The Future of Technology (as seen by Tom Selleck and AT&T in 1993)

Imagine sending a fax from the beach via a computer, or using a payphone to say goodnight to your child… from another timezone.

Tom Selleck provides the voice for this 1993 AT&T "we will" prediction campaign. It's as close to accuracy as a Michael Crichton novel, even if AT&T didn't pull anything off... besides dropped iPhone calls.

It was all part of AT&T’s WE WILL campaign, and remarkably accurate in its general predictions. But unfortunately we’re not sure the telecommunications company pulled any of these off. Hey- at least they were thinking.

Hey AT&T. Where's my Rosie Jetson?

Time To Kill AVCHD (and Tanbee Converter)

Prescript added post hoc: Thanks to Jeff and Jimmer (see comments) for useful tips on solving the AVCHD problems, including this Panasonic white paper. I found this Panasonic white paper about AVCHD and iMovie too.

Sony and Panasonic invented a video format called “AVCHD” and I would like now to proclaim it dead. I remember years ago hearing about great new cameras that were “functionally¬†obsolescent” for Mac users. The way they stored video footage required a whole separate conversion process (pre-editing) that was painful.

Last night I recorded an evening “Christmas carol flash mob” using 5 different cameras to compare how they’d handle low light. The winner was my Panasonic Lumix, a neat little camera and video camera combo which happens to use AVCHD. Sadly, I’ve spent 5 hours and $40 of software trying to get the footage into a usable format, and to no avail. In an act of desperation I purchased the Tanbee AVCHD Video Converter. I should have known better since I couldn’t find a single review or rating for it.

Tanbee, like AVCHD (for a Mac user anyway) can best be described as “ass.” The trial provided an obnoxious watermark, the $40 version one crashed, and after waiting 3.5 hours for a file to convert… all I got was audio and slow motion footage that didn’t match. I can only imagine that Tanbee has put its technical resources not in product development but SEO strategy (to ensure no ratings were available on the first few pages of Google).

Tanbee Software: Another Wasted $40
  • The software was impossibly slow.
  • The trial version produced a watermark in the center of the frame.
  • The converted footage had slow-motion video with normal audio (not matching)
  • It crashed several times. I had to re-register it each time.
  • Even the interface is stupid. It says press the + key to start, but not the big + key in the center. The little one on the left.

Sadly, the industry continues using AVCHD, which I can only assume is bearable for PC users. See a recent Kodak review that the AVCHD software may cause “editing and playing headaches.” I’d say that was being kind.

Again- I’m imagining there are Vegas, Pinnacle and other PC users who are happy with AVCHD, but I’d love to know if an Apple/Mac user has found a way to make this format even remotely functional. Failing that, watch my “boogerofnalts” eBay account for the listing of a perfectly working Panasonic DMC-ZS3.

Converting PC Videos to Mac

Visual HubMy favorite new software for converting avi and mov files to Quicktime or Mp4s for iMovie is called Visual Hub.

I have paid to download countless Quicktime pro and WMV converters, and most of them frustrate me endlessly. Visual Hub is easy (drag and drop) and hasn’t failed me yet. It also has a free trial without annoying watermarks or frequency limitations (although it does limit duration to under 2 minutes).

Most importantly, when it’s done its work, it boasts a lovely “ding” that sounds like a toaster. I sometimes salivate when I hear that ding.

Importing PC .mov Video Files Into Mac iMovie (without audio and video missing)

It’s the age old problem. You import an MPEG, Quicktime (.mov) or AVI into iMovie, and get a video with no audio. Or the dreaded white screen with working audio. That, of course, plunges you into countless hours of Google searches, flings you into the black hole of forum & help sites, and ultimately convinces you to buy several $20 downloads that don’t work. Then you finally figure it out, but the next time you forget what you did.

Today, after spending $100 on Flip4Mac’s WMV and upgrading to Quicktime Pro, I found the solution in free software from Squared 5. It’s called the MPEG Streamclip. It also allows you to rip videos from YouTube and other video sites (see picture), and save them in a variety of ways.

When I do collaboration videos, I’m often sending large files (using free Pando software or YouSendIt), and the video files usually work fine.

streamclip to convert video files between mac and PCBut sometimes video files present problems because they are muxed (the audio and video are mixed). The odd part is that the clips sometimes play fine on Quicktime but won’t import into iMovie. That’s because iMovie doesn’t support muxed files. So you need to demux the puppies.

First, download and launch MPEG Streamclip, and then open your problem video file. Next, select “File>Demux>Demux to M2V and AIFF.” This may give you a strange video file that still won’t open in Quicktime or iMovie. But at least you can import the audio portion, since AIFF exports separately, and imports as audio to iMovie without problems. To patch up this “Grant Giggles” video built from ancient .mov files, I had to import the videos as Quicktime .mov files, then import the audio separately as AIFFs (which I created in Streamclip). I next locked the audio and video using Apple-L (a nice trick Charles Trippy taught me).

This may not solve all problems because the file extensions “.mov and .mpeg” can be deceiving. There are lots of different CODECs (ways to code them), and some versions are Mac friendly and others aren’t.

Still, Streamclip is free (thanks, guys) and has a lot of different import and export/convert options that I would have thought would come with Quicktime Professional or Flip4Mac’s WMV professional studio (and I have no idea what I just payed $100 for, since WMV can’t solve this, and I’m not quite sure what it does otherwise).

Here’s another site with a buttload of information about file conversions.

Got any better tips for solving PC/Mac or Mac/PC conversion problems? Please comment below!

Addition December 19: Thanks ChristopherMast for pointing out iSquint. If you’re on Mac and want an easy way to rip videos from the web, try Tasty Apps.¬† Marquis- this is for demuxing your own clips if they’re old (like these, which I captured via MPEG on my digital camera). Also- sometimes you lose a video and have to go rescue it from Revver or something. And finally, when I make videos and want to show a highlight of someone else (usually ask permission if I’m not sure they’ll say yes).