [39] Posted in Blogging | Musings
Sponsored By

There is a fascinating "storify" (a list of tweets with commentary that make up a story of what happened on Twitter) by Charles Arthur about an uncomfortable back and forth on Twitter between Shanley Kane, an engineer at Basho, and Christian Sanz and Reuben Katz, the founders of Geekli.st.

UPDATE: Here is a link to Geekli.st's apology.

The nutshell is that Shanley came upon this ridiculous video (photos here) of a girl in her underwear dancing around with a Geeklist T-Shirt. According to the Geeklist site, it is an "achievement-based social portfolio builder" for developers. Programming is an intellectual pursuit and any kind of "-ism" is totally inappropriate. In this case, immature sexism is a huge turn off. It's been a week of sexism in technology on the Internets.

But this post is less about that, as we can all agree that girls dancing in their underwear is a poor way to promote programming. I want to talk about Twitter, your Customers, your Brand, and Bile.

Shanley tweeted to the founders of Geeklist a totally reasonable question.

At this point, Geeklist should have recognized what Shanley was really saying. This was a chance for them to re-notice the video in context and be reminded it should probably not exist. Instead, they replied with a non-answer answer with no recognition of the underlying question.

OK, a little dense, but here's where it goes south. Shanley, who is clearly and rightfully upset, asks that they take it down but she drops an F-bomb. Fine, she's pissed, not the point.

Boom. Stop there. You've got a customer who is upset, rightfully so, about an -ism, also a hot button. She's reaching out to you to validate her frustration AND most importantly handle your business. Every time a person reaches out to you on Twitter, it's a chance for you to put your best foot forward. This is the first impression. Get it right. You have only 140 characters.

At this point there's no turning back. It doesn't matter at this point that the video in question was made by a friend of Geeklist. It doesn't matter that Geeklist is/was a good product. What matters is that the founders were thoughtless in their response on Twitter.

Twitter is not chat, it's not IRC. And even it it was, the thing that I see companies forget over and over and over again is this. Companies need to know: You're on the Internet. Things that you say here matter and will be archived forever and repeated.

Shanley then nails it with this tweet:

This is Geeklist's last opportunity to fix this. They should watch their tone, fall on their swords and handle their business. Surprisingly (or not) they go on for two dozen more tweets. It's really hard to read. Good on Shanley for not backing down. Note Charles Arthur's commentary:

[Shanley] Kane complained about a video. [Geeklist's Christian] Sanz took offence because of how he was addressed, rather than treating it as a legitimate complaint about content. Now both he and his co-founder are subtly signaling that they will make life difficult for her and her company

Stop here. Note. You will never win an argument on Twitter. You think arguments on the Internet are hard? Counting the characters until someone invokes Hitler? Pardon me while I quote myself, via Twitter.

Acknowledge your mistakes, be kind, stay positive, respond with respect and thoughtfulness. You are in public  and you are teaching people how to treat you. You likely cannot win an argument on online, and you can never win one on Twitter.

This story is a great example about how not to manage your brand on Twitter. Of course, in this case they were also totally wrong, but trying to argue their point in 140 characters just dug the hole deeper.

Related Links

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Extending the Visual Studio 11 Web Browser Chooser and Browse With Menu to include Developer Profiles

March 21, '12 Comments [18] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC
Sponsored By

I talked about some new features that have snuck made their way into the free version of Visual Studio for Web. One of the more useful ones is the Browser Chooser that allows you to quickly launch debug sessions with different browsers from within VS. I've actually been pushing on this for about 18 months, and even blogged about it in August of 2010 in "how to change the default browser in Visual Studio programmatically with PowerShell and possibly poke yourself in the eye."

In Visual Studio 11 Beta you get a nice dropdown with all the browsers (plus the new Page Inspector).

Browser Switcher built into the toolbar

However, I got a good comment from blog reader Abhijit who said:

The browser is a welcome addition (though past versions of VS do something similar). I'd like to make one suggestion though.
I use multiple Firefox and Google Chrome profiles. One for regular browsing and another for web development/debugging.
For ex: To launch a profile named 'dev' in Firefox, you'd use
firefox -p dev --no-remote in the shortcut/command line
This ensures that I don't mess up my history/profile/cookies etc with my development activities. However, the feature you've described launches the browser with no command line parameters.
So, is there a way I can add/update/customize the parameters used to launch the different browsers? And if not, is too late to suggest this as a feature request for VS11?

This is a not only a great tip, but a very useful bug/feature request. The tip is to use different profiles for when developing so you aren't accidentally combining your history and cookies for development with your personal stuff.

The feature is interesting because he wants to know how to customize the Browser Chooser. Digging into it, it turns out that it's totally possible but totally not discoverable. That means there's an opportunity to make this feature WAY WAY more useful.

First, here's the way to change it today on the Beta. Then I'll suggest a possible change to the feature to make it easier.

That list is initially auto-populated with the browsers we find on your system. You can add to the list with the "Browse With..." menu that you get when you right click on an .ASPX file in Visual Studio. Ah! But there's where the trouble starts. You can currently only see that menu when you right click on an ASPX page. This is great for Web Forms folks, but if you don't have an .ASPX file in your project then you're out of luck.

So, for now, add an ASPX file (you can delete it later) and right click:

Browse With is only visible when right-clicking on an ASPX file

That brings you to the list of browsers in the Browse With dialog:

All your browsers listed in the Browse With dialog

At this point you can add your dev profile browser. (It would be nice if you could edit also, but you can't today.) Here I'm adding Firefox with a "dev" profile. Note that I'm naming it differently from existing browsers.

Adding a Firefox Dev Profile with "firefox.exe -p dev"

Here's my updated Browse With using the new Firefox dev profile. You could do with this Chrome also if you like.

Browse With showing my new Firefox Dev Profile

Now my browser chooser menu in the toolbar is updated with the my new browser. You can put whatever you like in that menu.

Menu in VS dropped down showing my new Firefox Dev Profile

Ok that's today with the Visual Studio 11 Beta. Here's a Paint.NET proposal of what I'd like to see. It'd be nice for the "Browse With..." to appear inline in the drop down menu. Having in the Right Click menu is too confusing.

MOCKUP - Browse With Proposal with added menu - photoshop

This is just a Paint.NET but you get the idea. Thoughts?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by SherWeb

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.