Experimenting with Linux
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Experimenting with Linux

This morning when I should have been working on the daily blog post I decided to install Ubuntu on an external hard drive to see if it still worked as I remembered it working. It does, sort of.

There are two approaches. You could install Linux straight onto the internal HD of a mac device but if you do, and you encounter problems then it could take hours to fix your mistake. With an exteranl disk in target drive mode you can experiment to your heart’s content with an SSD that you can wipe, and reformat, and start again, if something messes up badly.

It also gives you a chance to check that wifi, the keyboard, and other things are still working well. In my case I found that wifi is not working with my mac book pro so I need to trouble shoot this. The advantage is that once I finish experimenting I can switch back to the internal HD via the option key, at boot, and I’m back in Mac land. There is the advantage that if you boot into Linux it will keep booting into linux until you tell it not to, and then your Linux box becomes a Mac once again.

WSL

With Windows you have WSL to play with, if you want to practice with using the command line. It offers a good oppportunity but it’s limited in that you can’t experiment as easily with a GUI.

Raspberry Pi

I find that Pi are great for experimenting. What makes them great is that they’re cheap, especially if you want to use them with Ubuntu Server rather than various GUIs. The advantage of using Pi is that you can experiment with single app setups like PhotoPrismPi, NextCloudPi, HomeAssistantPi and more

You can also experiment with installing ubuntu server, snap installing Nextcloud, adding docker, and then adding Immich, PhotoPrism and Audiobookshelf.

If you come from the windows or Mac world you think “but that’s easy, just install app one, then app two and then app three and you’re done. You’re not. When you install apps they install what they require. If you install nextcloud via snap it becomes the default localhost site, and photoprism sticks to :2342, audiobookshelf to :13378, pi-hole to /admin and so on.

The advantage of having Nextcloud on the locahost route is that you can then add “external websites” that point to the other services that are running in paralel. This allows people to navigate, without having to remember port numbers.

Linux is Stable

The key difference between Linux and MacOS and Windows is that Linux requires you to install the OS, rather than buying it pre-installed in most cases. This is the barrier to entry. If Linux machines were as common as Macs and Windows machines people would use them more often. Linux is stable. Once it is configured correctly it runs for weeks, months or even years without crashing, and without needing to reboot.

Linux is Flexible

The point of using WSL, Pi devices and target drives is that it gives you great flexibility to experiment and fix things, if they break, and restart from scratch if you can’t fix them. If approach A doesn’t work, you try approach B, and then C, until you get something that works.

By taking notes, along the process you develop a work flow to install servers with services as you want them to run. Initially I needed one Pi per service. With trial and error I can get one Pi to do everything, so I should consolidate all the services onto one device.

KDEnlive

The advantage of having the Mac Book Pro running Ubuntu is that I can then install KDEnlive and experiment with this open source video editor. As the Mac Book Pro is made obsolete so the opportunity to experiment with an open source version is all the more interesting. I wanted to build a video editing system on Linux and soon that is what I will have.

And Finally

Originally I was using a one terabyte SSD as a Time machine backup drive. Recently as I spent time freeing space on disks and moving things around I decided in install Linux on that SSD. Now I have a mac that can run either macOS or Linux, depending on which option I choose at boot. The advantage of using an SSD, rather than a spinning drive, is that it can be moved, while on, whereas a spining disk should only be moved, once it stops spinning.

I have been using Ubuntu on a Pi5 and it works well for almost everything, but if I can use a Mac Book pro then I have more power and flexibility, and it becomes portable. I can then switch the Pi 5 to Ubuntu Server and it will be stable enough to run for weeks or months between crashes or reboots.

WSL is good for command line experience and practice. Pis are good for simple apps, but a mac book pro running KDendlive is a good opportunity to finally reach my desire of editing video on an open source solution.

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Video Editing And Social Media

In the past if you wanted to be a video editor you also needed to be a camera operator, and to be a camera operator you needed to be a video editor. By knowing both skills you shot good material because you knew how hard bad material was to use. As a result of this videos were worth watching with all of our attention.


In recent years, there has been a move towards multimedia editing, where you don’t expect people to watch the video while sitting in front of a TV. You expect them to be looking at a mobile phone while commuting, or scrolling through a social media feed. Job offers reflect this. You often see jobs that required perfect spelling and grammar, Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects. The need for an editor to be a camera operator is gone. We have gone from videos being made by camera operators and video editors who love their medium, to graphists, who overlay graphics over video. They’re making slideshows, rather than video content.


Today I started to watch a video about desertification and the graphics were so huge and prominent that I lost interest after just two shots. They are not using video appropriately. Videos should not be optimised for social media. They should be made interesting to view.


I spend hours a week watching videos on YouTube where the use of graphics is minimal or even non-existent. I watch hiking and camping documentaries that are half an hour to an hour long with minimal music and minimal graphics.


For a long time, there was the notion that content should be 1 to three minutes long for people to watch the entire thing. I think that this view is now wrong. I believe that with the coming of age of YouTube content creators, so the desire for longer form content has grown.


Tik Tok and User Generated Spam


For a while I really liked TikTok during this pandemic and then I fell out of love with it for two reasons. The first of these reasons is that it forces you onto the For You Page so you end up watching and following strangers, whom you will never interact with and the second is that everyone uses the same song, does the same action, but in their own individual way. This could be seen as fun, and many do, but for me this is User Generated Spam.


Over a decade ago we had Qik, We had Seesmic, we had Livestation and plenty of other video sharing apps, some of them live, others pre-recorded, and others for multi-camera streaming. TikTok had great potential to be a Seesmic style channel. We could have logged in, recorded a video, and had someone comment or respond. It could have been a way of conversing people with our voices. Instead, it is a talent show. There is little to no engagement. We don’t talk. We don’t get to know others. Furthermore, we’re just eyeballs looking at mediocre content, when we could do something more interesting.


I considered unfollowing plenty of accounts, but this takes time. I also considered that I could follow accounts that create original content. Paradoxically, TikTok gave me just the video to illustrate the point I am making. 😉


@bmcdiving

Been a Long Week Of Diving In This Beautiful WasteWater ??? #commercialdiving #underwaterwelder #wastewater #shitjob #livingthedream

? Astronaut In The Ocean – Masked Wolf

Objectified – A Design Documentary Split Into Individual Interviews.

Objectified is a documentary about industrial design that has been divided into interviews with individuals about a diversity of designs, from the casing of the Mac Book Pro to chairs, a CD player that behaves like a fan and much more.


On Linkedin, this documentary has been cut up and split into chapters so that you can either watch the documentary in its entirety or you can watch it as video on demand with the designers you’re interested in or familiar with. It’s a contemporary implementation of the documentary genre because it assumes that you have five minutes at a time to devote to this documentary.


You also have the option of reading the transcript instead of watching the videos if desired. Some interviews are in French, German, Dutch, Japanese or English so you are not obliged to listen to an actor dubbing the interview or read the subtitles. You can simply lesson.


The reason for which I thought this documentary was blogworthy is that once you have watched the final edit version of the documentary you can watch the rushes. You can watch the interventions that were interesting but that was too long-winded or not compelling enough to make the final cut.


I like this. As an editor, we often work on videos and we rough cut to a video that’s three or four times longer than it should be and we listen, and we remove a phrase, and then another before we finally end up with the short version that is youtube or Instagram worthy. We feel that other sentences were interesting but because of limits with time and attention stay in the rushes bin.



In these clips we see the adjustments in shot size, we hear the person ramble and repeat themselves. We also see the video without cutaways or other embellishments. This lends a cinéma verité/direct cinema feel to the documentary. It’s easy to get half an hour to an hour’s worth of interview with each artist or designer and be forced to keep just the two most relevant minutes for the documentary.


Luckily with platforms like Linkedin Learning we can follow the course, i.e. Objectified, in this case, and call it a day, leaving the rest of the videos unwatched. We also have the option to expand and to learn more. I’m using Objectified as the example but there are plenty of topics and documentaries that would benefit from this approach to film making.


Plenty of Linkedin videos are of people reading from a prompter and you can see their eyes moving across the screen, and you can see that they’re pretending to be spontaneous rather than natural.


Documentaries, and Linkedin Learning are well suited, and more documentaries should make their way onto this platform.

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Video Editing in a virtual Reality environment

A few years ago I said that I would upgrade my mac book pro when apple came out with a dual display laptop where the keyboard is a touchscreen display that changes to suit the application in use.

Two days ago I had a change of heart. I do not expect Apple to come out with such a device. I have set my sites on a different idea. An edit suite which requires VR goggles to use. The edit suite could be used either by standing people or sitting people. Turn your eyes to the left and you see the rushes. You would have a choice. The rushes could be shown as keyframes on a board or as film strips. Motion feedback gloves would be worn that provide tactile feedback. Double click and the selected clip appears in the player window. With current editing systems keyboard shortcuts are learned and memorised by editors to avoid using the mouse. In this case specific finger positions would be short cuts. You could trim, splice, insert, overwrite, make multiclips and more. Sound and vision could be faded as if using physical controls.

Imagine multicamera editing in Final Cut VR. The setup would be like in an OB van except that you’re in an edit suite or in a park. You could even be sitting in the back seat of a car. The beauty of such a setup is that monitors and displays could eventually be removed from the desk to be replaced with goggles and a pair of gloves.

This means that the same edit suite could have a virtual 64 channel audio mixing board for sound technicians, colour correction wheels for colour graders, vision mixing console for vision mixers and standard video editing controls for video editors. In theory we could go back to the jug/shuttle controls from linear editing days.

I now look forward to seeing whether Avid, Apple or Adobe come out with the first virtual audiovisual creation suite. Imagine how immersive the experience would be. Enjoy the notion that this virtual environment will allow you to stand or sit down.

Streamlining with Quicktime Pro

If you’re learning about editing but don’t want to spend much money then Quicktime pro is a cheap and easy straight cut editor. It’s quick and easy to use.

With the short cut apple+c apple+N and apple+v you have a very simple editor. Using J to play backwards, k to pause and L to play normally you control how the video plays. With the I key for marking in points and the O key for out points you’ve got everything you need.

Find a video clip that is recognised by Quicktime and play the video. Find the footage you want to keep with the J,K,L keys and mark your in and out points. Once this is done cut the video with apple+C and open a new player with apple+n. Paste the video segment in your new player and you’ve got the first shot. Repeat this process with the source video and you’ve got a simple straight cuts editor.

There was some footage I wanted to process quickly, without opening finalcut pro and it worked fine. It’s more intuitive than imovie (for me at least) and it’s very affordable.

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How Using a Laptop for Client Led Video Editing Work Helps The Environment (Blog Action Day)

When I started video editing it required a powerful desktop computer and moving it around was hard. Now I’m working on a laptop. This is great for the environment and here’s why.


When the equipment you are using is portable it means that you can edit from the client’s offices rather than your own. Several times already I have gone to the office of those whom I work for. If there is a desk free beside them then they may go along with their daily routine whilst I keep working on my own work. Once there’s a rough cut I show them the edit and see whether they like it, apply any changes and once that’s done I can author a DVD.


In the past I would need a VHS machine, a tower, and a monitor. All of these take space and use energy. As a result there’s more energy being consumed. There’s then the issue of finishing a rough cut, driving to see the client, getting their feedback before driving back to the edit suite, and applying the changes. On some projects this type of process may have required quite a few trips.


Now I’m the one that moves with my laptop to the office. Work on the project and the net result is a great decrease in the number of trips that need to take place.  I’ve done my bit for the environment. I’ve also saved a few hours of commuting.


This post was part of the Blog Action Day. Check the image on the right sidebar for more information about this blog day and others.

A Writer Can Expect To Revise His Work Over A Hundred Times

Those words were magic, a writer can expect to review his work over a hundred times. That so many times. Can you imagine going through something one hundred times? By the end, you’re going to go mad.

Actually, when I’m working on video it’s not unusual for me to watch the same five minutes 20-30 times till I’m satisfied it’s perfect.

I’ve been applying that procedure to my dissertation which is why I still haven’t completed it. I was feeling discouraged this morning but this afternoon when I heard the sentence I’m now using as a title for this I felt encouraged.

Of course, it’s hard, of course, it’s repetitive but if you want to write well you’ve got to give it the time it requires. What’s the point in having a dissertation to write if you’re going to do it within two days. What about all the thought process. What about all the conversations you’re missing out on.

I joked with someone who was still taking notes today, “45 credits…. ah that’s worth at least 45 minutes of work”. She probably hates me for saying that but come on, it’s your dissertation. It’s the first time that people want you to blab for so long about a topic of your choosing. No one else tells you what to write, only how you should write it.

Some friends are smart, they chose the subjects they love. So did I, means you’re studying even when you’re not.

Add to this the process of writing. It’s enjoyable. Put some music on, zone out for an hour or two and just write, research, and learn more about what you love, then write more. Write to learn rather than the other way around. I love the thought of writing to learn. It’s a book I read several years ago, when still at La Chat in Geneva.

I think I’d like to be a writer. I don’t mind academic writing as long as I have as much time as I want, or else organise my time so that I fool myself into believing I have as much time as I want.

There’s one paragraph that’s taunting me at the moment, I’m going to trick it though, and it will be tamed into a relevant bit of text.