iBook, iMovie, Bam and Me

To write all those papers at the SJSU's one-year MBA program, my wife has purchased an Apple iBook with a 14" display (Model M9848LL/A). It's a little larger for her purposes than the 12" but it does have a "SuperDrive" which gives her the ability to burn DVDs.

Well, a couple of nights ago, at the prompting of my wife who was running a little late on a deadline for a presentation to a non-profit organization and with no manuals on hand, and almost zero prior experience on OS X, I was able to make a relatively good documentary about the children of Bam and burn it on a DVD, with menu items and music in the background, all in less than 1.5 hours (excluding the last DVD burning step, which took a bit of time).

Can doing creative work like this get any faster? I still remember helping with documenaries at the School of Journalism at Berkeley. It would take literally for ever to put a master tape together.

I found the courage to do the work on Mac partly watching what my older daughter, Yasmine, had been able to create (a little movie of her own on Ali Karimi, the FC Bayern München offensive mid-fielder) while lying on the sofa to get over a minor cold. (I've been encouaging my daughter to finish up the little piece and post it on her blog. She wants to add some "credits"—what for, I'm not reallly sure.) I do have to say that without Mac OS X's very user-friendly environment I would have only continued to dream about doing anything like what I did the other night.

With a $19 retractable Firewire cable bought at Frys on the way home that same day (Tuesday), I connected the miniDV camera to the make. I pushed the "import" button on iMovie to import the video from the miniDV Sony camera. All the clips on the miniDV were recognized as clips. I pulled the clips down to make a rough cut in iMovie and add some background santoor music to one of the scenes and trimmed some of the clips. Now, I had a rough cut. I moved the clips from the rough cut into little named chapters on the iDVD application. Then I turned to iDVD, created the menu items for the DVD, using other remaining clips, bits and pieces. I pushed the "burn" button and went to sleep. Next morning, I got up and watched the DVD on my home DVD player. It was one of the easiest and most pleasant things I've done since my summer holidays, and it confirmed my decision to purchase a 20" iMac for the girls.

As I said, the movie I made was about the children of Bam. Here is a little more about that.

My wife took the video in July on a Sony mini DV camera when she visited Bam with my younger daughter, Negin, along with some friends who have been working with NGOs to bring assitance to the children of Bam.

The city of Bam had been known for its world's largest and oldest adobe structures and neighborhood (estimated to be at least 1500 years old). Not only the historical site but also the whole city was destroyed in an earthquake a couple of years ago. (When I was a child, we remembered Bam as the city that had the best dates in Iran not so much for its historical uniqueness.)

So, I'm still pleasantly surprised how easy it was to put together such a simple documentary so quickly. I do have to say that Liana, my wife, did have some very good footage and clips to work with.

And now, I have to wait for the reviews by the audience—and that will depend on how generous they will be with their check-books.

Now, will the children of Bam ever be able to get to play with toys like the ones we used to make the documentary?


Isn't it incredible what you can do with a digital camera, a PC and some free software !

Every six months or so I create a DVD containing a couple of hours of video and a few hundred photos which I mail to friends and family (scattered over the world).

I'm looking forward to the day when a service like Flickr will allow sharing of home movie clips (and not have to bother with DVDs) - I guess bandwidth and DRM permitting this could happen in the next 5 years.

- Rich

Posted by Rich Sharples on September 23, 2005 at 01:38 AM PDT #

Yes, I agree. I've heard of some video-sharing services but none seemed to be of the same scale of Flickr.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on September 23, 2005 at 10:31 AM PDT #

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