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I’m seeing stars. Or rather, avi’s and mpg’s. SMS asked me to video the TRANSCODE Philippines conference last June. Now a month later, I’m still sorting out, converting, and renaming what feels like hundreds of .mpgs, and .mp4s and .movs and .avis and .wmvs and- (I actually rechecked this list to see if I typed all formats).

When SMS gave me this task in May (YES MAY one month before their arrival), they for some reason thought I am good at making videos. How do you tell them  I only make home videos? I don’t even own a video camera and I only have Windows Movie Maker on my laptop. I own  a Casio digital camera with 10.2 mega pixels and have access to a Samsung WB500. also a mere digital photocamera.  And you can’t plug external microphones on those. If I had a microphone.

So I panicked.

Eventually, after my supervisor gave me some examples of videos they meant, I started breathing again. They were one-shot-no-montage-shot-in-office stuff. I thought hey, I can do that. If I did some minor editing, its already better.

A TINY CAMERA ON A 1,5 METER TRIPOD

So like a true amateur videographer, I borrowed my uncle’s camera, a dvd recordable Sony Handycam. He even lent me his tripod for the task. I got me some empty dvds. When I got there, he says, no its the MINI-dvds. And I looked at the camera realizing the dvds I bought would never on earth fit in THAT. So I head off to superstar mall I and went in ALL the electronic gadgets stores. They ALL either didn’t sell the thing or they were sold out. At the conference location I go to superstar mall II, they were out of stock too. Its like the whole world decided to film with mini-dvds.

I felt like freaking David facing Goliath only I wasn’t so brave. Conference participants were government officials, presidents of foundations, and vice presidents of banks and here I am mounting this puny-looking Samsung on this HUGE tripod to film them. “Pebble and slingshot took out the giant, ” I chant to myself.


CAMERAS SHOWERED FROM THE HEAVENS

When people saw that I was dead serious, something interesting happened. People started giving me their cameras to use. The head of Scalabrini Migration Center (organizer of TRANSCODE) lent me his Sony Handycam, which was exactly the same as my uncle’s camera only it had a harddisk. It wasn’t insured but he said he trusts me with it.  He even gave me his simpler Sony DSC for pictures. Then someone asked me to take pictures with a  fancy Canon, and then another let me use their Fuji and another Canon and another Fuji. So instead of one camera and I had SEVEN to my disposal. They weren’t video cameras but heck, now I had more pebbles.


TURNING CLIPS INTO SHORT FILM

After the conference I started on the assignment: two or three shorts (3-5 minutes) and one long one (20 minutes) and use the footage from the cameras I was lent. Then new issues arose.

My regular video editor can’t open most of the formats the various cameras recorded footage on.  So I tried several freeware video editing software but none of them does what I want them to do. So I went back to Windows Movie Maker. I did manage to download a codec and now it opens .avi.  In the end, I may not be able to change the humble patched-look about my videos, but it doesn’t mean it will look bad. Now I just have to survive the sorting of hundreds of clips.

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