Wednesday, January 14, 2009

24: Revenge of the Codec

I used to have a massive head of thick, blond hair. Then I tore it all out in the last 24 hours.

See, the footage for Game Night was exported directly from the camera into a Mac with Final Cut. Then it was put onto disks and sent to me, at which point I handed them to Editor, who imported them directly into his Mac in Final Cut. Then he put all the footage on my hard drive and handed it to me, where I attempted to open it in Adobe Premiere on my PC.

Yesterday I didn't know what a codec was. Now the word "codec" has pushed out every other thought I ever had. What are zombies? Are they some form of codec?

After a friend confirmed that the files operate fine on a Mac, I knew it was a hardware issue, apparently a missing codec, which is some kind of thing used to do some kind of other thing. Something about videos and languages and whatnot. I dunno, but apparently the codec is the single most vital piece of software to come along since the squiggly lines that tell you when you misspelled words.

I even made it so the kids were working at their desks all day so I could figure this out while they drew up character sketches and took periodic assessments. When I say this is all I've thought about today, I mean the only time I wasn't thinking of codecs was the hour I was running suicides on the roof of the parking deck at the gym with Trainer. I've never felt so happy to be running suicides.

So finally I found that there is only one codec that will render Mac files viewable in Quick Time or Premiere and it cost $95. They're having a sale on it though. $23 off. Weeeee.

Just now I transferred one of the disks to my hard drive because - well, in the process of trying to fix the whole thing I kind of fucked up my files and had to reload them - and I was watching season 1 of 24, which is AWESOME and also much slower paced than the current season, and I suddenly looked over and realized it was past my bedtime.

Jack Bauer's 24: saving Pre-President Palmer from certain doom. My 24: Codecs. It was kind of like 24 from Chloe's perspective if she never got shot at or gassed or watched anybody die or had to quit her job in the middle of the day on principle or if she didn't actually know that much about computers. But otherwise it was just like that.

Anyway, the good news is I've figured it out and tomorrow I will finally, FINALLY be able to cut my own footage.


  1. Good luck with the edit! Since you keep typing "Final Draft" instead of "Final Cut," I assume you must be new to editing. If you have any questions, feel free to fire them away at me. I've been editing in Final Cut Pro for six years, currently working on an indie feature.

  2. Well, yes new to editing, but the typo is the result of an addled brain. I know the difference.

    Thanks for the offer.

  3. Zombies and Humans are different Codecs ... hmmm interesting... must consider that.

  4. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Yeah, I went through a similar editing nightmare a few months back on a short. Our FX guy was a PC / After Effects guy. The editor used Final Cut. I was DP and said to use "no compression" when transferring footage from the PC to Mac. Off to Australia I go for a vacation.

    During that time our editor gave "Uncompressed" Quicktime footage to the PC FX guy. Our PC guy went crazy and wasn't too happy when I returned to the States. The "mistake" was using "uncompressed YUV" versus compression type "none."

    When I recounted my story to an experienced editor-post guy I know, he laughed. I think he was laughing at me and not with.

  5. A codec is a compression-decompression algorithm. It takes files that are too honkin' big to conveniently work with and makes them smaller to store, then "re-expands" the file on the fly while you're using it. You use a codec every time you rip music from a CD into MP3 files, and again every time you play those MP3 files. (And now you use them with your video files, too.)


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