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A Gumbo of Pastiches: Trains, Planes, and Videos

1. Video


In pushing the media around, Jon Reed and I recorded a podcast on Friday, September 3, talking about TechEd, creativity and audio/video techniques.  Back in the day “AV” was the crew that worked on the 35mm film strip and the reel-to-reel recorder (or the phonograph, more likely).  I thought for this dialogue I would publish it to YouTube as an audio recording with a set of overlaid images.


My first take was to try VLC (VideoLAN), as it has a nice set of visualizations; I’d play the audio, add in visualizations, record that with a screen capture program (still getting familiar with Camtasia), then combine the 2 with an edit program.  As it turns out, VLC writes the images directly to the video display somehow, as I could not seem to record what I saw with the capture software.  Changing hardware acceleration, the usual workaround for this, made the visualization disappear.


My second take was to search for independent visualization software. One of the first I found is called “sndpeek” and promised “real-time audio visualization.”  It looks awesome but didn’t work for me in this round since it would take WAV input but not MP3, and I recorded to MP3.  Next time, perhaps I will try with a WAV file.  The waterfall images of frequency across time were beautiful and entrancing.


The third try was with audio software called “foobar2000“.  What a great name!  Unlike VLC, the visualizations were generated in black and white, but I figured, fine, I’ll go for the Outer Limits look.  With this program, I could display 2 visualizations simultaneously, so I arranged bars and waveforms top and bottom of a 640×480 rectangle, then hit play while recording with Camtasia.  My plan was to combine them directly.  As it turned out, there was a lot I didn’t know.


The podcast runs for about 20 minutes, meaning I had to wait that long until stopping the recording.  And of course, my attention wandered, generating a few seconds of dead at at the end. No matter, I’d take care of that in the edit process.  Of to the studio.  Step 1: add video track; step 2: add audio track; step 3: mute audio on video track (screen capture had audio recording, but poor quality, meaning a really strange echo effect; again, maybe an idea for later).  Seems feasible; now render to a file for uploading.  I tried different formats, with one generating 200 MB.  Very nice quality, but a long wait for upload, and my DSL was acting flaky.  I ended up with a 75MB fairly good rendition in WMV format, after trying MP4, Mt2s, MOV, etc.  Uploaded it to YouTube.  Rejected.  I forgot, 15 minutes is the clip duration limit.


Back to the studio, figuring I’d just cut the file into 2 parts and re-upload.   The first half came out easily; the second half not so easy.  While I thought I had the audio and video synchronized, I shot myself in the foot somewhere by clipping out part of on of them.  The spliced result looked like the old elementary school film strip where the phonograph was half of a track behind.  Not good.  After several times back and forth, I think I got it.  Then, back to the upload screen, now with 2 files under 40MB each.  The ISP line seemed to be back to normal, but by then, hours had gone by and I had 2 clips, with imperfect resolution, though with a second generation (or is it third? I’ve lost track) audio that should still be in stereo.  It looks like it to me, from the sound waves.  Enjoy: 




2.  2010 Clue Train (wiki page)


I’m on board the ClueTrain for EMEA TechEd this year, though it doesn’t look as many yet as the first year I joined (2008).  I didn’t get there last year as I was in Phoenix.  I’m working on the initial part of my logistics, in order to be able to get on the train.  I’ll be flying into Frankfurt by Friday morning, not sure if I’ll stay there until the train Saturday or head somewhere else.  Suggestions?  I looked at Mannheim, and at Heidelberg, as possible Friday tourist destinations, each not far from where the ClueTrain will travel.


When I searched the Deutsche Bahn site  for the train, I did not find it by looking for Munich to Berlin, only from Stuttgart to Berlin.  But when I looked at the details, it does say it starts in Munich (Munchen).  Strange search algorithm. I wonder whose code they run?


For the next few days (till 12-Sep-2010), DB has a “sale” on 5 and 10 day German RailPasses, but only for non-residents.  162 Euro for 5 days, plus a small delivery charge.  See:

I’m not sure where I’m staying in Berlin yet.  I must get my plans moving, or I’ll be way, way far off I fear, from the beaten track.  Suggestions?  Where to go, where not to go?


3.  SCNotties


A few thumbnails:






Who’s missing?  Like, 2 million other SDNers?  You don’t have to make it as complicated as I did.  A simple point and shoot will work.  But no video, no recognition!

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    • I hope I don’t give the impression that I am unhappy, or unproductive.  My community contributions should belie that.

      Do you have a community recognition video posted online you’d like to share?  You have until 30-Sep-2010.  See the wiki (SCNotties or Video Choice) for more details.


  • or your productivity. I was simply stating that using a superior tool would give you the opportunity to raise the level of both.

    I am sorry if my suggestion was somehow construed as questioning anything, aside from your choice of operating systems, as that was not my intent.

    Wm. Marti Green

  • my preference has always been Autobahn to Deutsche Bahn, but this may not be sustainable in the long run, even though Amtrak has killed all the joys of rail travel in me.
    • Um, that’s nice, Greg.  Do you have a link to a video of yourself you’d like to share?  I guess I meandered away from the main theme of *community recognition videos*.