Archive for the ‘computers and tech’ Category

If you listen to some people, high def  is the fabulous future. Yeah, we were promised flying cars and holograms, but this is what we got instead. This crappy, crappy consolation prize.

Yeah, I may have used high def cameras as a cheaper alternative to film. Yeah, it’s better than standard def, but it still isn’t good enough for a theatrical release. So it is the camera of false hopes, but that isn’t why I hate it. With that camera, an up-and-comer can shoot something on the cheap and learn and maybe make something good enough to get the right eyes on it. That’s a good thing.

No, the reasons I hate high def are much better than just a petty resentment of a cheap camera.

Reason number one: It’s ugly.

Seriously. Ugly images. Mostly of people’s faces. Is there anyone who looks good like that? Anyone? High def sees more than the eye sees, and then throws it up at you.

Reason number two: It’s a government conspiracy.

It’s a long story, in which the power hungry censor happy jackasses at the FCC, in an effort to keep control over their entire little empire, forced television stations to switch to high def. Remember when they handed out those crappy digital converters, so you could keep using your old TV, and there was that whole ridiculous gift certificate program, and the commercials, and they had to delay because making most TVs suddenly obsolete turned out to be a bigger project than they thought?


Reason number three: high def ruins movies.

I watched Enemy at the Gates on a high def television at my aunt’s house. It looked like a BBC video production. It was flat and colorless, as though all the post production coloring had been stripped away. And taking out the color, I swear, made the acting worse. It was the most awful thing I have ever seen.

It’s a setting thing, but even when the darn things are set right, the movie experience is ruined. When a film is prepared for the theaters, it has to be detailed enough that, thirty feet high, it still communicates. That level of detail on a forty inch screen is too much detail. Because we don’t want to see every leaf on the tree in the background. The eye needs to be guided and controlled, and some things aren’t meant to be seen clearly. Old Hollywood sets, for example, that end in forced perspective paintings.

Why does high def have to ruin them? Why is it so mean?

Why can’t I have a flying car instead?


Last week, I talked about how much RAM I want (the answer is: all of the RAM. I want all of it everywhere) and if you spend enough time on tech forums, you will hear (through your eyes as you read) someone say, “You don’t need more RAM. You will never use it.”

So let me clarify with an analogy. Your computer is like a rock smasher. If that were a thing, and if smashed rocks were desirable. The processor does the actual smashing. The hard drive is the quarry, where the big chunks of rock are undisturbed, and your RAM is like the conveyor belt to the smasher. The rocks there are about to be smashed, but the smasher hasn’t gotten to them yet. If you check email or write documents, you are smashing little rocks. A megabyte here, a megabyte there. But if you are editing a film, each file is a gig or two. So you need something stronger to carry those big rocks.

For The Making of Iridium Consequence, we shot seventeen hours of footage. It takes up 250 gigs of hard drive space. Compared to your average document, that’s the difference between gravel and Stone Mountain. Which is in Georgia, and is one giant chunk of granite. Really big, people. Really.

So I will use it. Oh, I will.

For an editing computer, you want a fast processor. But the hard drive turns out to be not that big of a deal. Sure, you could get a terabyte, and you could edit from that, but with enough RAM, you can edit from an external drive and not see any difference. And the great thing about the external drive is, when you are done, you unplug it and put in the shelf and you still have space to play World of Warcraft. For example.

For video editing, you may want to get a video card. You don’t need it, but it can be very nice to set up an array of monitors to work from, so that you can see the whole picture, not just a little corner of the screen.

So what did I end up getting? A Sony Viao, F series, with an i7 processor, 6 gigs of RAM, and a 640 gig hard drive. I’ll tell you if I like it after I take it for a good long spin. For some rock crushing. Cause analogies are awesome.

There isn’t just one filmmaking computer. There are many. The sound can be recorded to a computer, if you are shooting on a camera that records to a hard drive, you need another onset computer for data dumping. The script is written on a computer. The movie is edited on a computer, and maybe the special effects and CGI are built on another.

I don’t know of any screenwriting software anywhere that needs a powerhouse system behind it, and if anyone invents any, that software better do a whole lot more than just crunch words. I am interested, however, in when the I-pad is going to pick up that function, because I could see myself writing on the go with an I-pad. But until the I-pad gets there, I am not personally interested in a separate system for screenwriting.

But lets talk about the computer everyone is interested in: the editing machine. And let’s get the Mac out of the way first. The Mac is great. Yes. But it is expensive. Moving on.

When you go out shopping for a computer, they have all these handy classifications. Business, gaming, entertainment. Video editing doesn’t fall naturally into any of these categories, but might end up being somewhere between a gaming and an entertainment computer.

Video editing software is powerhouse stuff, because video files, especially hi def, or heaven forbid, 4k, are some of the biggest files a computer will ever have to handle. So your computer needs the tools to handle those big files, which means lots of RAM and lots of processor.

As far as I am concerned, I can’t have enough RAM. The HP Envy 15 comes with a possible 16 gigs of RAM, in four slots, and that makes my mouth water. To make space for all that RAM, it doesn’t have an internal optical drive, which is where the future of data storage already is. I use thumb drives where I used to burn CDs. But it isn’t where the future of watching movies on your laptop is (so what? I watch movies on my Blu Ray player) or the future of burning a DVD of the rough cut of your movie so you can mail it to the composer is.

Unfortunately, The HP Envy 15 has issues with the video and with overheating. It’s a first generation configuration, and technology this new is bound to have problems. But the second generation, with an external Blu Ray burner, is my new dream computer.