Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Videos Hate Me

I realize it sounds somewhat silly to say that presumably inanimate things hate me. But after reading this, you will wholeheartedly agree with me that videos, despite their clever acts, are actually living, breathing entities. Maybe not breathing. But definitely living and united against me.

The war between myself and videos actually began long ago. I purchased a video camera because I enjoy creating, filming, and editing videos, and looked forward to putting it to good use. I immediately immersed myself in creating a movie with some friends. Upon finishing the movie, I plugged the camera into my computer, sat back, and got ready to dazzle my limited audience with a spectacle of special effects and creative brilliance. My computer already had Windows Movie Maker installed, so I opened it up and proceeded to import videos from my video camera. That’s when I first saw it. The dreaded gray box with a red X through it. Hm… I pondered this problem and spent quite a bit of time trying to convince the computer to play the videos. I actually think I went through all the phases of grief. First, I refused to accept it. It'll play, I confidently told myself. Except it didn’t. As my denial left me, anger and frustration took its place. Shouting at the computer and slapping the monitor didn’t seem to work either, so next I tried bargaining with it. I apologized for my previous tactics and offered it some cookies. Then I promised that never again would I push my fingers against the screen to see the cool ripples that form or type on the keyboard while eating buttery popcorn. It still refused to cooperate. At 11:00 that night, I finally gave in. The computer, or, as I was soon to discover, the videos, had defeated me.

Further research and consulting a friend with experience with Movie Maker informed me that the videos wouldn’t play because they were the wrong file type. My video camera took film in .MOV format, which just happened to be the one format that Movie Maker doesn’t play. Until I told my friend and he said, “That’s odd… .MOV plays on my Movie Maker.” That was when the beginning tendrils of a dark suspicion uncertainly gripped me. Was there something going on here…? No… no, that’s impossible. I decided that I would have to purchase a video editor that could edit .MOV files or convert them to a different file type, such as .AVI, which I learned was the most common. I determinedly walked into Best Buy, gift card in hand.

“Can I help you?” a smiling employee inquired.

“I’m looking for a video editing program that can either edit MOV files or convert them to AVI,” I boomed confidently.

The smile seemed to fade slowly away, as if it were a liquid dripping off the employee’s chin. Not sure where that imagery came from.

“I’d better get someone else.”

Another employee, presumably more intelligent when it came to the world of video editing.

“What are you looking for?” he asked. This one had a concerned, trying-to-be-helpful look. I repeated exactly what I wanted. The employee looked dumbfounded. He blinked a few times before asking me to wait just a moment. He walked off, approaching the first employee. They laughed in a I-have-no-idea-what-he’s-talking-about-I’m-just-a-part-time-teenager fashion. They then scurried off to find someone was from the same strange, foreign-language-speaking country as I. A middle-aged man approached me. When I told him what I wanted, he wasted no time. He rushed off, gesturing for me to follow him into the alien realm of video software. I did so, and he handed me what I believed to be the answer to my needs: a program that could edit nearly any file type and also convert it to nearly any other file type. In addition, it was far more advanced than Movie Maker, granting me the power to dazzle audiences even more. I purchased it for $50.

The next time I had to make a movie was for a school project, lending it somewhat more importance than a movie with friends. I was counting on my new program to give me an A. I imported the videos and waited with bated breath. They could be edited! With a rapidly beating heart, I worked my movie magic and created a true masterpiece. This would earn me more than an A. I would surely earn a letter like I, which was so legendary, it was believed to be imaginary. So, I saved it and emailed it to myself to test. And found that nothing except my video editor could play it. Devastation is the best word to use here. Wait! I can convert it to AVI or WMV so it can be played! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I had outsmarted it! So I clicked convert. Ugh. Two hours. That’s alright, I could wait. I plopped down on a couch to relax and congratulate myself. Then my night was ruined. I made the mistake of checking on its progress. “Error: Conversion could not be completed. Please try again.” An hour and a half had passed. Only 31 minutes left. I looked at the clock. It was 10:00pm. One more try. Same message, an hour and a half later. I was running out of options. I tried burning it onto a CD. There was no bar or anything indicating how much time was left. At about 12:30, I gave up. I was forced to play my video scene by scene by hooking up my camera to the TV.

That was when I saw the truth. The computer was a mere pawn. The videos themselves were the masters, utilizing every technicality they could to prevent me from accomplishing anything. It was sickening, but there was nothing I could do. I wearily threw in the towel. Until a few months ago, I received a camera that could record in AVI. Trumpets sounded. Heavenly golden light flooded my soul. I made a successful movie. I had finally won a battle. But the war was far from over.

I decided that I would apply to be a blogger for the MIT Admissions Office. One of the essays was a video! I excitedly went forward, utilizing every trick I knew, throwing everything I had into 22 minutes of concentrated SHAZAM!!! I saved it to my computer. Everything was going fine. At long last, the videos would bow to my will! My shackles had been broken and theirs forged! If you couldn’t tell, I was pretty excited. It took an hour to upload. That was alright though. The videos could stall, but I would emerge victorious in the end. “Upload Complete.” YESSS!!! Processing video… Huh? What was this? Why in the world are you processing anything? I just uploaded you!!! I gave it some time. Then grew suspicious. Was it possible that the videos had pulled something? Some ace in the hole, some trick I had never seen? Yes. I Googled “how long does it take a video to process?” The answers I found said that the time varied, but something else caught my eye. “Videos longer than 10 minutes will be deleted at this step.”


Panicking, I brought up my video. I had edited it, making it much shorter, but would it be short enough? It began playing. I looked at the time thing. And froze. I think my heart stopped.


Ten minutes and twenty four seconds. That was twenty four seconds too long. With a wail of agony, I collapsed. I could hear the videos snickering, pointing at me, finally claiming victory. I had no time left to upload the video. Forget time; I was out of patience. I just couldn’t take it anymore. The videos had won. I proceeded to upload the sad replacement for the video, which can be found in the entry below. Chances are that will make me or break me. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll be tending to my wounds…

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