Jul 25, 2007

Last Chance to Contribute

I'm done filming. I'm done capturing. Editing is 90% complete, and I could finish that, too, but I am under the hopeful impression that some people still want to contribute footage. I know where that footage will go, if I receive it, but I can't hold up production waiting for just one more clip. No more delays.

Working on credits now. Final Cut makes things like scrolling text idiot-proof, so it's not hard to get what's in my head onto the screen; but there's a part of me that's self-conscious of the lack of custom motion graphics. Production levels on bmx videos are way way up, all across the board, and our video will definitely be in the class of "local scene video." That's fine with me. Some of my favorite videos are scene videos...

I edited a sort of "trailer" calling for people to submit their clips.
The full res 12 mb .mov file is available to download here, or you can watch it via YouTube, which is easier, but not nearly as pretty. I also wish I could undo the automatically selected video still, but, ah, well... so it goes. I'm glad we're here.

To everyone that produced--huge thanks.


My daughter arrived at 6 am, Tuesday, the 10th of July. She is perfect.

Seven pounds. Apgar score: 9, 9. The nurse, before she measured length, had me guess how long, and I knew without hesitation that she was exactly twenty inches.


We put up a public flickr slideshow here. As of this morning, her first growth spurt has yet to hit, so she is still balls up to the approximate size of a beautiful, beautiful football.

Markie is her name, after my dad Mark.

Markie Maze Piff.

Jun 7, 2007

all not lost

After returning my $28 Circuit City 6pin-to-4pin firewire cable, I went in search of a 6-to-6, which would enable me to connect two computers directly and hopefully rescue the video project from a dying hard disc. I initially paid $14 for firewire at the Apple Store, and I thought that was a pretty sweet deal, but later the same day found a CraigsList seller with cables for seven dollars a pop. I bought a 6-to-6 and another 6-to-4. (Holy profit margin, CircuitCity!)

The good news doesn't end there. Next morning, I jacked the MacBook into the iMac, booted up (nervously), and transferred forty gigs of data in under an hour. Effortless. This is the part where I express my gratitude to Apple for designing products that work. My goodness. Then I installed Final Cut on the MacBook and attempted to open one of the transfered video project files. These project files are pretty simple, I guess. Each one is just a timeline, not actual video, and the timeline points to specific moments within the raw video files. I had my doubts that the timeline would be smart enough to find its video, now that nothing was in its place any more. But no--project opened as if nothing had happened.

I'd been advised by a "MacGenius" at the Apple Store that, while the iMac hard disk could not be "repaired," I might have luck doing a system "restore," formatting the hard drive, re-installing the operating system, and returning the computer to its factory settings. Maybe the hard drive wasn't, in fact, bad? With all my files backed up, I went for it. It may have worked.

Computer is running and not crashing. Re-transferring the files back via firewire is slower than the first transfer, however. I started the transfer, ran some errands, came back many hours later, and it still said "3 hours remaining." So I cancelled it. Haven't had time to try again.

I forget the specs, but I think the desktop processor is a little more powerful than the laptop. Not sure. Don't want to deal with a bad hard drive. I'll proceed with editing on this machine and fiddle with the iMac when I have time.

The weather has been incredible, and I find myself using my designated bike time for riding instead of editing. I guess that's a good thing, on some level. After eight months riding pegless, I put just a front left peg on for hang-fives, and I was amazed to find that my body knew the balance point. It must have something to do with all this coverage of Josh Betley.

Rolling on the front wheel is an incredible sensation. If I get this trick locked down, I could see myself becoming a dedicated flatlander...

Jun 1, 2007

Every single thing.

Last post, video production was stalled, waiting for three things:

1. Capture cam from Ben, because the one I bought broke.
2. Final Cut disk from Ben, because the application spontaneously stopped working on my computer and needed to be reinstalled.
3. Firewire cable from Ben (to connect camera to computer).

Ben and Atika came up for a visit, and Ben remembered the camera, but nothing else. We visited them in St Louis, and I remembered to grab the disk, but not the cable. So I bought the cable from Circuit City, intending to return it once I'd captured everything--thirty bucks for an item that could be had off ebay for fifteen shipped.

First night I had everything together, I started capturing right away. The problems began promptly. For a select group of tapes, the cap-cam absolutely refuses to play back sound. All the tapes from Ben's trv950, I think, maybe seven in total.

The trv950 was our longtime workhorse, the camera that documented our hardest years of riding, right up until last year, when Ben got married and we began to film a lot less. When we go out filming now, it's always for bangers, but those occasions are fewer and farther between. The trv950 footy is the stuff I had in mind for the video all along, and I've been working with everything else.

So, I captured everything I could, and I gave Ben back his camera.

Working with this small amount of footage, I edited and re-edited, tried out lots of different things. I have this dogmatic belief that focus and detachment are the essential state of mind for writing and editing. And with the right editing, anything can be made to work. After a million painstaking re-edits, I have almost seven minutes that I'm totally happy with. I guess you would call the video a "mixtape." No rider gets his own part, no names on the clips, just super tight, watch it, get fired up, go ride. That kind of thing. I even know exactly where the remaining footy will go, once I figure out how to get it captured.

However, night before last, the computer acted up, taking longer and longer to boot, and crashing sometimes, which never happened before, finally refusing to boot altogether. I suspected a bad hard drive, took it to the Apple Store for diagnosis yesterday, and my suspicion was confirmed. We were able to pull some test files off of the computer, so maybe I'll be able to back everything up. Maybe not. All I need is a six-pin-to-six-pin firewire cable, and I can use the MacBook as an external hard drive.

I went to Circuit City last night with this knowledge, eager to return my useless video-to-computer firewire cable, get my money back, and buy the new computer-to-computer cable.

Denied. Fifteen days past the limit for money-back returns. Blew that one. Well, at least I was still eligible for store credit and could exchange for the new wire.

NO. Circuit City does not stock a six-pin-to-six-pin firewire cable.

So, thirty dollar gift card! That's the update. To recap, I must now

1. Buy computer-to-computer cable.
2. Back up data.
3. Repair or replace hard drive.
4a. Best case scenario: captured video still viable.
4b. Alternate scenario: re-capture and re-edit all footage.

That would bring us back to where we were. Still need to
5. Acquire capture camera.
6. Capture remaining video.
7. Finish editing
8. Figure out how to burn a dvd.
9. Get dvd's duplicated, distributed, etc.

Part of me is surprised at how short this list is, and part of me thinks that the list is impossibly long. Again, it had been my intention to finish this before the baby's birth. I don't mind continuing to work on the project, except that our footage continues to age...

Finish on a high note?.. All of the sudden, winter is over. It's 3 a.m. and seventy degrees out.

Apr 13, 2007


Ben instructed me to go buy a firewire cable at Target to use until he can send me one of his spares. Later, the Target cable can be returned.

I'll try to have the cable in hand before the aforementioned disk arrives. Oh! I'll buy a head cleaner, too.

Apr 12, 2007

epic gamble

Ben bought a capture cam off Craigslist for seventy-five dollars, pretty much never used. Same day he brought it home, an error message occurred--"CONDENSATION, OPERATION PAUSED"--locking the camera up completely.

As he had purchased it locally, Ben went back to the seller, who agreed to refund his money. Then, on a whim, he offered her five dollars for the now valueless item; she accepted his offer.

Googling the error message proved fruitful. JVC's, it turns out, are famous for their oversensitive moisture sensors and terrible customer service. With nothing to lose, some folks had attempted to troubleshoot the problem themselves, and one website provided a hopeful solution. The site directs the camera owner to disassemble the housing and to unplug a certain wire from the circuitboard: a "hard" reset.

And with that, Ben had his five dollar, almost new, capture cam.

I was bidding low on a lot of "as-is" eBay cameras and losing, when I came across a promising Craigslist post for a JVC camcorder with error message. Asking price: $100. I inquired hopefully as to the specific model and error message, and it proved to be exactly the same as Ben's. So, same afternoon, I drove to the seller's house.

He was a teenager, and this camera was in rough shape. It had seen a lot of use. I calculated its actual value to him ($5) and its secret value to me (~$75), and made my offer: $25. "How about forty?" he countered. Next room over, within view, his mother was washing dishes and eavesdropping. I asked how much he had paid new. "Umm, about three hundred."

"It was a lot more than that," Mother chimed in, without looking up from her work. She wasn't going to let her son be taken advantage of, and she was also utterly clueless.

So I paid forty, knowing that if the hard reset worked, I had scored a tremendous deal, and if it didn't, that I had been beaten by a fifteen-year-old. But I could not have left without the camera, wondering. I had to know. That's what I was paying for, really: knowing.


I unplugged the wire and waited the prescribed five minutes before re-plugging, installed the battery, powered up, and no change: "CONDENSATION." Powered down, removed battery, unplugged, waited. Patiently.

After a full hour, I plugged in the cord. I installed the battery, and the camera made its familiar "Battery installed" chime. Then it chimed two more times, glitchy sounding, and then nothing.

Camera never turned on again.


I gave it to Ben, who intends to eBay it for scrap. In the meantime, he's loaning me his cap cam. However, Final Cut (the video editing program) has stopped working and needs to be reinstalled, and I left the disk in St Louis. Ben sent that out yesterday.

Once it arrives, I think things will move along swiftly. After everything is captured, I will throw together an "Editing Has Begun" trailer and post that up.

For the time being, I wait.

Feb 21, 2007


Back in November, I had a blog entry in mind that I was looking forward to writing. It was going to be a run-down of all the gear that goes into my riding life--bike, rack, tools, pads, cameras, computer, ipod... I delayed it because I hadn't received my new camcorder yet. I was going to get my brother Ben's well-used TRV950, which had just come back from a warranty repair with all new internals. He was going to give me a good price, and I was going to pay in installments. The camera arrived at my house, and Jaime (my wife) was surprised at at the apparent wear. "How old is this thing?" she asked.

"Ummm, three or four years?"

"Why is it so heavy?"

I didn't have an answer. Previously, we had shared in the excitement of documenting our life with three ccd's, but at the price we were paying, she was expecting something in newer condition. Later that night, the camera started glitching, and I was glad for an excuse to pull out of the deal. Ben assured me that I wasn't obligated, and Jaime encouraged me to continue shopping for the perfect camera. I felt glad that I had managed to avoid what would have been a disunifying force.

Time passed, and I further appreciated that I didn't have the financial burden. The start date for my new job was delayed by a month, and on my first payday two weeks later, we learned that I am paid "in arrears"--that is, I am paid not for the most recent pay period, but for the previous pay period. And I didn't have a previous pay period yet. So it was two more weeks until a paycheck. And then we learned that we will have a child arriving on July 1st--joyous news, truly. But as our budget seemed to grow tighter and tighter, I felt blessed that I hadn't taken the camera.

The TRV950 went back for even more repairs, and Ben sold the package to TJ Henderson (pictured in the October 29 blog entry), who will make good use of it.

My old JVC camcorder had crapped out on me sometime during the summer, and I applied my $450 Circuit City credit to the purchase of my first digital camera, a Nikon D70s (see Henry and Murphy in the snow). I didn't mind giving up the JVC, as it was a pretty terrible videocamera, but I suddenly found myself without the ability to capture footage. That has been the greatest frustration--all these tapes just sitting here waiting...

Then, last month, it occurred to me that I need not wait for the funds to purchase a $1500 3ccd camcorder--I could spend fifty bucks on a capture camera right away, and that would keep me busy editing for quite some time. Potentially, I wouldn't even care if it worked as a camera. All I need is playback ability and firewire output. I'm very excited about all this. I could win an eBay auction for a dollar+shipping and get what I need.

I will do the gear run-down soon, perhaps.

The blog's original concept was to document the production of "our video." Well, there's the update for the past three months.

In other news, I finally completed my bachelor's, my new job is great, the child in Jaime's womb is now twenty weeks old and healthy, and the snow is melting.