How to Make Widescreen, HD, YouTube Ready Videos in Corel VideoStudio

I’ve used VideoStudio Pro to make my videos, going back to the Ulead Systems years and continuing after it was, sadly, bought by Corel.  Corel hasn’t screwed up the application- yet, so it is still a robust, easy to use video editing and creation application.  But creating a widescreen, high definition video for use on YouTube can be a little confusing.

Here’s a step by step.

After you get your video, audio, titles, etc. in the timeline the way you want them, here are the steps

1. File>Project Properties:

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Be sure you have selected MPEG Files in the file format box shown above.  Then click the Edit button.

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Under the Corel VideoStudio tab, deselect (i.e., no check in the box) “Perform non-square pixel rendering” as shown above.

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Under the Compression tab, select MPEG-2 and set the Quality at around 40%, as shown above.

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Under the General tab, select 1280×720 as shown above.

Click OK to get back to the application window.

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Ignore any cache warnings or notices.

2. The Share Tab:

Click on “Create Video File” and select “Same as Project Settings.”  Name and save your video.  The application will render your video in widescreen HD.

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When it’s done, you’re ready to upload your creation to YouTube.  Note that it takes a while for YouTube to process the video after it is uploaded, even after it is viewable.  The video quality will improve when the processing is complete.

Here’s the result of the project I used as a test case for this post.

Thanks to assasin301 for creating an excellent video tutorial, which taught me the steps I showed you above.

Fontcapture: Free Handwriting Font & Secret Codes

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A long time ago in a galaxy far away (e.g., the mid-nineties) there was this service that would create a font from your handwriting.  I’m not certain, but I think it was called Signature Software and it may have been the predecessor to this.  As I recall, the application inserted a button or menu tool in Word.  You would type the document, a letter at a time, in your custom font, and then with a single click the writing would be converted to almost perfect cursive writing.

It was really hard to tell the result from real handwriting.  It worked really well.  So well in fact that I used it to write thank you notes to people who sent remembrances after my mom died.  No, I didn’t send a form letter.  I just used copy and paste for the common parts.

Today I read about Fontcapture, a free service, currently in public beta, that lets you make a font out of your handwriting.  In less than 15 minutes, I printed the font form, filled it out, scanned it, uploaded it, created a font and installed it on my computer.

It looks a lot like the Signature Software font did, before you hit the magic button that transformed the letters into connected, authentic looking cursive.  Without that magic button, I’m not all that impressed with the result, at least as far as an actual handwriting replacement goes.

But it does occur to me that you could use Fontcapture to make some wicked secret codes.  My buddy Tad and I had a secret code in grade school.  Believe it or not, I still have one of our secret messages.

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I have no earthly idea what that says, but based on the actual English on the other side of the page, at the time we were talking about dove hunting, rock bands and cars.  Number 4 on Tad’s car wish list was a Pinto.  The man always had taste.

If we’d had Fontcapture back then (well, that and computers, the internet, etc.) we could have created a whole new language.  Then maybe Tad could have traded up to a Bobcat.

Or maybe even a Maverick.

Nero: Snatching Fail from the Jaws of Awesome

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  And all that.

A long time ago when I first started to explore recording data, songs and music onto CD-Rs, I began with what was then ironically called Easy CD Creator, mostly because some crippled version came pre-installed on my computers.  I thought of it more as Easy Coaster Creator, but with enough effort I could burn a CD or two when adequately motivated.  For a few years I soldiered on, making a good supply of both coasters and CDs.

But as Easy CD Creator (d)evolved, it started to feel bloated.  And it seemed to want to take over my computer.  Before long I was just a spectator, watching as Easy CD Creator and RealAudio Player fought a turf war over my desktop.  I soon decided that I’d rather never hear another sound than to use RealAudio Player, and uninstalled it and all of its tentacles from my computer.

Not long after, I went looking for a “less is more” alternative for burning CDs.

I settled on Nero Burning ROM.  It seemed to be the favorite of the hardcore tech crowd.  It was relatively lean, and it had a semi-witty name.  And, best of all, it wasn’t Easy CD Creator.  Things went swimmingly for years.  Until Nero started to get fat.

Sure, the emergence of recordable DVDs required a some additional applications.  But when Nero starting growing it couldn’t stop.  Before long it seemed as massive as Easy CD Creator had been.  All I wanted was to burn some disks.  I didn’t want or need all that extra junk.

So I I went looking for a new “less is more” alternative for burning disks.  I found and installed CDBurnerXP, which badly needs a name change, but works well.  Still, I kept Nero installed and often found myself using it, mostly because of familiarity.

But Nero kept growing.  And that wasn’t all.  Somewhere along the way Nero decided to commit a couple of unpardonable software sins.

First, Nero began attempting to install other software during the installation process, and to change your default search engine.

If I wanted some stupid toolbar, I’d go get it.  Taking money (I assume) from some other desperate company in exchange for trying to slide their desktop clutter by customers is wrong on many levels.  Sure, you can say no during the install process, but it’s still wrong.

Second, Nero ignored my repeated requests for technical support after Kaspersky Antivirus kept telling me there was a P2P worm in the install package for Nero 9, the newest version of Nero, which I paid for (on 1/18/09).

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So Nero 9 never made it onto my computer, and I guess Nero can keep my fifty bills.  But Nero won’t sell me any more product and people will get the pleasure of reading about my disappointment here.  Voting with your fingers and whatnot.

I suppose Nero heard at least some of the hue and cry, as it recently released a basic, stripped down, free version of its disk burning application.  That’s a good start, but it it looks like the installer still tries to slip a toolbar by you, and to change your search provider.  Not OK.  Nobody wants.

Nobody wants.

All in all, it took a while to do it, but Nero found a way to snatch fail from the jaws of awesome.

How TweetDeck Could Take Over the World

And maybe kill Google, Microsoft and Wolfram Alpha in the process.  OK, that was a joke, but since all tech blogs use absurd, over the top headlines in a juvenile effort to attract readers, I thought I’d give it a try.

Back to TweetDeck. . .

tweetdeckI’ve dabbled with TweetDeck for some time, using it periodically but always finding my way back to my home-grown Content Master.  The Twitter part of Content Master, of course, is the excellent TwitterGadget, which does a lot of really neat things that other Twitter apps have surprisingly not implemented.  TweetDeck comes about as close as any desktop app I have used.  With a few additions, I think TweetDeck could become my Twitter app of choice.

But make no mistake, for that to happen, this has to happen:

First, it absolutely must allow multiple columns of “All Friends,” to allow users to better manage screen space.  The most important part of Twitter is the river of posts from the people you follow.  Having a single column to view this limits you to 6-10 posts on your screen.  That is far too few (sure, I could scroll down, but I’d rather allocate more screen space).  Users should be able to allocate multiple columns to the river, with new posts appearing in the first column and then moving to next column(s) before they rotate off your screen.  This is a must-have feature that should be implemented today.  Literally.

Second, how about a Google Reader implementation.  There’s already a way to add your Facebook data to TweetDeck.  Give me a way to access my Google Reader information from within the application and I’d be hooked.  Something similar to, but more robust than, the Google Reader gadget would be a great start.  I’d be happy with Google Reader.  I’d be thrilled if other apps were also incorporated, like Delicious, Read It Later, Photobucket, Dropbox, etc.  In other words, make TweetDeck as good for publishing Twitter content as it is for reading it.

Third, once all that additional source data is available from within TweetDeck, allow articles to be dragged from the applicable column (i.e., the Google Reader column), into the Tweet message box.  Populate the message box with the title of the article you dropped in there, and populate the link box with the URL, which should then be automatically shortened.

Fourth, provide a way to export all, filtered portions or individual items from your TweetDeck to other services, via RSS feeds.  That would allow you to use TweetDeck as the publishing platform not only for Twitter, but also for other services.  If I could selectively embed some of the content I read and publish in TweetDeck to my blog or some other site, that would be very helpful.

Fifth, create a top row of tabs for different TweetDeck page layouts, content and implementations.  If I could have my Twitter stuff under one tab and my Google Reader and Facebook stuff under another one, that would give me the flexibility I seek.  iGoogle, My Yahoo and other apps already have tab or tab-like features, so this shouldn’t be hard to add.

That should keep you busy for the rest of the day.  What are you waiting on?  Time’s a wastin’.

Why the Flock Doesn't Flock

Sarah Perez wonders why more people don’t use Flock, the super-charged Firefox based web browser that has lots of social networking features baked right in to the interface.  That’s a good question, and after thinking about it, I have a theory.

I think it has to do with the Facebook/geek ratio.  By geek, I don’t mean someone who swims deeply in the online ocean.  I mean the hardcore technophiles, like most of the people who write for and read the big tech blogs, etc.  I am a part of that demographic, along with lots of the people I blog and tweet around with.  Our population seems large, because of the world-shrinking effect of the technology.  The same technology that allows me to be friends and podcast mates with two dudes from Australia also allows people to have and stay in constant communication with like-minded friends all over the world.  So while the geek crowd seems large, it’s not.

As a result, we make the mistake of thinking that everyone views the net and the associated apps and services the same way we do.  But most people clearly don’t.

A lot of the tools geeks think are indispensible- like Twitter, for example- have not penetrated the larger population nearly as much as it may appear from our little corner of the net.  One celebrity gets a million followers, and others have to match that.  Take away the race to a million and the resulting celebrity turf/ego war and Twitter would still be just a popular, unprofitable Web 2.0 application that few of our real world friends have ever heard of.  I can still count the number of Twitter users I know in the real world on one hand.

Compare that story to the evolution of Facebook.  It was created and grew up out there in the real world, with millions of young people using it daily.  As those young people grew up, they took Facebook with them.  Then Facebook opened up and the momentum-chasing herd of geeks migrated over there and, on occasion, fooled themselves into believing they had discovered something new and cool.  To the original Facebook population, it was neither new nor cool.  It was just part of ordinary life, like a TV or a telephone.  While the newly arrived geeks began to honk and bray about Facebook taking over world, the young old guard just went about their lives, with Facebook as a utility, but not a religion.

A utility, however, that for most is the hub for their online activity and for many is their online activity.  The reason the Facebook walls have survived relatively intact is because the large majority of Facebook users are happy to live inside those walls.  Most of them have never even used Firefox, much less Flock.  It’s this demographic, not the vocal in our browsers but otherwise largely irrelevant geek crowd, that makes Facebook go.

At the end of the day, what this means is that Louis Gray is right when he says the operating system doesn’t matter to most people.  It doesn’t, because for many of them, Facebook is the operating system (for others some combination of Google applications are).  They don’t need a new or super-charged browser to use Facebook or some other social network, because they use Facebook to do all of that stuff.  Which explains why so many of these ancillary social networks seem so Facebook-centric.  They know where the biggest population of potential users are.

All these kids need is a way into Facebook, and maybe Gmail.  The best operating system and browser to do that with are the ones that  are already on your computer.

No Flock required.

What Will Office 2010 Look Like?

Here are a few early screenshots of Microsoft’s Office 2010.  Candidly, I find the whole ribbons thing to be an exercise in chaos and frustration.  But I’m not sure it would matter if they were as intuitive as dodging snowballs.

Why? Because here’s a screenshot of what I expect my Office 2010 to look like.

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I don’t know how hard Google is chasing the corporate market, but if it has serious designs on attracting business users, it simply must implement some sort of tracked changes or version/compare feature.  The absence of that feature is the primary thing keeping me from using Google Docs as my primary word processor at home, but it is an indispensable thing for business users.

Here are a few other tweaks that would make Google Docs more attractive to me.

There should be a way to synch your iPhone calendar and contacts with the corresponding Google app without affecting- or even touching- your Exchange synchs.  I tried to synch my phone and the Google apps and ended up with multiple instances of the same contacts and events, which was a pain to sort out.  In sum, it was an unmitigated disaster.  I’m not going to risk jacking up my much more important Exchange synchs, and no big company is going to make it easy to do three-way synchs, for security/paranoia reasons.  But it would be cool to have my iPhone synch separately with Exchange and the Google apps.  It would even be acceptable to have contacts and calendar entries pushed out to the Google apps, without the ability to move data the other direction.  But all of this needs to happen without doing anything unpleasant to the Exchange synchs.

Gmail needs to finally figure out a way to suppress the “on behalf of” business when your email is read in Outlook.  I’d be happy to use the Gmail interface, but I want to use my existing email account.  I’m not willing to trust Google as the sole archive of my old emails, but MailStore Home looks like an acceptable way to archive email locally.

It would also be great if Gmail allowed folders for us dinosaurs who are more comfortable with folders than tags.  I think this is a design limitation, as opposed to a philosophical position on Google’s part, but I have no basis for that other than intuition.

Gmail should add an option to have spam deleted immediately, without ever being seen, and to have your trash folder emptied more frequently.  I’d have it emptied every day.  The best thing about Gmail is the spam filter.  I want to supercharge it and let it make all spam invisible to me all the time.  I’ve never noticed a legitimate email in my spam folder, but I don’t care if there is.  If someone wants to contact me badly enough, they’ll write again.

I also need the ability to customize the links at the top of the Google apps page.

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I’m not going to use Picasa for my photos, no matter what.  I want to replace that link with a link to Flickr or Photobucket.  I also want a link to iGoogle up there, as well as links to my internet starting page and my Content Master page.  In sum, I need more flexibility to customize the page layout and content.

Finally, Google needs to take a page from Lost and pledge not to give up on Google Docs like it did on Google Notebook and various other apps.  It’s difficult to migrate to a watering hole that could dry up at any time.

I’m close to going all Google Docs all the time, but I need a little more incentive.

Shooting the Bird: More on the Blog Publishing Problem

I’m working with some good folks at Microsoft to resolve the photo publishing problem I wrote about the other day.

This is a test post from another computer, but over the same internet connection.

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There is (or is not) my little test photo.

Initially the photo would post to the Blogger photo server (which I don’t generally use), but not to my server.  I got this error:

(Publishing Error) A publishing error occurred: 200 Type okay.
227 Entering Passive Mode (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
150 Data connection accepted from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; transfer starting.

So I tried to post on my laptop, using an ATT wireless card.

It worked (there is the long awaited photo).

Which means the problem is caused by my network.  Hmmm.  Let’s see if it’s my computer or my internet connection. . .

Here’s another photo- this time I’m posting on my desktop, but using the ATT wireless card.

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This also worked, which means that the problem resides in my internet connection, not on my computer, not in Live Writer and not on my web server.

I’ve narrowed it down, but I’m not sure where to go from here.  I guess I need to look at the router settings.

When I disable my router’s firewall, the photos publish correctly.  But I obviously don’t want to permanently disable my firewall, so I need to configure my router to allow Live Writer to publish these pictures.  It’s odd that Live Writer can publish the text of the post (via Blogger) but not photos.  It’s also odd that I can publish photos via an FTP client, but not via Live Writer.