Chris & Christina History

In the Beginning...

Well, this at least covers our beginning. While at Media-West Con in 1996, I stumbled upon the fannish video room one evening, and was instantly hooked! Of course, I took it up as a creative challenge to become a producer myself, with the help of some friends. Christina and I gave our first presentation at Media-West in 1997. Angela joined us in 1999 under the name of Elf Press Video. She had previously done the old VCR to VCR thing. Fortunately, all our vids have been done on the computer, which I find alot easier to work with.

Our Setups Over the Years

1997 60 MHz Pentium (ouch!) Reveal VE500 (they went bankrupt soon after) and old old (v2.5) Ulead Media Studio
1998 133 MHz Pentium (ugh) Reveal VE500 (I figured out how to use this card right!) and old old (v2.5) Ulead Media Studio
1999 300 MHz Pentium II (adequate) Pinnacle DC10+ (nifty little card for the price) and still old Ulead Media Studio (liked it better than the Pinnacle Studio program that came with the DC10)
2000 600 MHz Pentium III (decent) Pinnacle DC10+ (still a great entry level card) and still old Ulead Media Studio (wasn't ready to invest in more software, though I peeked at Media Studio 5)
2001 600 MHz Pentium III (decent) Pinnacle DC30pro (better than DC10+ and with integrated audio) and Adobe Premiere (v5.1c came with card, slick and awesome!)
2002 2 GHz Pentium IV (spoiled!) Pinnacle DC30pro (still works great for me) and Adobe Premiere (also finally figured out how to make decent VCDs using TMGEnc and Nero Burner)
2003 2 GHz Pentium IV (nothing new) Pinnacle DC30pro and Adobe Premiere (and got to play with my new MiniDV camcorder)
2004 2 GHz Pentium IV (still???) Pinnacle DC30pro and Adobe Premiere (didn't have my new machine finished in time, but did start making DVDs)
2005 2.8 GHz Pentium IV ht (screeeeamin!) Pinnacle DV500-DVD and Adobe Premiere 6.5 (best of both worlds, DV and analog inputs)
2008 2.8 GHz Pentium IV ht (still good) No new hardware or software, but new website!

Why MJPEG?

Well, from my tests and experiences, MPEG-1 is not suitable for editing since it tends to have more compression artifacts than MJPEG and rendering edits was always slower than having an MJPEG hardware encoder. Also, until recently, there wasn't very much support for MPEG-2 editing software, and DV format didn't really exist back then. I've found using MJPEG at 320x240 resolution and having a compression ratio of 5:1 seems to work the best.

Higher resoultions have worse results at the same bitrate, so to keep them at the same compression ratios would require much larger files than I'm prepared to handle. For distribution on standard VHS tapes, you can't make use of the increased resolution anyway. Maybe for DVD distribution you'd see the benefits, of course the biggest quality factor is always the quality of the original source tapes. We've tended to use the EP setting of VHS even though the quality isn't so hot just because of the large volume and cost of tapes we'd need to store everything in SP. We have been in the process lately of spoiling ourselves by purchasing TV shows on DVD! This is still the card Christina was using through 2007, but I think it's on its last leg.

Why DV?

It didn't help that Pinnacle decided not to make drivers for DC30 on Windows XP, and it was time to seriously consider making DVDs. While I was able to make a DVD using the MJPeg source, the higher resolution of DV will make it easier and produce better quality. I choose DV500-DVD because I believe in the quality of Pinnacle's product line, and wanted to move to DV, but still needed those darn analog inputs to capture clips, since we still occasionally use a VCR and the DVR we have doesn't have any means to export the video except through analog ports. The DV500-DVD also has hardware MPEG-2 encoding capabilities that produce very nice results in near real time encoding.

So with my new computer with 1GB of memory, 4 hard disks (2 large serial ATA dedicated for video editing), new capture card, and finally deciding to dump the old clunky Real Media format, we are ready to go forth and produce vids!

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Last Updated 13-Jul-2008 / Chris & Christina