Tag Archives: DVD

Memories of an X-Millennial: Batman – The Animated Series

So I thought a good irregular feature here on the blog would be talking about something I remember from my childhood in the 90’s and looking into how it holds up now, as a guy in my 30’s. I’ll admit to owning more than my fair share of 90’s media on DVD and reading and watching things that are “technically” too young for me.

A word about the term X-Millennial. I’ve spoken before about not really feeling part of either Gen X or the Millennials. Technically speaking I’m probably a Millennial, though I’m not what most people think of when the use the term. And I’m not alone. There’s a group of us who have some of the values of the X’ers, and the idealism of the Mille’s. I’ve heard this called the “Oregon Trail” generation, but I’m trying on a new term today.

First up in the wayback machine … Batman – The Animated Series

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia this show ran from 1994-1995 (producing about 90 episodes), but I know it was in re-runs for years after that.

This show defined my early perception of the character and tone of Batman and his rogues gallery. It’s been pointed out to me that Joker is a little more impotent than his comic book form, the WB show didn’t allow for the depiction of murder which is kinda Joker’s thing. But any loss in tone is more than made up for in Mark Hamill’s gleeful performance. It’s not a coincidence that most of this voice cast showed up in the popular Batman games of the last few years starting with Arkham Asylum.

Watching the episodes now I can feel what might be perceived today as slow pacing in a couple of episodes, but this seems reflective of the Batman titles of the era. Indeed this was my first introduction to some classic tales by Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman and Max Allen Collins without even knowing it. I tend to favor a more light-hearted dark knight, without descending into full Adam West absurdity. We definitely see Batman’s angst in movies like Mask of the Phantasm and encounters with The Scarecrow. Guilt over believing he has broken his code of not killing it was destroys a Batman robot duplicate (from some of my favorite episodes involving the robo-cloning computer HARDAC).

My favorite episodes still are Blind as a Bat in which a temporarily blinded Batman must face off against the Penguin, the aforementioned HARDAC episodes particularly His Silicon Soul which features robot-Batman, the whole Mr. Freeze saga (starting with Heart of Ice), Harley and Ivy featuring the Joker’s girlfriend (sort of) teaming up with Poison Ivy on their own crime spree free of men.

Watching these again I don’t think I realized how many recurring characters and elements ran in the background, particularly Rupert Thorne and the gangster elements. The origins of most rogues are told, notably Harvey Dent as DA and eventual turn to Two-Face. The show isn’t just a series of one-off adventures, but does build on one comes before.

Overall, these are good as remember them, maybe not as good as some of the best of the comics, but they hold their own nonetheless. And despite some deliberate pacing, there are other storylines that are told more tightly and dramatically than serial comics can manage.

Trivia Question: There were a number of notable actors who gave their voice talents to this show including at least 7 from the Star Trek films and movies. Can you name them all? Hint: As far as I know TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY are represented as well as at least two actors from the movies.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Trailing Edge of Technology

We live in age of fairly continuous advancement in technology. Admittedly a lot of that progress is incremental, processors get a little denser, hard drives get a little bigger, and internet speeds stay roughly the same. But in my roughly 30 years on this earth I’ve seen the transition away from big floppies, to small floppies, to tapes, to CD’s, to DVD’s, to flash drives, to portable hard drives to solid state drives to the cloud.

But the thing is, as advanced as we are, there are a lot of us who still use older technologies in our everyday lives.

I used floppy disks regularly (the 3.5″ variety) until about 2003. I didn’t have a CD burner on my computer until later that year and that was also roughly the same time I saw someone with a flash drive. The year before I even distributed a software project for a country simulation on floppy disk. I used to cary around a little white box that had about 60 disks containing all my programs, games, books, music and files. The disks were even color coded to indicate what was on them. I still had a floppy drive on a computer until last year when I finally sold my old desktop (though I’m still searching for a reliable USB powered one so I can get old games).

Adopting new technology is expensive. My first flash drive was twice the size of the white box in terms of storage capacity, and cost $40 (for 128MB). My first external hard drive was $300 for 320GB (I don’t buy computers now for much more than that price). My first computer was $1300 and my first laptop was $800. My first tablet was $200 (which may have been a little cheap compared to the iPad, but still). CD’s used to cost 15 dollars and DVD movies the same or maybe even five bucks more.

And we don’t throw out technology immediately after we buy it. We try to figure out what’s a good technology to invest in and stick with so we can build our collections. CD’s and DVD’s get a bad rap in this regard. Even though a lot of things have moved to digital or pure streaming services, computers are still very compatible with the optical disk format. It’ll probably be another 5-10 years before getting an optical drive on a standard size laptop will be an add-on not a default. And if we drive cars, those are usually at least five years behind in terms of media adoption. The CD was created in 1982 but my Dad’s 96′ Taurus still had a tape deck. In fact most of my generation’s first high-school cars had a tape deck and had to use that weird tape to CD converter thingy (God knows how it worked) to plug-in a portable CD player.

Even those of us making a decent middle class wage can’t afford to adopt everything, and definitely not in its first year. Sometimes this works to our benefit as it allows us to avoid dead technologies like HD DVD and before that Laser Disk (and probably soon the new Apple watch).

But one of the best illustrations of the trailing edge is the library.

I worked in my local library in 2002-2003, around the time DVD’s were first starting to take over for VHS in the collection. Now at the time DVD’s had been around for about five years (the first one I ever owned might have been in 2000 and it was a gift). A lot of people still had VHS players and extensive VHS collections and didn’t have the money to switch over. The library wants to serve the greatest swath of the public and so it will often keep technolgies long after they are “dead” in the public conciousness, because the reality is many people still use that tech. Today that trailing edge for VHS is thrift stores. The one in Delaware has a whole long wall of VHS tapes to be had for a quarter. For those of us who didn’t want to pay 20-30 bucks for the original versions of the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD, finding them for a quarter is pretty good.

The same can be said of the libraries’ books. Sure a lot of us have tablets, eReaders and smart phones that can all read eBooks. And libraries, including my local branch, are beginning to focus as much on digital lending as phyiscal. But not everyone has the ability to read eBooks. I gained mine maybe in late 2011. eBook sales while rising most years are still a small part of the book market. Books are literally a dead-(tree) technology, but I have a feeling they may have one of the longest trailing edges of anything we’ve ever created.

What old tech have you used recently? Remember having to rewind tapes with a pencil?

Leave a comment

Filed under Trube On Tech

Trube on Tech: Making a DVD Video

Elle was kind enough to provide the first question to “Ask a tech guy”. She’s having a little trouble burning DVD’s from her Sony Handycam:

I cannot get Nero 12 to make a DVD from my Sony Handycam video camera. I know it can be done because I was successful about a year ago. Now each time I connect and pull up the video and try to burn it tells me it cannot write to a DVD disk and instead asks for a CD. I cannot find an option to change it to DVD.  My only option has been to create it on windows media which will only play on a computer. When I Google the problem I get everything but an answer! If you can’t help me with this at least I vented.  ;)Thanks!

Elle

After some digging and a little more feedback from Elle, we found out that her camera creates MPEG (.mpg) files. While I have neither Nero 12, nor a Sony Camcorder, I have a decent amount of experience creating DVD’s from all sorts of video files.

Today I’ll cover how to make a DVD from any video file, and more importantly, how to burn it to a DVD.

For today we’ll need a couple of (free) third-party tools:

We’ll be creating a DVD working directory from her video files, and then cover how to burn these to a DVD that will play on most DVD players.

Creating a DVD

1) Open DVD Flick and click Add Title. Browse to your video file on your computer and click Open. (I recommend copying the file off the camera to somewhere on your computer for ease of generation). You can add multiple videos by repeating the Add Title step.

2) You’ll see your title in the main editor view.

DVDFlickAuthor001

The indicator on the left-hand side shows how much of a standard DVD the final video will fill. Typically I recommend burning between 90 minutes to three hours on a single DVD (the quality will automatically adjust in DVD Flick). My example video is almost two-hours, the latest live special from This American Life.

3) Click Edit Title. You’ll see this screen pop-up:

DVDFlickAuthor002

From here you can change the title of your video file (Name) and choose a thumbnail from the video that will show up on any menus we create. You can adjust the time index by using the arrows, or by typing in a time (takes a moment to refresh the picture).

4) Click Chapters on the left of this dialog. From here we can create some chapters for easy navigation in a long video.

DVDFlickAuthor003

For the moment I just went with uniform 10 minute chapters.

5) Click Accept to save Title changes.

6) Click Project Settings to adjust the overall title of your DVD. For the moment the default settings should be fine.

DVDFlickAuthor004

I’m using kind of a long name here (as you’ll see when you create the menus). You’ll probably want to keep the title to 20 characters or less. Click Accept to save changes.

7) Click Menu Settings. This allows you to create a basic menu for your DVD based on a couple of pre-selected templates.

DVDFlickAuthor005

8) You can preview how your menu will look and operate by clicking the Preview button.

DVDFlickAuthor006

As you can see, my project title was a little long.

9) The preview will also show you any titles you’ve added by clicking the Select Title option.

DVDFlickAuthor007

Click the X at the top-right to close the preview. Click Accept to save menu changes.

10) Save your project by clicking Save Project. A saved project will work as long as the video file is kept in the same place (so it’s a good idea to copy this file to your computer).

DVDFlickAuthor008

11) You’re now ready to create your DVD files. Click Create DVD to create your DVD.

DVDFlickAuthor009

12) Running this will take a number of hours so DVD Flick has some built in ways to entertain you. Click Entertain me if you’re really bored.

DVDFlickAuthor010

Actually this program runs pretty much in the background, so you can use your computer normally while it’s working. You can speed it up (a little) by adjusting the Process Priority up.

13) When the program is finished running it will create a DVD folder that looks something like this:

DVDFlickAuthor011

The sub-folder dvd contains the two folders AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS required for all DVD videos. It’s these folders we’ll be burning to a DVD. Here’s what the inside of the VIDEO_TS folder will look like:

DVDFlickAuthor012

The number of VOB files will vary based on your project.

Now we’re ready to burn our movie.

Burning a DVD movie

1) Put a blank DVD in the tray and Open InfraRecorder. Select Video Disc from the front menu.

InfraRecorder001

 

2) This will bring up the basic project window. Browse to your DVD folder and add the AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders as shown:

InfraRecorder002

3) Click Actions–>Burn Compilation–>To a Compact Disc (works for both DVD’s and CD’s).

InfraRecorder003

4) Burning options are pretty simple (defaults are probably fine). Click OK to burn your disc.

InfraRecorder004

And you’re done. It might take a little longer than the Nero process did, but it offers a lot more flexibility with the kind of DVD’s you can make. Nero may have a DVD video burning function like the one shown in InfraRecorder, so you may want to try that, but that will typically require the AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders we generated with DVD Flick.

Let me know if you have any questions, and for those of you with tech problems of your own, feel free to submit them in the comments, or by using the Contact menu option. If you do, you’ll get a personalized response like this one.

2 Comments

Filed under Trube On Tech