Friday, September 08, 2006

Living like a 20-yr-old, Pt 2 - Saturday: 7pm-3:30am

DV and now HDV camcorders plug straight into a computer in order to digitally transfer the footage. In theory. If you're running WindowsXP. But probably not if you've got Service Pack 2 (SP2). Unless you had a fresh install from a disc that included SP2. Assuming you don't have any other hardware that conflicts with the firewire controller card. Or if you have a Mac.

My camera outputs footage in one of three modes:

- DV->DV: DV footage output as standard def DV (like any DV camcorder).

- HDV->DV: HDV 1080i footage downconverted to standard def DV (as if it were shot on a regular DV camcorder).

- HDV->HDV: HDV 1080i footage output as HDV 1080i (if and only if your computer can deal with high def footage).

What I discovered that Saturday was that the latter two of the three possible modes instantly crashed my PC. It would make its "do-dong" sound indicating it's found new hardware but it would play the sound about four times in quick succession. The screen would then go blank and the next moment my PC would be rebooting itself. Wonderful.

Nothing I write here can adequately express my rage. This shit is supposed to work. For all the bagging on Microsoft and my own personal track record with their shoddy products, I still expected this shit to work. It would not. And "not working" is one thing, but crashing my computer makes the thing a spectacular, ridiculous debacle.

Transfering DV footage did work (DV->DV), though perhaps not immediately. And that meant nothing since I'd shot everything (and intended to continue shooting) in HDV 1080i.

Hours later I got it to not crash while attempting the third mode (HDV->HDV), but I couldn't do anything once connected.

Again, nothing can convey my fury at this. And when I say "hours later" I am not exaggerrating. I'm out of my mind with anger and frustration. I cancel plans with my sister because I can't bear to tear myself away from this black hole of misery. I was so excited and eager to get at that footage and I can't even figure out how to plug the camera into the computer without making the damn thing crash!

Around 11pm my neighbor Elizabeth calls me and guess what? She's angry and frustrated too! What a sad pair we are on a Saturday night. Her friends failed to call her and let her know where to meet them so she's all dressed up with nowhere to go. She wanted to grab a drink with me but I explained that I wasn't up for going out anywhere and I wasn't in a very good mood either.

All I could offer was this: "you can come over, I'll make you a drink, and you can watch me my bang my head against my computer." I thought she'd turn down such a crappy offer. Instead there wasn't a millisecond's hesitation in her "okay!"

She did pull me away from the computer and, not too surprisingly, a couple drinks and some good company were a welcome break from hours of seething anger. I plugged the camera into my HDTV (at least that was straightforward!) and we watched the footage--it was every bit as good as I'd hoped and then some; my expectations are rarely exceeded but this Sony HC3 is a miracle of technology!

Then I showed her the camera's infrared mode where it can shoot in total darkness but it makes everything green and a little creepy. Somehow that entertained us for a pretty long time (and please don't think Paris Hilton infrared sex tape thoughts--if I wanted to imply that kind of an evening, I'd have found a more clever and lascivious way to do it).

When she left I returned to fighting with the computer. I finally gave into exhaustion at 3:30am, having still not succeeded in transfering the footage.

Certainly tamer than the previous night, but I really desperately needed sleep. I blame Microsoft for my lost ZZZZs.


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