Friday, March 23, 2007

Back from the Dead

Last night: The clients are talking amongst themselves so I go in the other room to watch the DVD burner do its stuff. The video is 52 minutes long so the copies are going to take awhile but maybe if I watch it it'll go faster. OK, I don't believe that, but it's something to do. It's midnight and so much can go wrong still. I've already been up for three days straight to make the deadline and it absolutely has to be done tonight because I'm leaving for Idaho and my brother's wedding. We checked and re-checked the DVD project but when you change segments created in other programs and then re-import them into DVD Studio Pro, there's no telling what problems you can miss. This is week 3 of my work on the project and I don't want anything to be amiss.

Every day I've gotten up at 5 am and worked on it until it's time to go to work and every night I've stayed up late working on it. Then I pull the two all-nighters in a row. But it's still not as bad as last year. There were four all-nighters. I figured I was up for 102 hours straight with two 15-minute catnaps in all that time. It was interesting to see how my body reacted to it. Throughout that period my mind was clouded with a light haze, like looking through a dirty window. Most of the time I handled it just fine. I went to work and then came home and worked through the night until it was time to go to work again. There were times when my judgement was impaired, as if I'd downed a six pack in ten minutes, but most of the time I was able to function pretty well. My wife drove me everywhere because we never knew when my mind would shut down. It was like having epilepsy and waiting for the seisures to come. The problem with working like that is that there are invariably mistakes being made. I think I gave them four different disks before all the problems were finally resolved and I gave them the perfect one. That was delivered at a 7-ll at 1:30 am in the rain. It must have looked just like a drug deal. They were showing to the video to the parents, players, and coaches of the 15 teams in the club at 10am that morning. I waited all day for them to call me and tell me it was a disaster. But they never did. I finally called them and was told it was a raging success--be sure to send the invoice.

This year I was determined to get it done in two weeks with no all-nighters.


A large portion of the program is a collection of videos produced by each team. They are all of questionable quality and all on different formats. This year most of them were on DVD and that was great. But one was on High 8 and one guy even sent me a powerpoint presentation. In those cases all I can do is scramble to find away to convert it to what I need.

So I got the thing finished yesterday and gave them the disk, crossing my fingers that it would be perfect the first time but knowing down deep in my gut that it wouldn't be.

Sure enough I got a call with a bunch of changes. This time they wanted to be there with me. I'm all for that because we can get it right the first time. So we meticulously examined each segment after we waited for 45 minutes for one of them to render. Then, satisfied that all the changes were good, I opened the DVD menu project and examined them in there. They all looked good so we burned the disk and then made copies. That was another hour.

When it was done, we didn't even watch the disks. We were that confident.

I went home to crash. I wasn't going to get up for hours.

At 6am the phone rang. Two of the segments (which just happened to be the ones we changed) cut off at the end and would I please get down there right now and fix them.

I worked through my own personal fog and found the problem: The changes made the segments longer but DVD Studio Pro doesn't automatically adjust running time of the segments. You have to do that manually. I think I knew that but when you're drunk on no sleep the synapses just don't connect properly.

Well, the corrected DVD is in their hands and I'm in Idaho right now and the presentation is tomorrow.

I'll send the invoice on Monday and then I'll have peace until next March when it starts all over again. Only this time it'll be double: I have an almost identical project that I'll be doing for the University at the same time. I'm not sure how I'm going to swing that. But, hey, the money's good.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Not the shoes.

Ok, so you heard me crying a few weeks back about somebody throwing a fire extinguisher through the window of my car. I had plans for that car. We were going to go places. (Sorry about that. Puns just happen sometimes.) Well, we bought a new--to us--van that the six of us can all ride comfortably in without having to strap one of the boys to the roof. (No matter how much they beg me to, I'm not gonna. Imagine what the neighbors would think when they flashed their winning bug-toothed smiles!) It's a silver Ford Windstar and we're all thrilled with it. I guess the neighbors aren't, though. The other day I came out to put the new license plates on only to be greeted by "Go Emo Kidz" and "bitch" written on the back door in black sharpie ink.
Now, I'm a peace-loving individual and I outwardly restrained myself. But I'm 99.3% sure who did it and in the recesses of my mind, I was taking my Louisville Slugger to their braided heads. I was able to get it off with some effort.

As for the Mustang, we're getting rid of it. We're keeping our other van, a green monstrosity that sucks gas but is useful for hauling video production equipment. The fact is, I'm too lazy to get a new window for a car that is drawing it's last few breaths anyway.

The green van has another useful feature: Ever since we took it to Jiffy Lube this last time, it stalls while idling. But it doesn't stall just any old time. It's only when the light you're waiting for is about to turn green. So you always know when it's time to put it in park, start it off, and get going. Of course, the people honking and swearing at you for not going soon enough are a great help, too.