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We all have our reasons

As the ‘night of the Panther’ steadily approaches, it’s obvious that we’re all getting a little excited about the improvements and features; a little Exposé here, a little Fast User Switching there. Tonight, though, I’ve suddenly found myself excited less by the big–ticket items and more by the Pixlet codec.

See, I film stuff… a lot. It’s an embarrassing thread of synchronicity between myself and one of my movie–star alter–egos, but yeah, I’ve been filming elements of my life for nigh on four years now.

At first, I filmed every little thing I did; convinced that I’d return after a year to edit it all and produce some kind of me–and–my–friends reality show. Of course, that idea went down the shitter when I realized how much tape I was going through, and how much I hate reality shows. There’s only so much “we’re driving somewhere!” and “we’re sitting on the couch!” footage you can endure before you feel like poking an eye out, so the filming frequency slowed to a trickle. Today, the video camera doesn’t watch me sitting down to breakfast; it comes out for barbecues, birthdays, parties, birthday parties, and road trips… like any normal camera. The plan to edit the whole lot is still in sight, though —in fact, it was one of the driving forces behind my purchase of a Mac (that’s a story for another day)— but the scale is much larger now. It’s a collection of years now, of important events in all of our lives as we grew from fresh–out–of–high–school delinquents into the respectable social deviants that we are today.

Of course, this mean that I have a very, very large backlog of footage from the last few years. It’s all stored on VHS, which means that digitizing the lot of it (for editing purposes, of course) is a massive chore. The chore becomes next–to–impossible, though, when you discover that a single hour of uncompressed footage occupies 13Gb of hard disk space… and my disk just ain’t big enough to accommodate the piles of video cassettes sitting in my closet.

Just recently I started considering DivX as the solution to my problems… an awesome codec by any man’s standards. In preliminary tests, it helped my full–size copy of the Rose video (sized at 720 x 400… the raw product being over 400 megabytes’ worth) down to a very–appreciable 21Mb; roughly 10Mb/min at fairly decent quality. I was about to jump on the bandwagon and get freaky with my video backlog when I remembered Pixlet. Panther is a meager 3 days away… and Pixlet is supposed to be damnably impressive; doing the math, it should (conceivably) compress the Rose vid (which has become my own little benchmark for compression/quality) to a 16Mb file. Yep, 8Mb/min at better–than–fairly–decent quality. And when you’re considering hours, nay, days of footage, this makes me very happy. For that, I am willing to wait.

Sooner or later those cassettes will have to be digitized, sooner or later I’ll have to start editing that shit, and sooner or later there’ll be some half–decent video memories of [cue Bryan Adams’ Summer of ‘69] the best days of our lives.