Thursday, December 25, 2003

For Christmas I got a Sony DRU-14A Dual Standard DVD & DVD-R and RW DVD Burner With Software from Novatech - £77 for what is the OEM version of Sony's 510 - less than half price.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Got my Mojo working
Avid introduced their new hardware platform at NAB this year - the DNA series includes the budget Mojo i/o box for their DV products ExpressPro and NewscutterDV. It's about a grand and allows you to do analogue i/o and with ExpressPro you can get at more 'traditional' Avid data rates - 15:1 and even uncompressed. It's all here on Avid's site and although they don't actually say it has broadcast output by mentioning uncompressed and component video o/p in the same breath you kinda imply it.

Now, tele people are notoriously cheap, and to engineers the idea of getting broadcastable pictures out of a £1k box seems laughable but we have clients that are buying it with just that expectation and I'm sure it's going to fall on the resellers when QC'ers start sending finished programmes back. Now this isn't just me venting my old-school engineering spleen but me and my colleague Rupert (see his blog in the side-bar) have now tested two Mojo units and they both exhibit the same problem - when driving it in component mode (from the video o/p tool) you get what looks like a vestige of the horizontal interval and subcarrier all over the U o/p. This is no suprise when you realise that in analogue component mode they re-use the S-Video connector for Y and V and the Composite connector (RCA, not BNC! cheap as chips!) for the U signal. I bet they've implemented some 50p switching chip to go between PAL and U and the inputs to the switch are cross-talking.

Oh, it has unbalanced audio as well - The Guild Of Wedding Videographers unite!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Friday, December 12, 2003

Just found a picture online of an edit suite I designed for resolution - edit 1

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Cabling for AES audio
An article by Simon Croft from Post Update magazine (November 1998) based on an interview with me (while I was working at Oasis TV) explaining the pros and cons of sending AES digital audio over balanced and unbalanced cable. Kind of innovative at the time but par for the course now!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Windows Media 9 Encoder & WDM capture cards
At work we're producing a media capture system that all revolves around Windows Media 9 Encoder which (according to the documentation) works with any video card that supports WDM capture - I've used the Hauppage WinTV PCI cards for this applciation for the last three years - firstly in Media Encoder 7.1 and then the beta of Media 9 Encoder - yesterday we hosed up a machine at work and although the card works with it's own capture app (and other generic video application - VirtualDub etc.) when you try to configure it in WM9 Enc it hangs the machine (at "Ring Zero", James our tech director assured me). Trawling Google showed several hundred people making the same complaint - the only advice (that I've not yet tried) is to revert to the standard mode non-WDM driver (the old Video for Windows standard) - to expedite matter we've bought Osprey cards (one of the few models mentioned on Touched by the hand of Bill!

Oh, and another thing - I went home and upgraded the machine that has a Hauppage card from the Beta of WM9 Enc to full release and it stopped working with the capture card.

Monday, December 08, 2003

KinetiZ 7E motherboard
I've just upgraded my "media PC" (the machine I keep my movies and mp3s on) - the one hooked up to my TV & HiFi. Part of the reason of moving away from Win2K was for remote desktop (see below). Win2K didn't like the APCI power features of that board so I disabled them and all was well. BUT, WinXP wouldn't even boot with the BIOS set to disable APCI power management and the machine would crash every few hours with it enabled (Event log showed a flurry of APCI errors just before Windows would bomb). Thankfully there is a recent BIOS update which sorted it out. I'm not a person who upgrades merely for the sake of it but I'm glad QDI keep on top of these things (that motherboard is two years old!).

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Using a Mac G4 keyboard on my WinXP machine
They are such nice looking keyboards and they type beautifully! Over the weekend I hooked one up to my main setup (remote desktopping has freed me from ever having to use a KVM switch to get to my server and media PC) and here are the things that sorted it for me:
  • Travis Krumsick's KeyTweak allows you to re-assign the scancodes in the registry. I guess if you are a real Windows man you'd hack it by hand but it involves making the scan codes using four-bit combinations - use the utility. Since the G4 keyboard has no "print screen" key you can (for example) assign F13 to this function (most PC keyboard lack an F13). Anything else you need you can put on other keys. This works for all Windows software

  • Make sure you assign the keyboard as a US business layout (ControlPanels>Regional>Language>Details) then add a new keyboard.

Windows also recognises the CD transport keys above the number pad (which is nice!).

Friday, December 05, 2003

I am Master Shredder
This is one of the funniest prank 'phone calls I have ever heard - the first time I heard it I spent half an hour giggling continually. As you listen to it remember that it is the same guy doing the voices of the operator, the cop, the ninja master, and the teenage boy - amazing!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

DVD region hacks brought to you by those nice people at
I've yet to find a domestic player built in the last few years that you can't make region free! After that why not buy all your movies for $9 from!
Encoding MPEG-1 cheat sheet
Another training doc I wrote during my time running engineering at Resolution - a tad company specific but the principles are good - aspect ratios, resolutions, data rates etc.
Extended Menu on Digital Beta machines
If I had a pound etc. etc. for every DVW500 I've had to enable extended menus and do the -18dBfs audio mod (shutup, you're showing your age!). Anyhow - On the SS52 system board (the first long PCB running the length of the deck) it is switch 1 on the S100 block (at the very back of the VTR).

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

BBC NEWS | Technology | Broadband arrival for GNER trains
Wow, you'll be able to get network access while on the train! Limiting it to first class is a little off though.
Digital Video for TV
There was a time when the term digital video implied quality rather than compromise. See John Watkinson's primer article that is ripped from Studio Sounds magazine in July 2001 (but to be honest it's the same article he runs in numerous industry rags every year!). Page 1, and Page 2.

Monday, December 01, 2003

TV Safe areas
Here is an image (PAL resolution - 720x576) that is really only goodf or 4x3 work - but it shows the safe areas for graphics and action as defined by the BBC spec. TV safe area.jpg