Rants of a Digital Bard

OMG! Who gave this idiot a blog?

Moving my blog

I have installed WordPress on my own web host and I’m moving my blog…

Please visit http://www.digibard.org/blog for new updates.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Geek stuff | , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting some new toys

Okay, so I’ve been whining to the wife for some time about needing to get some new equipment for my video business.  And we’ve finally worked things in the budget so that I can get a few things… but with a world of possibility, what do I buy?

First thing I need is a polorizing filter.  I have an ND filter that is nice, but it doesn’t cut the mustard.  Second thing I need is a backup battery and charger.  I’ve decided to go third-party rather than spend an extra $70 on a genuine Canon battery.

I have been desperately wanting to set up a small ‘studio’ in the house for doing green screen shots, and last week I bought a bunch of equipment at some thrift stores and a few cheap lighting fixtures at Home Depot.  I ordered a set of 3 Muslin backdrops (white, black and green) from eBay.  What I still need to get is some light bulbs designed for photography, so that’s the third item on my list.

I also found an inexpensive dolly for my tripod (not a track dolly), so that’s number 4.  But I really need a decent tripod.  The problem is that “decent” means $200 or more.  Which is more than half of my budget… It’s on my list, but I have a star next to it which means it’s not critical.

Also on my list is an external monitor for my camera.  The little LCD is nice, but it only shows 90% of what’s in the shot and I have some clips I’ve had to lose because of what I couldn’t see in the LCD.  LCD’s made for video are around $300 which is way out of my budget, but I did find a nice 7-inch wide-screeen LCD for $89 that is for a car visor.  So that’s on my list.

I need wide angle and telephoto lenses, so those are on my list.

Of course, I have a long list of wants, but this covers the current budget.  I desperately need a DSLR and I prefer to get one with Video.  So I’m hoping to save up for a Nikon D5000 or a Canon 7D.

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Geek stuff, Stock Footage & Photography, Videography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Useful FFMPEG command lines

These are some useful FFMPEG commands I use quite often:

Copy the H.264 stream from an MTS file into a MOV file and discard the audio:

ffmpeg -i myfile.mts -vcodec copy -an -y myfile.mov

Re-encode a clip into a Quicktime MOV file using the MotionJPEG codec and discard any audio:

ffmpeg -i myfile.avi -vcodec mjpeg -b 76k -an -y myfile.mov

Re-encode a video and audio into an Xvid file compatible with my DVD player:

ffmpeg -i myfile.mov -vcodec mpeg4 -vtag xvid -b 1008k -acodec libmp3lame -ab 64k -y myfile.divx

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Geek stuff, Programming, Videography | Leave a comment

Get your name in space!

NASA is launching a “space ship” outside of our solar system to investigate what they hope is an “Earth Link” planet in our Galaxy.

Mounted on the space ship will be a data DVD which will have the names of over 1 million people and their 500 word or less individual messages.

Visit http://namesinspace.seti.org/ for more info!

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff | , , | Leave a comment

Perspiration from Inspiration

I have been very busy the past few weeks getting ready for a real day job (finally!).  So I’ve been working over time to create new footage to put online as well as getting into the Stock Photography scene.

As for my new job, I am a web application developer at Farmer’s Insurance.  After my first week, it’s been good.  I like the people and the facility so far.

Here’s a YouTube clip from some backgrounds I created:

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff | , , , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve got that stupid song from the old Heinz ketchup commercial in my head…

I’ve been selling off my precious stock of computer parts (the stuff I’ve been using to feed my Dust Farm) in order to get enough money to buy parts for a system upgrade.

My beautiful and selfless sweetheart got me a NewEgg gift certificate and I was able to order parts for my upgrade. Woot!

The stuff should arrive today and I’m giddy and don’t know what to do with myself.

In the meantime, I’ve been pretty busy working on new footage for my Pond5 account:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

I would like to thank…

the Academy for this…  oops, can’t use that speech yet.

So, I would like to thank the “mostly” good folks on Craigslist for confirming that AVG AntiVirus version 8 is a total piece of crap.  And for turning me on to the free Avast AV software which does appear, as they pointed out, to run more smoothly and use WAY fewer system resources.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

Need to upgrade my computer, desperately…

A little over 3 years ago I upgraded my computer to the latest stuff available, Pentium 4 processor with Hyper-Thread technology, two gigabytes of dual channel RAM, dual 200 gig ATA133 hard drives, a 256MB AGP video card…  it rocked!  Today it’s trash.  I see the same parts selling on eBay for $100.

I do a LOT of work in Adobe After Effects, 3D Studio Max and other 3D applications.  And it takes my computer an average of 4 to 6 hours to render 25 seconds of video.  That’s 4 to 6 hours that I can’t use my computer (or it extends the time to render).

I can keep my hard drives, but I have to replace my motherboard, processor, memory and video card if I want to do a decent upgrade.  Roughly $200.  $200 that I don’t have….sigh.

For the geeks out there, this is what I selected for my upgrade:

  • GIGABYTE GA-M78SM-S2H motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Brisbane 2.5GHz processor
  • G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS 256MB DDR2 PCI-E x16 Video Card 

The motherboard actually has a decent built in video card, so I’m gonna use that at first, then upgrade to the PCIe video card later.  Total is $245 shipped.  Now I just gotta find someone willing to give me a good price for a used kidney.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

Lookin’ for CD/DVD burning software…

When I got my very first CD burner, it came with Adaptec’s CD burning software.  Which was “okay”, but there were features I wanted it didn’t support.  My second drive came with Nero.  AHA!  Finally some software that supported what I wanted.

For the next several years each time Nero upgraded their software I paid for the upgrade.  But starting with version 7, there wasn’t really anything NEW for actually burning.  They just kept adding more and more multi-media related crud (video editing, photo slide-shows, etc.).  Nero used to be a nice compact burning program, now it’s among the worst form of bloatware.  So I haven’t upgraded since version 6.

However, version 6 doesn’t support dual sided DVD burning, something I have been able to live without until now.  I’m totally disgusted by the bloat of Nero 8, but I figured I’d upgrade and just not install the crap I don’t want.

Now, as I mentioned before, I’ve been a loyal Nero user and have PAID for upgrades for years.  Each upgrade was $20 (when I upgraded from version 4 to 6, the price was still just $20).  However, the “special discount” they are offering me to upgrade from version 6 to 8 is $64…  A whopping $15 off the retail price for an UPGRADE.  And only because I am such a loyal customer.  I’d expect to pay $40, $20 to version 7, then $20 to version 8, but $64 when I don’t even want most of the crap that’s in the package?

Do they at least have a cheaper version with JUST the CD/DVD burning?  No.  So, to the people at Nero I say “good-bye!”  I will be moving on to something less bloated and I will no longer be a loyal customer, nor will I recommend your software any longer.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Don't get me started..., Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment

I hate computers…

Sometimes, I really do.  Finally got my computer up and running and WHAM, another problem.

For the past few years I’ve been running my system on 1 GB of ram.  When I originally built it, I bought 2 GB’s, but the original version of World of Warcraft crashed constantly when I used 2 GB (or so I thought).  So I pulled half of it out, meaning to put it back after some testing, but I never got around to testing and just kept the system that way.

So, after rebuilding everything, I decided “HEY! let me put that other 1 GB that I paid for years ago into the system!”  Crash and burn.  Getting a lot of STOP errors caused by W32k.sys, so I look it up and it points to a memory issue.  So… I download the bootable ISO from memTest86+, run it and I’m getting memory errors.  Ugh.. I wish I would have investigated this 3 years ago.  Fortunately, the memory is high-end Crucial with their lifetime warranty, so I’ll be putting that to the test.  So now I gotta figure out which chip or chips are bad and return them.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Geek stuff, Tech | Leave a comment