Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Video Hell

I am right now (in between other, more decisively-deadlined jobs) hard at work on the next episode of "The Game OverThinker." It MIGHT take a little longer than I wanted it to take, read below to learn why...

Every episode of "Game OverThinker" from the beginning until right now have been made entirely using two programs - one for manipulating images, one for arranging and editing video files - made by the same Very Famous Software Company. I won't use their name here because it's still slightly plausible that the problem might be my doing (not looking likely), but let's just say they are Very Famous and are named after a type of building material.

ANYWAY!

I've spent about a full week (in total hours) shooting footage and building FX for the ending sequence of this next TGO episode (the middle part I'm doing last so everyone can get their "Ask Ivan" questions in) and have managed to finally this afternoon cut it together into proper format. It's a complicated sequence - one actor playing about a dozen characters via greenscreen with a lot of effects and sound elements - but also a short one, not even five minutes in length.

The "Media Encoder" that Very Famous Software Company's video-editing software allows as it's SOLE option for exporting those elements as one solid video file refuses to complete that task - constantly crashing a few seconds through the timeline with no available description of what's causing the crash or what can be done to fix it. My assumption is "too many elements," but A.) I cannot be certain because this is apparently 1983 where it's still "okay" for software to give error messages with no troubleshooting and B.) for the amount of fucking money these programs cost (seriously, figure out who I'm talking about and look up how much they ask for their products) this should NOT be an issue... especially for less than five minutes of footage not even in HD.

Now, normally, this is something you'd fix by calling a customer service person. Oh! But, you see, Very Famous Software Company doesn't have reps available "overnight" (because, as we all know, if people with jobs that involve the use of high-end video-editing software are known for anything it's for keeping reliable 9 to 5 business hours) ...or even in the evening. Or even on weekends. Apparently I can order a Domino's pizza at 2am but I can't get service for a product I'm paying... egh. You get the idea.

SO! After many hours of self-research (because, y'know, no customer service whatsoever) it seems that a seperate "effects specific" product ALSO made by Very Famous Software Company might handle this sort of project better AND I can just pop the "raw" timeline from it's current place into THAT with little difficult. Okay, cool... granted, it's another HUGE chunk of change and there's no garauntee this is going to fix the problem (sure would be nice to talk to a fucking customer service person about that, huh!?,) but it's something...

Wait! Wait! Very Famous Software Company knows their products are expensive, so they graciously offer downloads for FREE TRIALS on their website! Well, that's good news! So I go to download it, and instead of just downloading immediately via that little "do you want to download ______?" window like every other website on the fucking planet it instead asks me to install Very Famous Software Company's PROPRIETARY downloading service (which requires a login ID) onto my system. Of course it does, it's Very Famous Software Company. So I download the proprietary service that I need to download the free trial... and it won't work. Error message after error message. There is nothing wrong with my internet service. More error messages.

I have other priorities to get to at that point, so I set about those while periodically trying to make this proprietary downloading service work. Several hours later, my work is done and the download service still doesn't work.

But wait! There's another option! Very Famous Software Company offers a "Cloud" service whereby you pay a monthly fee and get to use various versions of their products... which includes the trial you've been trying to download! Hurray! And there's even a free trial of the "Cloud" service itself - double hurray!

...except once I've signed up for the "Cloud" trial, I don't see the option on it's "Apps Menu" for the product I signed up to gain access to. It turns out that the "free" trial of the product I signed up for is ONLY available through the paid version of the "Cloud" service. Of course it is. It's Very Famous Software Company.

I'm angry at this point. Like, Incredible Hulk angry. My Twitter looks like the private diary of an intern for the Romney campaign. Just burning up with hatred for Very Famous Software Company, their products, my inarguable professional need to keep using their products and most of all for the fact that once again something I was actually really enjoying doing (I honestly love doing what I do on this show, and this sequence was coming together spectacularly) has now been drained of it's joy and may even need to be scrapped altogether because of all this. I work hard on this stuff, and the parts of it that are fun are often the ONLY fun I really get for days on end.

So... fine, fuck it. It's only money. I sign up for a month's worth of paid "Cloud" service. The level I paid at lets me have full access to ONE product. I pick the one I came looking for a 4th of a DAY ago. They process the transaction. It goes through. The "order summary" pops up with a big button for "DOWNLOAD." I click it...

..."DOWNLOAD" takes me back to that same useless "Apps" menu on the "Cloud" service. The option that I'm looking for, that've now paid them to let me use for a MONTH... is not there. I sign out. I refresh. I sign back in. Try again. No change. My account, billing summary, email reciepts, etc show that I paid to be able to download this and it's not letting me download it.

And there's NOTHING I can do about that tonight. Or tomorrow. Or until Monday. Even though that means two days out of 30 that I've paid for will now be wasted.

Because I can't call their service line and ask why I am not able to access and use this product because Very Famous Software Company cannot be bothered to have a customer service line available on evenings or weekends.

Because, apparently, it is acceptable for a software company that operates a Cloud-based download management service that caters specifically to people who need constant, ready access to products and material to run their customer service on fucking BANKER'S HOURS. ...Oh! Except that term is no longer accurate, because I can call my bank 24 hours a FUCKING day.

The sun is about to come up here, and I'm fucking done for the night. The lone "upside" to this nightmare is that this is, fortunately, NOT happening to a show/project with a contractual deadline - if it was, I'd be losing my mind for real right now.

I'm telling myself it might just be some kind of service delay and I'll be able to access it tomorrow, but I know that's bullshit. I know I'm going to spend monday morning/afternoon on the phone with Very Famous Software Company working this out, either getting the trial that I paid for actually downloaded or at least getting my money back... money which will then go into the fund for the many, many hundreds of dollars I'll be spending to buy either a better computer (who knows, maybe this heap just isn't "strong enough" to render that biiiiiig scaaaaaary 4 1/2 minutes of video!) or to buy the full version of this Very Famous Software Company's "Effects" program because apparently it'll help and I'll be damned if all this work I've already done go to waste.

22 comments:

angrykirby said...

I may have a solution for you. If you can render out a selection of your project render each segment out 30 seconds at a time and you should probably not get the error then open a new project, take all of your rendered segments put them in order and render them out as one 5 minute thing and it should work. Youll lose a tiny bit of quality by doing that but not really a noticeable amount. Try that still might not work.

Anonymous said...

Kinda not surprised. If it's the Very Famous Company that I think it is then they more or less proved their asshole status in the 90-ties. Instead of having a business model of trying to honestly compete they cheated. They on had louse piracy protection because the companies don't pirate and most of their potential clients where companies but normal people would never pay for their products anyway. The plan seems to have been to see to it that when normal people thought of this kind of programs the Vary Famous Company was the only name people knew. There where better products out there but VFC won via brand recognition. So I've viewed them as untrustworthy ever since.

angrykirby said...

You dont have to render out as one solid video file in premiere. I dont know which version youre using but you select the begining and end of each clip using the render bar located at the top of the timeline and you can render out in segments.

angrykirby said...

If your render bar is broken or something you could still render out each segment by deleting your entire timeline except the segment you want to render out then once youve rendered out the first segment you could undo and delete everything but the second segment and then once everything is rendered out put the rendered segments into a new project and put them in order together.

Just make sure that you copy your whole project file before doing that so you dont accidently save and lose all your work

Nixou said...

You know, Bob... bittorrent is your friend

No: seriously: if your Very Famous Company™ can't provide you with reliable customer service, then tries to find new ways of turning you into an even more captive customer who pays more to have less, just get the pirated copy and never ever again give them a single cent.

David Howard said...

Ok, here's the trick people (such as myself) use in the field and it saves asses on a daily basis. Instead of rendering something as a video, you render it as an image sequence (TIF and TARGA more notable but JPG works fine too). If it crashes during the image sequence render you have the images up until the crash intact in your specified location. SO, you go back into the program and render from the very next image in the sequence.(you may have to do some math to figure that out exactly though there might be a way for the program to tell the total frame count) It still may crash and you might have to do this a couple of times BUT once you have come to the end of your sequence you import the image sequence into a new composition and each image sequence acts like clip-you just put them together in order and render that one layer of images out as video like a fairly dense slide show. (NOTE: when bringing an image sequence into the project you should make sure it imports at the proper fps so that playback is at the correct speed)

This is somewhat more pertinent to After Effects but another time-honored trick is if you have several sequence/compositions brought into one final master sequence/composition then it is prudent to render out those sequence/compositions into image sequences(which are the least taxing on editing software) first and then bring those image sequences into the master for final rendering. This counts as a form of prerendering - if you just pile unrendered sequences into a master then in order to render the master the software must first render the sequences within and then render it all together--this is mostly commonly why renders crash.

Hope this helps, good luck with everything!

Anonymous said...

Huh, as an editor these are most of the reasons I switched TO Very Famous Company from Very Famous and Pretentious Company. I'm curious what kind of system you're running and how much RAM you have.

The comments are right; rendering it out in chunks before exporting the whole thing is the right way to go.

The Bagwellian said...

You can calm yourself with the knowledge that others before you have had these problems. In fact, someone has likely had this exact problem which is why it may help to visit forums."veryfamouscompany".com and you might find another user who shares your pain and has a solution.

I've learned to value forums for these sorts of things. I use a program made by another company who is famous, if you work in a recording studio or a post house. They ask payment for the use of their customer support line and I ain't made of money.

I've even used the same program you are complaining about. More so lately due to the fact that another very famous software company who's name resembles a piece of fruit broke their non linear editor in its last update. I mean they broke it. Deliberately. Much the way they recently broke their map app.

Anonymous said...

I've had this very similar problem (not wanting to buy something for A LOT OF MONEY to use ONE FEATURE) and it is super annoying. I feel you 100%, and it seems the people above me have solutions! I agree in rendering a little bit at a time. That seems like it would work best.

I mean another option would be to render it with, say, two layers then put that video back in as one, add a layer, render, etc. But it'd probably wear the quality, so chunks at a time seems like your most viable option.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...sorry. Can't have much sympathy for your rage when it's self-inflicted. You place me right in the 'steal their shit' camp.

I'd do it anyway because I can and it takes very little effort. You may think that's morally wrong, but I'll still have the programs that I didn't have to pay for nor jump through hoops to get. Morality will never take precedence over reality.

If you want to stay legit, fine. But that's your personal choice and you gotta sleep in the bed you made.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Adobe isn't looking for trouble and certainly not with relatively obscure internet personalities, so why bother with the cheeky euphemism? Nobody's fooled here.

Andrew said...

Also, buying the software gives you the commercial license to then make money off of your work, something that both the student versions and the pirated ones do not give you.

Honestly though, having After Effects should make your life a thousand times easier if you do plan on making the investment, especially given the type of animation you do. It can be a damn obstinate program at first though, especially without a lot of RAM (though since you said you don't render in HD, you should be fine). I recommend the site video copilot if you plan on staying the course at all. Also, remember that After Effects doesn't play back in real time unless you want it to.

David Howard said...

@Andrew Since the release of CS5, all educationally licensed Company-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named product is without limitation towards commercial use.

SirRosser said...

For f$@#'s sake, man, just find an open source program that'll do it. That's how us plebians get by, anyway...

The Mason said...

@SirRosser: If you can name an open source video editing suite that also does compositing and a lot of the stuff that after effects does, I'd love to hear what it is.

For me, that's why I could never really get into making videos: because the software I had available to me was either too expensive, too complex, or not available on my OS.

Megabyte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
biomechanical923 said...

Pirate shit.
No regrets.

Anonymous said...

Just found out about this recently: http://www.lwks.com/

It has a free version that looks like you can test out what you want and then if it works then you can pay the $60 licensing for the ability to use H.264 codec.

Ankhwatcher said...

I didn't know adobe was a building material.
'round these parts that's called Wattle and Daub.

SirRosser said...

@The Mason: ZS4 is some freeware that'll do compositing, at least. Granted, it's hard as hell to learn, but it's free and it'll do in an emergency.

Jamie Williams said...

Might have been said already but it sounds like there's a couple of solutions:

a) If your system can't deal with the amount of elements in the timeline then essentially, you need to isolate where the troubled element of your timeline is. Edit systems can be really buggy at not isolating this for you so probably exporting small segments or trying to render bits of it may be able to highlight that.

b) There are always good, reliable free options out there. I would say, never go for the big, full whack packages until you know you really, truly need them. Often they won't fix anything that your edit software can't do itself. They're normally not really DESIGNED for that and actually have other purposes (for instance, AFX often won't be able to cheat a bug in Premier. If you can export the file out as raw (or Uncompressed or Full Fat or whatever variation you use) then use MPEG Streamclip to convert it to your desired final output. Don't bother with Compressor or Premier or whatever for encoding. MPEG Streamclip is free and really really easy to use. I'm an editor in the UK and we often use it for all of our final, online delivery.

Hope that's some kind of help. Thanks for all the time and dedication Bob!

Zeno said...

INSTALL GENTOO