Archive for the ‘Software’ Category


What is the Best Video Editing Software?

To start with, we’re going to compare Apple Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas Pro. I know these products are only indirect competitors due to their different platforms, but these are the only programs I have extensively used. If you would like more specific advise, you’ll have to ask someone else.

Final Cut Pro (FCP) is very much an industry standard and is often used along side with high-end systems from Avid, Media100, or Leitch in production facilities. Many theatrical movies and television shows have been edited in FCP which Apple loves to tout at industry conventions. FCP is also a standard in many education institutes so most new editors entering the video industry are trained on it.

That being said, most timeline-based editors such as Vegas and FCP function in a very similar manner. Although the specific names of functions and keyboard shortcuts may change, the same concepts apply and are fairly easy to apply to different editing software. Most new editors (usually with a Premiere or FCP background) can be trained on Vegas very quickly.

Personally I use Vegas because I have a PC and therefore cannot use FCP on it. I considered Adobe Premiere as well several years ago before making the purchase, but chose Vegas for several reasons:

  1. Vegas supports putting nearly any file on the timeline without additional conversions. Premiere requires many “non-standard” files (such as DivX) to be converted to a supported format before they can be edited.
  2. Vegas supports 3D tracks allowing for fairly complex compositions right in the timeline without need for addition FX software.
  3. Vegas supported real-time native HDV playback from the timeline (which Premiere didn’t at the time).
  4. Vegas bundles DVD Architect which (at the time) was significantly less expensive than a Premiere/Encore bundle.

I know I’ve dived into a bit of a Premiere comparison above, but it is another major player. On the PC side, Premiere has some advantages over Vegas as well. Premiere’s built-in titler is far superior to Vegas, and DVD Authoring with Adobe Encore is well integrated with Photoshop making complex DVD Menus way easier to build then using Sony’s DVD Architect.

On the Mac side, FCP has a number of advantages over Vegas including a fantastic titler (LiveType), superior DVD Authoring (with DVD Studio Pro), and supports a variety of hardware that Vegas does not.

If you’re planning on editing for primarily your own purposes, I would suggest you go ahead and learn Vegas. It’s a very powerful piece of software and quite inexpensive compared to other players in the marketplace. If you’re planning on getting a Mac in the future anyways OR want software experience that is more marketable, buy FCP with it and get started with that instead.


How to Convert PowerPoint Presentations to DVD

Many people have taken the time to create large complex PowerPoint presentations only to discover there isn’t a simple method of converting these files for playback on a DVD player. Several companies offer software to facilitate this process, but the software often messes up the timing, music, animations, and fonts contained in the original PowerPoint. While this might be acceptable for simple presentations, more complex ones will require a different solution.

  • VGA or DVI Scan Converter
    Several video hardware companies have created scan converters which will convert the RGB video feed from your computer into a regular NTSC video signal. You could then take this signal and capture it back to your computer using a DV camcorder. The main problems with this arrangement is there will be some quality loss depending on the hardware you decide to purchase. It’s also a multiple step process that is very time consuming. I do not recommend this method.
  • Camtasia Studio (
    TechSmith has created an excellent piece of software called Camtasia that (among other things) functions as a plug-in to Microsoft PowerPoint and enables direct screen captures of the presentation while it is running. This is superior to most software as it still uses Microsoft PowerPoint to play the presentation. As long as your computer is capable of simultaneously playing and recording your PowerPoint there are rarely any playback issues.

I recommend Camtasia Studio as the best method for converting PowerPoint files to DVD. This software can be purchased for $299 from


CodeBreak is Back Online

Back in 2001, I wrote a simple PHP script called CodeBreak that performs a nifty function. It will take a word or phrase and try to create a completely different sentence out of it that can be decoded using Morse Code. This science of hiding information is called cryptography.

It’s hard to explain exactly how it works so you might as well just try it out for yourself. I listed it for awhile on and got a very positive response from those who understood how it worked.

This project wasn’t as useful as I’d originally anticipated because each letter of Morse Code is matched to an entire word in English which doesn’t leave many options for words using my current database. A word list importer and converter is included so you try your matches against a different language. Download the code and try it.