Me and video

A repeated problem I have is that, whatever I do, I like to do it really really well. Or I don’t really feel like doing it at all.

For example, with photography, I’m not happy with a cute little P&S digital camera. Or a cheesy editor that might come packaged with a camera or DVD burner. Or normal lights. I like knowing how to use all of the fancy little details of advanced software and hardware when required, even if I’m just taking pictures of my brother’s kids or proving that you can take a road bike on dirt by riding a few miles and taking a snapshot.

Except I’m not made of money and, even if I were, I’m also stingy. Thus, I tend to be happiest with pro-level gear past it’s shelf date instead of prosumer or consumer gear. Or assembling what I need out of pro-gear as cheaply as possible, even if that means that I’m using something in a way that it’s not necessarily intended. This also gives me interesting conversational points.

I spent a good amount of time doing 3D graphics last century. This started with vague attempts after seeing movies like Tron (and not realizing that it was really a miracle of backlit rotoscoped animation more than anything else) when I could barely program organized BASIC, moving on to real 3D software, and eventually taking some coursework on the subject when I was in college.

Which I then failed to find a job doing. And that’s fine, because I’d also rather do my own artistic idea for fun instead of getting paid to do a lame implementation of somebody else’s idea. Also, the real cool stuff happened last century… there’s a big difference between designing the Model T or VW Beetle and working on the next Honda Civic.

Oddly, 3D is easier than 2D video in many ways. So, while I was able to do video by rendering 3D animation, that’s pretty much it. If I did multiple scenes, I’d often just do a quick jump-cut by outputting individual frames. On a few occasions, I did some real video editing with the real software and I was fairly pleased with the results.

But you can get quite decent 3D results these days with Blender. And that’s open-source software. Before the days of Blender, there was a bunch of awfully good 3D packages to choose from for less money than the hardcore stuff used in Hollywood. On the other hand, I’ve tried to find decent video editing software that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and it doesn’t seem to exist.

I think the real problem is that the only 3D software that really makes sense to your average amateur dabbler is Poser and Bryce. Which means that everything else ends up being fairly hardcore in design, such that even the lower end stuff ends up being fairly good.

Video is completely the opposite. To your average user, video editing is stringing together a bunch of clips into a sequence, with transitions and titles. And you can spend a lot of time adding features to video editors that impresses those users without actually adding useful flexible features, just more automated effects. Thus, I’ve never found anything that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money that looked like it might work better than a tool that strings things together.

Also, I’ve helped out on movie sets. So I kinda know what’s required to make a piece of video turn out right.

Which is why I generally don’t do much with video.