Monday, 13 February 2012

Cecil B DeMille I am not...

Alex can't believe how much fun this all is

We are starting to identify a few ‘regulars’; people who seem happy to patronise our humble premises more than just once. One of them is a Cuban engineer who is busy building some houses across the other side of the village. He misses his family who are back in Cuba and has taken quite a shine to Alex who in turn, adores him.

He pitched up today and started flashing a video camera. This thing was no larger than a couple of packets of fags so I was intrigued. He took a couple of photos with it and we downloaded them onto my laptop. Not bad.

I was really disappointed when my camera was pinched a few months ago and more so once I moved down here as I really would like to record the before, during and after pictures of the build here. So I said to him, ‘Give us a cabby!’ and nicked his camera so that I could video the site as it is now.

I have never made a video in my life and had absolutely no idea what to do once I had transferred the files, for although I thought I had shot one movie, this apparently translated to millions of files on my computer, none of which would play in Windows media player. So I tried to import them into Windows movie maker only to be told there were codecs missing. WTF are they? I was annoyed but not surprised, I have long since ceased to be taken in by Microsoft marketing hype claiming that everything is seamless on their platform. We all know it is crap and is the fundamental reason that even though you pay to have a system professionally installed, your ageing Mother is still unable to send a simple frigging email which is why you do not know if she is alive or dead.

Now, I do not know what you are like but this sort of thing effing irritates me. Common sense says I should leave this until the morning, take it easy and work through it logically. Bugger that. I WILL post a video, my first one, even though it may be unscripted crap and camera shake has all my viewers spewing with sea sickness. So I went onto the interweb and downloaded a promising looking programme that said even a moron can make and upload a video. ‘That’s the one for me’ I thought. 140 odd mega bytes and a couple of hours later I had it installed.

Just two things. First, it turned 30 Mbs of video files into Giga Bytes. Secondly it said that unless I paid them a squillion dollars it would stamp a watermark in the middle of the video, which it duly proceeded to do. Still I refused to give up. I can live with the watermark, as I hope you can for the time being, but I needed to get the file size down if I were to have any chance of uploading it via the bean can and string internet system I have here. So I downloaded another programme and got the file down to just under 20 Mbs.

So, Ladies and gentlemen, my first ever video, wholly unscripted as it was a very spur of the moment thing, lousy camera handling, awful aperture control, you name it I did it wrong. This is a crap film shot this afternoon at the Barra de Kwanza. Please excuse the watermark in the middle of the screen, please excuse everything but at least it gives you an idea of where this madman has washed up.

Maybe Chris over at Grow Fish Eat could give me some advice...


    I love it.... makes Trelawnyd look just a little bit grey!

  2. Well that's my good deed for the day!

    Fidel the Cuban has said he will bring me a camera in a week so I will learn how to do this properly and will then be able to both improve my camera handling and keep you informed of progress. I do seem to like the word 'basically' don't I?

  3. Chris would make the video more Hollywood.. but it still have a certain charm tomentings

  4. I would appreciate Chris' advice on these damn codecs. Media player just has sound, no picture and movie maker won't import the files. Also I noticed that when I am speaking to the camera, my lip synch is all wrong.

  5. It's the last line that really makes it


  6. I did not plan to say that, as I said this was unscripted, I had a quick chance to use Fidel the Cuban's camera so went for it. As I looked at my plot, it just popped out so I guess that makes it all the more sincere. I have been here over a week now and each day I feel more and more content. It beats the shit out of the suburbs. OK, I am skint, I can't even afford a car at the moment but who cares? It isn't as if I need to get myself to the office every day! All things considered, I have made it, I am a beach bum with no debts and a bar on the beach, a sea and a river to fish in, and a forest to go hunting in.

  7. Expect the first wave of squatters to arrive from London shortly

  8. Any tall, leggy Ukrainians amongst them?

  9. If by "tall, leggy Ukrainians" you mean short chubby plumbers then yes

  10. Oh, YOU!!

    God I am slow sometimes!

    You would not believe the miles of plumbing I will need. Two 15,000 litre tanks, pumps, piping, cesspits, two separate systems, one using river water for toilets and irrigation and one using clean water for taps and showers. We are talking a small hamlet's worth here.

    So, if you pay your own way out and shoot or catch your own food, you are welcome!

    (get the leggy Ukrainian to carry your tools)

  11. I have cracked the media player and movie maker issues using K-Lite Codec Pack full.

    I would still like a recommendation for a free or cheap video editing software that would allow me to edit by frame so I can cut out any crappy bits.

  12. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

    I knew roughly were you were but was not sure of the exact location.

    I hope over time Goolge Maps will show some of your building progress.

    For the video editing software, I cannot personally recommend one but... usually video camera come with a DVD that has "reasonable" software and would have installed the codecs. So Fidel might be able to lend that to you. Also, I am not sure if the link will come though but this search will show some options to try...

    The only thing I learnt about using a video camera is to pan and zoom much, much slower than you think you should.

  13. Hi Tom

    Brilliant film, what are you on about?

    Awesome place, just awesome. River, sea, fishing - do die for.

    I can see why you're out there. I am literally green with envy.

    Anyways, codecs are just ways of compressing the footage so you can upload from a manageable file size. There are f***ing loads of them. I'll dig out my settings and forward them to you soon, but they may not be available or suitable for you anyway.

    All my (very amateur) movies are done on Mac's which were basically made for this stuff so it's easier. Windows? Pah!!

    I've started to upload my movie stuff onto youtube and THEN import it on the blog as the quality is better that way (less compression needed) then just uploading onto blogger, but can take a while to upload it onto youtube.

    Practice dear boy, practice.

    I'd have said you were more of a John Huston myself...

  14. Hi Chris!

    I too hate windows and went over to Mac in 2007 but sadly the Mac died and I have not been able to afford to replace it so I am using Marcia's windows laptop. Soon, though, very soon.

    I cracked my issues with media player and movie maker with the K-Lite Codec pack. Fidel the Cuban will be bringing me my digital video camera on Monday so then I will get the chance to practice, practice, practice.

    In the meantime I will look for a simple video editing suite that allows me to edit by frame and add a commentary.

    What happened with your bees, btw?

    I like all the blogs I follow but yours is the only one I have so far read completely and I agree with you, going into the city is, for me, quite traumatic now. I am director of a security company providing services to International airlines operating into Luanda but last year made myself a non executive director so I don't have to go into town anymore! That is a story in itself: I had a mate from England staying with me. For two years he had been sruggling to get a foothold in Angola. The whisky was well below the label of the bottle one evening when I suddenly said, 'How would you like my job? You'll have a salary, I'll get you a work visa, you'll be sorted'. One board meeting later he was CEO and I headed south to the beach.

  15. I'm trying to restrain myself from building an argument to get my wife to let me head out to work at your new place. Those pictures (and video) are killing me; the place looks amazing.

    I'm cheap, too - probably don't need much more than those two doggies of yours.

  16. Josh, I think we can afford to feed you something other than the dogs...

    For a start, you can catch your own fish, there's crabs and lobsters out there, plenty of chickeens,feral pigs in the forest and bacon and eggs in Marcia's shop. I have just polished off a plate of bacon, eggs, red beans in home made tomato sauce, blood sausage, fried onions and baked potatoes. Last night was chicken curry and the night before that freshly caught Grouper baked in a tin foil wrap.

    We may be skint but we are eating well and I am now going to wash the last load down with a cold 'Charlie' (Carlsberg Beer).

    Give me a few more months so that I can offer you more than a hammock slung between two posts in a half finished restaurant and you are most welcome here.

  17. As for skills, my wife is a sea kayak instructor and professor of English who specializes in teaching English to students of other languages. She is also a financial whiz, having once worked for pension administration firm.

    And me? I could be a great fishing guide, if the clients don't mind the guide vomiting at every trip... oh! Eu falu um poco ji portugese... though I can't spell it.

  18. OK Josh, give me six months to finish the place off and then you and the missus are hired.

    If you vomit, just tell the clients you are chumming to attract the big ones. Sounds better than my usual excuse which is usually, 'Sorry, I got slammed last night...'

    Bring your own aprons and Kayaks.


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