FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2003


THE DOC IS IN...

'Simple' process wasn't simple at all

Roberto Segura of MicroCenter visited 'Coffee and Computers' the other day to tell us how he has been taking video movies and digital pictures and showing them on his home television set.

He accomplishes this using a compact disk burner that many of us have on our computers and special software that produces a Video Compact Disk, or VCD, that then plays on a standard DVD player.

This sounded interesting and I thought I would try it. Little did I know that this would stretch my computer, my Internet connection and my patience.

I had a number of pictures from a birthday party that I wanted to assemble into a slideshow with titles, transitions and background music. Before I could start I had to go to www.microsoft.com and download a free Windows XP program called Movie Maker 2.0. Fortunately I have a DSL Internet connection so this 13 megabyte program downloaded in just a minute or so.

Movie Maker 2.0 allows me to assemble my pictures into a slideshow and has a number of nice transition effects to use to go from one slide to another. It also has a selection of title forms for the beginning and end of the show.

Adding music is another story. Regular music compact disks use a format called cda. Movie Maker 2.0 cannot use the music in cda format.

Back to the Internet and www.google.com. Searching for "cda mpg conversion," I find www.mysticmedia.com. They sell Blaze Media Pro to make this and other music format conversions. I download this 14 megabyte trial program and convert my background music to mpg format for Movie Maker 2.0. At the end of the trial period the program can be purchased for $50.

Now I have a slideshow with titles and background music. Ready for Ulead's Movie Factory 2 that will burn my new slideshow onto a writable compact disk that can be played in my DVD player and shown on my television set.

But wait a minute. Movie Factory 2 will not accept the format produced using Movie Maker 2.0. Back to Google and a search for "wmv mpeg conversion."

www.tmpgenc.net has a program called "TMPGEnc 2.5" that will perform the proper conversion. I download this 1.7 megabyte program and start my 30 day free trial. I can purchase the program later for $48.

I feed the Movie Maker 2.0 file into TMPGEnc 2.5 and two hours later on my Dell Pentium III, 600 megahertz machine, it is accepted into Ulead's Movie Factory 2. Now I can burn the compact disk. I follow the simple instructions and twenty minutes or so later I have a completed compact disk. I rush to my television set, turn everything on, put the cd into the dvd player and watch my new slideshow. Eureka, it works.

Does this all sound confusing? It is and it points out the incompatibilities and new requirements in this age of digital imaging. To produce this television slideshow I needed new and specialized programs. I was lucky having a high speed DSL connection to the Internet because many of these new programs are large and only easily available over the Internet. Since components of this finished slideshow couldn't "talk" to each other I needed separate conversion programs. My Pentium III, 600 megahertz machine is way too slow for these processes. I need a Pentium IV, 2+ gigahertz computer. And lastly, this all took a lot of patience because it was work making everything fit together.

So Roberto's "simple" process wasn't so simple after all. I am sure there are faster, simpler, less expensive methods to accomplish the same goal, but I haven't found them yet. I'll keep looking. You look also.

If you would like to hear more about digital imaging, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

 _____________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


Return to Doc's Home Page