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.


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.


I keep wanting to make the usual joke about whose blood Alicia Silverstone has been bathing in to still look exactly like she did over a decade ago today, and then I remember she actually is playing a vampire in this movie… which I can’t make up my mind about: Does this look terrible or weirdly good?

"South Park" Ribbing

I’m a “South Park” fan, but everyone could use a little dressing down now and then.

Honestly, I whipped this up one night awhile ago and never put it on The Tubes because I didn’t think it came out AS cutting or funny as I wanted it to be, overall. But the music I found makes it work out better, I think… but maybe I’m wrong. You tell me…

"Crave" Hits at Fantastic Fest

“Crave” is the feature directing debut of Charlie de Lauzirika, who’s been one of the top-tier DVD producers for years now. The film was just awarded the Best Director (Next Wave) prize at Fantastic Fest.

Big fan of his work, never met him personally (in reality, anyway, we’d had some friendly interactions on a long-gone movie chat outlet maybe ten years ago) but he’s always struck me as one of the good ones. Good to see him make it.

Mumblecore Beatdown

You may have heard that Badass Digest helmer Devin Faraci and “mumblecore” darling Joe Swanberg participated in one of Fantastic Fest’s infamous “debates” over the weekend. If you’re not familiar with the format, FF lets participants lay into eachother verbally in a conventional debate… then the opponents put on boxing gloves and settle up for real.

Swanberg won the physical matchup rather definitively (you can see the footage after the jump) – he’s a big guy with almost a foot on his opponent, and in Devin’s own words he got “the piss beaten out of him.” The whole thing is more-or-less for show; but these two guys don’t like eachother and for my money Faraci won the war of words with this brutal slapdown of the “mumblecore” movement:

“Mumblecore is the opposite of everything that’s great about indie film. It’s the laziest form of filmmaking. It’s a bunch of middle class and upper class white kids whining about their ennui and their middle class white lives in front of a camera, without a script, without good actors. Here’s what you need to make a mumblecore movie: a sense of entitlement, white skin, and Greta Gerwig, and that’s it.”
“To me, the word “core” at the end of mumblecore, sounds like it should be something punk rock, something amazing, something edgy. Instead it’s the blandest, most self-indulgent bullshit, aimed only at the narcissists who make it. Your only audience, pretty much, is you.”

I’m not always Devin’s biggest fan or even “defender,” but I can’t help but give a colossal FUCK. YES. to that.

What Is "Lee’s Adventure?"

I’m being told on good authority that a Chinese film called “Lee’s Adventure,” billed as the big breakout vehicle for Jackie Chan’s son and just screened at Fantastic Fest, is the next great “movie about video games.” Based on an animated short, plot concerns a teenager with a bizarre mental affliction attempting to complete a game which he believes will allow him access to time-travel. Trailer below the jump:

That Time The Muppets Met Mario

Something fun, for your Sunday.

I think “Muppet Babies” might be (by default) the closest to “overrated” any of the mainline Muppet productions ever got, mostly because it was probably a certain generation of kids first exposure to the characters. Absolutely not a BAD show, by any means, but watching it again now it’s kind of unnavoidable that the ratio of preschool-moralizing to actual humor is a bit lopsided in the not-as-funny direction (also, yes… having all the character voices pitched so high starts to grate after a bit.)

But, fond memories I still have; particularly of the handful of episodes I had on tape and watched incessantly as a kid. One I only think I saw once, however, was (for obvious reasons) burned into my head just enough that before you could look these things up on the internet there was a period when I thought I’d imagined it: “It’s Only Pretendo.”

If you’re not familiar with (or don’t recall) the premise of the show, the Babies would play this or that make-believe game, which would flip back and forth between the “real world” of their nursery and elaborate visualizations of what they’re pretending is going on; often using mixed-media additions of movie and TV footage (usually public-domain, but sometimes big stuff like “Star Wars” which is why this isn’t on DVD yet.)

This episode is built around playing “Pretendo,” which you’ll gather is supposed to be a video-game console (the “lesson” turns out to be “play friendly and share” rather than “put that down and go outside,” UNHEARD OF in any other cartoon of the era where gaming was involved!) Aside from the obvious, I think the reason this one probably stuck out to me as a kid was that you almost NEVER saw video games being played by characters on TV and you definitely never saw reference to ACTUAL games. But that’s what goes on here, as the main part of the show is essentially wall-to-wall reference to Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Frogger (of course) Q*Bert and even The Power Pad(!) plus relative obscurities like Keith Courage and Fantasy Zone.

Enjoy! Part I   Part II   Part III