Powering down in Portland…

Changing gear was the challenging workshop at the JEA/NSPA conference in Portland…at least for me. I’d done my research and the sad news there were no clear-cut solutions to the issues between the proliferation of consumer cameras and their various video file formats.

Carol Knopes with the Radio Televison Digital News Association (yep – they changed their name to fit the times) says she purchased a bunch of new video cameras and it caused such a hassle trying to decipher the file formats that she sent them back. I’ve had students laboring with similar problems, trying to use their new cameras and running into problems with the files not being recognized by their editing programs.

A tiny but passionate group sat in describing problems from issues with firewire ports going out on cameras to new cameras that weren’t recognized by their editing programs.

The only truth: everything is backward compatible. Nothing is forward compatible. Now that’s a generalization…but what it means is if you buy a computer or software, you can open older documents or files. You (again, generally) cannot open files from newer software. I ran into that when a student brought in a PowerPoint presentation I couldn’t open. Solution: go on the Internet and find a program that will convert/decipher it so my older software could read it.

I suspect until a definitive format emerges for video, there will be a battle between manufacturers as they push their proprietary formats, hoping they will be the winner. There’s copyright bucks involved.

So the (temporary and frustrating) is as follows.

1. Do your homework. Research your camera, know your software and computer…they are all parts of the same team and must work together and communicate and understand each other.
2. If you’ve made the mistake of buying something that does not work – be it software or hardware, begin your search for a solution.

I suggested to attendees that they use fileinfo.com for information about their video file format and links to free downlaods that will convert to a more useable format.

Wouldn’t you know it – one of the attendees suggested what may be a better solution: anyvideo which he says will convert any video to another file format.

Let me know how these two work for you. I suspect (since this is only the beginning of the problem) this will be a big workshop next year.

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