I am a media geek. I do a lot of work with computers and photography and video… and the odd bit of audio work. As I am older I find that each project requires a ‘rethink stage’. Even though I may have successfully completed the very same process a few months ago … I need to start at square one again to figure it out. I now take pictures and write notes to refer to later. That has been a great help when I remember that I made those notes in the first place! 😉
This week I’ve been working on putting some old 8 mm films from 1959 and 1962 into digital format. This involves watching them as they are played by an old 8mm projector and recording off of a screen using my video camera. I then use a video editing program (Premiere Elements is my current program of choice) to remove the projector noise, clean up the colour and smooth out the old movie jerkiness. The last stage is the tricky part. These days there are so many different ways that people watch their movies. It amazes me that I can create a DVD using one type of file – easily watched in DVD players. But then using a different format the same footage doesn’t fit on a DVD – in this case the format that can be watched on other computers. I also put a lot of footage up on YouTube. That way if it is something a family wants to share they have a way of doing that clear around the world either publicly for anyone or with special settings for only those they wish to share with. It really is quite amazing.
Today’s challenge was attempting to record an old cassette tape (a friend’s uncle singing some old country tunes) into digital format. Last week I had thought I had done that by using my old fashioned honking huge stereo system and a laptop. But turned out as I was doing the final edits I had actually been recording the noise from the room/speakers as well as the mic in. My crinkling of caramel wrappers was my first clue. Another friend had an old SONY portable stereo system with headphone jacks that I tried again today. One program just wouldn’t pick up the sound without way too much feedback. Plus there were about four different variables each with four or five choices that I really didn’t know enough about. How does that math go … that would make 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 possible combinations to try out. Just when I thought it wasn’t going to be possible I noticed another program on my computer that was part of a DVD player app I’d purchased a couple of years ago. (See … here is the part where I don’t even remember what is on my computer!) I had already sent my friend a message saying … not going to work… when a last ditch effort to plug everything all in again using this other app worked.
It was a mindbender flicking from the 1959 old movies … to the old cassette recorded tunes … to today’s technology gizmos. The move from analog movies and sound recordings to digital was profound in how it changed our abilities to edit and create with media. There were many school year finales copied in our house the old analog way – meaning an hour long tape took an hour to make a copy. We used to hook up two vcr’s to our master vcr and felt we had super powers to make two copies at a time! We would run copies through the night getting up whenever one of us stirred to go downstairs and reset a new pair of copies. Having two teachers in the house meant 60 to 70 tapes being created for each of our students each June … and usually in the same weekend!! Crazy times!
Going back even farther I love thinking about our first school editing project in which we connected two video cameras to one copy vcr with a boom box as a third connection to carry the sound. We’d play one video camera with a tape playing the footage we wanted first – while rewinding the other camera to line up another segment to play in the second part – switching on the fly when the first camera finished playing what we wanted. We’d have to then rewind that first camera (or fast forward) to the part of the tape we wanted next. We would do that over and over to fill about half an hour. We had a ‘play by play’ sheet that listed the tape names and the times we needed. That doesn’t even account for the sound that we were also playing into the vcr if we wanted music over a particular section. It all had to be done live – in a row. It sure led to some hilarious scrambles to get it all on time.
So these days of ‘drag that video clip here’ – and then ‘drag that audio’ underneath – and cut anything out you wish with a click of your mouse – or move anything with a click of the mouse still seems like magic to me!! And don’t even get me started on the special effects, titles and repair tools that are part of it all.
I wonder what my granddaughters will be using when they are up to jobs like these? I truly cannot even imagine the possibilities! It is fun trying though.