Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Ol' Windows

Man, is that something I never expected to type.

So I was in a recording studio with Flying Lab Sound Designer/Director/Engineer Jaclyn Schumate today. Jaclyn booked Seattle's Pure Audio, which was run by a stellar group of people and were incredibly understand and generous, going so far as to include delivered lunch and regular coffee runs as part of the overall service; I got to watch really talented actors (including a few friends) perform lines Chris Pramas and I had written; I got to sing one of my favorite shanties for the game. A good, if lengthy, day. The actors were amazing, their improvisations were better than anything I'd written, everyone seemed to have a great time.

Early that morning, I thought I had a brilliant idea, truly I did: To use my little snapshotty digital camera to record short little web interviews with the voice actors along with some video of them performing in the studio. I had a tripod, after all. And since I was bringing my MacBook, I'd be able to empty the little camera when it was filled up with .avi files. No problem!

And then with the problems. Not with the actors, or the recording of audio, but with my precious side project, the thing justifying my presence as more than just the guy saying "Couldn't she punch that second 'GYARRGHH!' a little more?" Unfortunately for my heart, which belongs to Apple--as opposed to my head, which tends to line up more with Microsoft--that problem seemed to lie in the MacBook.

My 2-year-old MacBook automatically tries to download the images from the camera. It used to try and use the proprietary Fuji software, but I set it to use iPhoto and that seemed to work fine in Hawai'i. And sure enough, after a couple of hours in the studio the camera was full. The camera and MacBook instantly made friends, and soon the laptop contained all the photos I'd taken that morning, as well as leftover action movies of our cat Remo chasing a laser pointer and my first voice actor interview of the day with former Pirates of the Burning Sea producer John Scott Tynes. So far so good.

Three more interviews, time to empty (I only have a 1GB card in the Fuji). I hook up the camera, the Mac loads up iPhoto, I click "Import," and...nothin'. For like, five minutes. Then the program shuts down, though it still indicates there are videos on the camera.

I have several minutes left on the camera, and reckon I can fit at least one more interview. Maybe something screwy is going on that will be fixed by recording more, I inexplicably reason.

This time, some success. The camera spits up a single photo and one more voice actor interview, strangely the third one I'd done and not the second. From there on out, for the rest of the day, no dice. "Import." "Preparing to import..." "Three items to import." "Import." "Preparing to import..." "Three items to import." "Import." "Preparing to import..." "Three items to import."

I ended up managing to cram the last interviews into less than four minutes, which fit on the camera. And I thought, for the first time in many months, "I'll be Windows can fix this." Yes, Windows XP, the once-maligned-but-now-we-realize-how-good-we-had-it version. I got home from the studio, walked up to my 4-year-old desktop PC, and said "Surprise me." Well, I figuratively said that by hooking up the USB cable. Then, in what was in fact no surprise at all, I saw the Fuji camera as just another drive I could open in the My Computer explorer window.

I opened it. The files were inside it. I dragged them to a folder on my desktop. They copied in about three minutes. I unhooked the camera, put the video files on a flash drive, and will now use a similar procedure to move the files onto the Mac where I can (hopefully) edit everything into something that will appear on the PotBS website.

Why couldn't I do the same thing on the Mac I did on my PC? I have no idea. I thought Macs invented that deal where whatever you've got hooked up or plugged into your computer appears on the desktop. I thought that was why it was a freakin' desktop. Instead, the Mac keeps forcing me to open a program that clearly doesn't want to move video from my camera to my laptop. I close the program down, but the camera doesn't appear as a peripheral or anything.

My point? Macs are like older, overprotective siblings who do everything for you so you won't put your eye out, kid, while you're playing with all that fancy whizbangery (and I do appreciate that whizbangery). PCs are like younger siblings who borrow your car, destroy it, and force you to rebuild the thing yourself, learning how it works in the process. Either way, you have to live with 'em both.

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