Saturday, 4 November 2006

Windows...After all these years

...not quite an old friend

Having abandoned windows years ago for Linux, then FreeBSD, and latterly a combination of Linux/FreeBSD and Mac OS X...I've found peace in Windows XP. Putting together work flows for dome content will push any hardware software combination to the max. I got tired of having to learn, or trying to find 3 ways (Mac/PC/Linux) of doing every task. From 3D modeling, to video editing and encoding at extreme resolutions to real-time 3D - much of what is contained on this site.

The hardest test seems to be getting full resolution fulldome video to playback from a single hard drive - full resolution here means anything from 1400x1050 or 2048x1536 right up to 4kx4k. Speaking to the guys from Elumenati at a recent conference in Portugal - they seemed to be getting amazing results from Windows Media 9. I'd been using Final Cut for editing, and was having trouble finding an appropriate deployment codec. Even resorting to Apple Intermediate Codec, to try and keep the quality. At this resolution
its tough getting good performance out of H.264. I have a loathing for Adobe Premiere, so didn't really want to start using XP as my main platform. Enter Sony Vegas. Although it looks like a toy, its actually a solid application - the bonus being that it does 5.1 audio too and its about a third of the price of Premiere. Encoding to WM9 does indeed produce amazing results. I've been following codec developments at Apple for nearly 5 years - I wonder now if behind all the rhetoric of standards compliance, is the
fact that they have to be - people have been burned by the Apple proprietary cul-de-sac before. Microsoft don't care - they'll throw money at codec development until it does what they want, and if that means it only works on Windows - so much the better. It's good to find a solution, and to start concentrating on content. I should have a bit more to write here now, rather than digging through the manual to 'mplayer' wondering how to crop video in YUV space...or whatever...

OpenSceneGraph works here too (of course) Panda3D only seems to work here, SEOS' software is Windows only, Uniview (SCISS) is Windows only. I'll miss the attention to HCI in the interface, and the general pleasant-ness of Mac OS X, but its the content that matters...Never thought I'd be saying that about Windows XP!

I still can't find a substitute for MOTU's Digital Performer - nothing I've ever seen or used touches that for music and 5.1 production, but I can live with that.