Slap Happy

If you hit a stumbling block while working on a project, one of the best things you can do is just set it aside for a bit. Sometimes, the solution to a problem will come to you in your sleep. Sometimes it will come to you the next day. Sometimes, as in the case of the 30 gigs worth of Three Stooges videos I recorded, a solution will come to you three years later.

In 2004 I bought a video capture card for my old computer. While the software included with the card wasn’t nearly as robust as the PVR software I’m running now, it did allow me to use the card as a simple digital VCR. I card allowed me to watch television in a window on my computer, and record those programs as MPEG files directly to my hard drive. Recording programs was simple; converting them to DVD was not as simple. In 2004 there were several time consuming hoops that needed to be hopped through in order to get my home recordings onto a DVD that we could watch in our living room.

One of the first things I recorded with my card was a Three Stooges marathon. I believe the marathon took place on April Fool’s Day, 2004, and ran for 24 hours. I hit record and let it run for the duration of the marathon. The next day, there they were — 30 gigs worth of Stooge-slapping nyuks. But then the real question came — what on earth was I going to do with them? The software I was using at the time would only squeeze about an hour’s worth of video onto a DVD, and I wasn’t interested in burning 24 DVDs worth of stooge shorts. I didn’t want to delete the files, but I didn’t know what to do with them either. So, for the past three years, they’ve sat dormant on my hard drive.

In three years, a lot of things have changed. Divx and other similar codecs now allow you to greatly compress video without losing quality. GBPVR (my “PiVo” system I’ve been going on and on about) plays MPEG and AVI files in our living room just fine. I’ve been downloading cartoons and sitcoms from various places and putting them on the computer for the kids to watch. Suddenly, like a cream pie, it hit me in the face.

For the past several days I’ve been loading those Three Stooges recordings into a video editor, chopping them up into individual episodes, and saving them as compressed Divx files. The increase in computing power over the last few years has made this possible. While the process still takes a while, we’re talking about days now instead of the weeks or months like it would have taken a few years ago. In just a few more days I’ll have almost every Three Stooges short, exported out into individual files, ready for my family and I to watch at a moment’s notice.

I knew if I waited long enough a solution would present itself!

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