Questions About ReBoot
- What is ReBoot?
ReBoot was an animated television series created by Mainframe Entertainment, Inc.
about the little people who live in your computer
and make it work. It was, among other things, the world's first
completely computer animated series. More information can be found on the
Official ReBoot Website.
- Who is Mainframe Entertainment?
Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. is a
CGI animation company located in
Canada. Some of the other television series they have animated have included Beast Wars, Action Man,
Spider-Man, Scary Godmother, and Zixx.
Questions About Video Editing
- What do you use to create your videos?
Initially, I created my videos on a home-built system.
- 1.4 GHz AMD Athlon processor
- 512 MB memory
- ASUS A7V333 motherboard (4-in-1 4.46)
- PNY GeForce 4 Ti 4400 (Detonator 43.45)
- Soundblaster Audigy
- I use a 60 GB partition of an 80 GB IDE drive to do all my editing, and a 250 GB drive to hold my
- Windows 2000 (SP3), DirectX 9.0a
Early in the creation of the Dot video, I started my big conversion project (when I converted all my MPEG and
DivX AVI source video into DV AVI). During this I started to
have problems accessing DV AVI and uncompressed AVI. This
turned out to be symptomatic of the imminent failure of not one but TWO hard drives (luckily my Windows
is on a 40 GB RAID-1 array so was unaffected). This was the last straw in a long line of hardware problems (I
can't see ever building a system for myself again), I purchased the following
- 2.8 GHz Pentium 4, 800 MHz FSB (Hyperthreaded)
- 2 GB memory
- Intel D875PBZ motherboard
- ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256 MB 8x AGP
- 160 GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA hard drive
- 200 GB 7200 RPM ATA-100 hard drive (to hold source video>
- Samsung 52x24x52x16x CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive
- Soundblaster Audigy
- Windows XP Professional
I have also added an internal 250 GB hard drive and an external 200 GB hard drive through the USB 2 port for
additional video storage, since 200 GB isn't
enough to hold all the ReBoot episodes in DV AVI format. Don't even ask me how much the whole setup cost. So far
this is an expensive hobby... This system is dedicated to editing and
gaming and nothing else. My original system I have salvaged as a general Office/Quicken/etc. computer and file
I use the following software:
- Is Pinnacle Studio a steaming pile of poop?
- Could you elaborate on that?
Well, OK. Although some people are perfectly happy with it, I personally find Studio to be absurdly temperamental
and buggy. A few examples:
- Out of 19 source MPEGs, Studio could read only 8. Out of 13 DivX AVIs, Studio could read ZERO. Out of 16
episodes converted from the season 3 DVDs, Studio could read 13. By using
TMPGEnc and VirtualDub I finally managed to get Studio to read all them, though some required a great deal
of tweaking and experimentation.
These source videos all work just fine in Media Player, DivX Player, TMPGEnc, VirtualDub,
and every other software I've tried them.
- Studio occasionally inserts short (1-10 frame) gaps between some of the clips. I know it's not something
I'm doing, because Studio doesn't allow the placing of clips with gaps between them.
- Clips that have been slowed down behave strangely. Transitions sometimes don't work, it often hiccups if
I go from one slowed clip to another (I need a normal-speed clip in between), I get video noise, it sometimes
inserts frames from a different part of the video, etc.
- Slowed clips often look jerky. A frame-by-frame analysis shows that Studio doesn't slow the clips evenly.
For example, if I have a clip that I wish to cut to 50% speed I expect Studio to simply double each frame
so you see Frame1-Frame1-Frame2-Frame2-Frame3-Frame3-... That's not what happens. Some frames are doubled.
Some are left alone. Some are tripled. So you might get Frame1-Frame1-Frame2-Frame3-Frame3-Frame3-..., which
looks jerky on replay.
- My titles often disappear. I make a title card, save it, but when I reload the
project, the title card
is replaced by a blank, red card and I have to reload the title manually.
- (Probably related to the above) Studio can't keep temporary files straight from one project to another.
If I'm working on a project and I load another one, the new project will have some of its title cards
replaced by titles from the first project, necessitating manually reloading them. (Tip: When you create
a title, Studio sometimes assigns it a name like "_x1234". Make sure to erase the and leave the
name of the title blank.)
- Trimmed audio clips (where, for example, I want to start a video in the middle of a song) don't keep
the same trimming when I reload the project. Even though the timestamp is the same, it starts at a
different point in the song.
- Video that plays cleanly in Media Player often has video noise in Studio
- It regularly takes 2-3 attempts to render a clean MPEG (my record is 9 so far); it takes 5-7 to render
in RealVideo. The failed renders have video corruption or missing scenes. I've finally learned to render
to DV AVI then use that as a master to create the versions I post on the site.
- When in storyboard view, it frequently will scroll to a point on the storyboard well past the end of my
video, always in response to some action on my part (saving the video, adding a clip, deleting a clip). I
scroll back, take an action, and it does it again. So I scroll back... You get the idea.
- Studio sometimes just...stops. If I wait 5-10 minutes, it will come back. Sometimes there is disk activity
or CPU activity, sometimes there isn't. Other applications work fine, so I'll go surf the web or something
until it decided to come back. No idea what causes this. Patience is not just a virtue, it is an absolute
necessity when working with Studio.
- Deleting clips on the storyboard view often deletes the overlay titles as well, even if that track is locked.
Double-clicking on the storyboard to edit a clip always brings up the overlay title instead; if I wanted to
edit the title, that's what I would have clicked on.
You get the idea. I would say literally 50%-65% of my time on a video is fighting with Studio or fixing the
mistakes it introduced. Pinnacle's advice is not to use MPEGs as source video but to use DV AVI. I've converted
all my source video to DV AVI, but it's a low-compression format so it requires a teensy bit more space.
Each episode requires about 225 MB as a VCD-quality MPEG, but requires 4.5 GB as a DV AVI (which is automatically
DVD quality). All told, the episodes take up about 240 GB of hard drive space.
To be fair, when Studio is working, it's a sheer joy. I found it very intuitive and it has all the features I
want. To paraphrase my Dot video, "it's my hell, it's my dream, it's nothing in between".
Obviously it's not as powerful as a $500 product, but then again it also doesn't cost $500. I like it better
than Ulead VideoStudio, which I used for about 30 minutes before dumping it. The latter was like a Playskool
product -- you know, "Baby's First Non-Linear Editing Software".
- What is a cut? a fade? a dissolve?
These are terms for transitions between clips. A cut is an abrupt transition from one clip to another; one frame
is from Clip A and the next is from Clip B. A fade is where Clip A fades out to a black screen, then Clip B fades
in. A dissolve means that Clip A fades directly to Clip B.
- What is a render?
It means to create the final video. As you edit, your preview copy is not a real movie. All you have is a project
file full of notes the software has made, like "OK, at 3:21.42 he want to
insert a clip from the file '2x09 - Trust No One (DV).avi' at time 14:29.12, length 2.03". Every time you
load the project, it has to also open 2x09 and make a temporary copy of that clip, so you always need access to
your video sources, your music, and so on. Rendering takes this temporary video and encodes it according to
the format (such as MPEG) and settings (resolution, bitrate, etc.) you've chose and creates a file.
- Since when does 1.15 + 1.15 = 3?
In video editing, times of less than a second are given in frames
rather than fractions of a second. Video is edited at 30 fps (frames per second) so 1.15 is one
second and 15 frames which is actually one and a half seconds.
- DivX AVI? DV AVI? Uncompressed AVI? Huh?
OK, as I understand it, AVI isn't actually a video format. It's an open-source wrapper that anyone can create a
compression algorithm for, but all of them have the extension .avi. This means that when you see a file with the
avi extension, you have no idea what format it really is. It could use any one of a number of video and audio
codecs, any of which you may or may not have on your system. This can make playing an AVI a frustrating
experience. Perhaps there is some terribly clever aspect of this I am missing, but to me it's like creating an
extension called .pic and saying that a .pic file can really be a .bmp, .png, .gif, or .jpg file. So you download
a .pic viewer, but it really only displays JPEG pics, so it won't display your GIF pics, but you don't know which
of the pics are GIF pics and which are JPEG pics because they all just say .pic.
DivX AVI is the most common type of AVI, and is a high compression algorithm so a video of a given length won't
take up much space on your drive. This is good for files you want to just watch (though I personally prefer MPEG,
just because I'm annoyed by the whole "an AVI can be anything" nonsense). That high compression that makes them
good for storage makes them bad for editing, as the system has to spend a lot of effort decoding the file.
A typical ReBoot episode in VCD format (352x240) will be about 100 MB, though I've seen them as small as 65 MB.
DV AVI is the format that captured video is written in. It is a low-compression format that is pretty much
designed for editing. In comparison to the above, a ReBoot episode runs 4.4 GB in DV AVI, though part of that
size increase is because DV AVI is at DVD resolution (720x480).
Uncompressed AVI is just that: uncompressed. A ReBoot episode takes up about 37 GB in this format (also in DVD
- What process do you go through to make a video?
Sometimes I get an idea, such as a character or a situation, and try and find an appropriate song (e.g.
Ave Daemon). Other times, I hear a song I like and look for a situation that
would fit it (e.g. Viruses Are Beautiful).
Once I have the song and the situation, I listen to the song over and over and over and over, making mental
notes about clips that might fit. I get a sense of the feeling of various parts of the song.
I get a copy of the lyrics and see if certain passages evoke scenes
in my head. I get ideas about the structure of the video, where the scene cuts should be, where I need long
clips and where I need short. I might jot down a few notes, but mostly I'm working in my head at this point.
Now that I have an idea of where I'm going, I sit down to create version A of the video. This is a simple version
that consists of the music track, a blank title on the main video track, and temporary overlay titles that
mark out the measures (one title for every four measures).
After I lock down the title track, these overlay markers allow me to synch up the video as I
go and can easily be deleted before the
final render. Some songs have a very rigid tempo, so once I've timed the measures it's easy to lay out the titles
and tweak them a frame or two where needed to keep them in synch. Other songs have tempos that change, pauses in
the music, or other strange construction that involves "earballing" the measure breaks (earballing: to estimate
by listening carefully; derived from the word "eyeballing".).
Now is the time to insert the clips. I start with the clips that I've already visualized, placing them and
them with the music. This part is easy and fun. After this is the hard part: finding filler. Most of a video is
a handful of good moments embedded in a lot of filler clips. I try not the make the filler
seem like filler but it's not easy. I watch the video over and over, making sure
the scenes fit not just the music but one another.
Sometimes a group clips just don't work together, but if I change the order they work fine.
Eventually I get a rough draft of a video that has no blank scenes; this is usually about version C or D. Now I
look for better clips. I replace clips, rearrange them, and play with the feel of
the video. As an example, in Ave Daemon I replaced many cuts with dissolves, which
made the video flow more smoothly and fit the pace of the music better.
Finally, I'm finished. Usually, it's something like, "I'm sick of looking at this damn thing, so I've decided
that it's finished." I make a DVD-quality, low compression DV AVI render (which is about a gigabyte in size).
I import this render into Studio and make a low-quality RealVideo render (around 8-9 MB). Finally I use TMPGEnc
to convert the DV AVI to a DVD-quality MPEG for my own use (about 135 MB) and a VCD-quality MPEG for the site
(about 40 MB). I do the webpage write up and post it all to the site.
Questions About This Site
- What do you use to build your site?
The site was created using NoteTab Light, the best text-editor I've found.
It is written in XML 1.0 Strict and validated according the
guidelines of the
World Wide Web Consortium, as indicated by the validation section in the
sidebar. The current design for the site is based on
Sinorca 2.0 by
haran. I have have made a few minor cosmetic changes
to his design and have coded the site using PHP scripts
to generate the XML content.
- Where is the site hosted?
The site is hosted on a VPS account at KnownHost. I've been quite happy with
them so far.
- Your site doesn't look right in my browser.
Since this is a personal site rather than a professional one, I don't view the pages in a variety of browsers.
In theory, since I write to XML and CSS standards, it should
look fine. I know that IE 6 has a tiny formatting
error that most people won't even notice. If you see any major problems, email me at the link in the
footer and let me know.
- Is your site optimized for vision impaired users?
I have always tried to keep this site accessible to as many people
as possible. The template I based the site on was chose, in part, because it "tentatively conforms to the
double A rating and § 508 guidelines for web
content accessibility" per the designer. This is important to me in particular because in 2004 my niece was
born with significant vision and hearing impairments. I could say something like, "If you can't read this let
me know" but if you can't read it how would you know?
- Is this FAQ page way too long?
Yes. Yes it is.