Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Movie Editing Frustrations

I have never been so frustrated with my computer. The past two or three weeks has been a constant battle to try and edit a video for a friend. I've used Adobe Premiere 6.0, Premiere Pro 1.0, and Pinnacle Studio Pro all in vain. It's one of those things where you think you'll fix the issue in another 20 minutes, then another hour, then by the end of the day, then by the end of the week, then you want to kill your computer. I'm sure you all empathize greatly.

Background: friend sends me a DVD formatted for DVD players (e.g. .VOB files) rather than a data DVD (this would be analagous to the difference between a music CD-R that plays in any cd player and a data CD-r that only plays on a computer, he sent me the former). So, this means that I need to rip the DVD just to get at the data I want (the video). Of course, this video was originally in VHS format so when my friend digitized it he had the option of making a data DVD (he just chose not to, so he chose wrong). I used dvddecrypt to rip the DVD (it sounds all very illegal, but remember these are fricking home videos). DVDDecrypter ripped it to MPEG-2 and seemed to do a fine job, e.g. the MPEG-2 videos look comparable to the original DVD video (of course, since the original was VHS, that's not saying much) and the video plays back fine in Windows Media Player and Winamp.

Problem: I load these converted MPEG-2 videos into my video editing program. I notice immediately that the monitor window in Premiere plays the video fine but as soon as I add the video to the timeline view, the sequence window playback is horrible -- choppy, audio is not aligned to video, etc. I check on google about this and it seems that this is at least halfway normal. The sequence window shows a rendering of the video while the monitor window shows the original. OK, so I try a simple splice and edit on like a 30 second clip. I export it first into the default AVI format in Premiere. I load the AVI up into Windows Media Player and there are three problems: (1) video and audio are not synced -- the lag is inconsistent so it is not just a matter of moving the audio timeline to sync with the video; (2) video skips and replays portions over again (e.g. think cat sequence in original Matrix; (3) video is choppy.

At this point I think, OK, weird -- perhaps an issue with the export encoder. I setup like over 50 experiments this weekend to get to the bottom of this but to no avail. I try things like converting the MPEG-2 files into a different format before loading them into premiere (no dice), I try using 11 different encoders to export short 30 second edited sequence (no dice), I try using Adobe Media Encoders (separate file menu from normal export menu) (no dice), I try an old version of Adobe Premiere (6.0) (no dice), I try Pinnacle Studio Pro (no dice), I try Windows Movie Maker -- Aha! This seems to work. The Microsoft Paint of movie editing programs seems to work. Why is this? Argh. Frustration. However, Windows Movie Maker isn't much help because (1) it forces you to render things in .wmv format (i wonder why?) and (2) it is the Microsoft Paint of movie editing programs (e.g. no functionality!).

And only 2 weeks until deadline. Why me?

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