Okay, the task wasn’t supposed to take ‘five minutes’ it was suppose to take about an hour. We were running late, but still, we had time. I fired up the software to prepare the ‘cheap and cheerful’ DVD. I say ‘cheap and cheerful’ but of course this would be used at the ‘Premier’ showing of this programme, so I wanted the best quality that I could get.

The job began running at five o’clock in the afternoon and chugged merrily along for forty minutes reaching 89% when it crashed. The error message helpfully said the ‘bit rate was too high’.

Ah, okay, whatever that means. I deleted all the content, reset the parameters, lowering the bit rate, reloaded the content, recreated the menu and set it to work again.

All seemed to be working well, so we left for a meal thinking that the job would be finished on our return. We could then check it and make sure that all was well, that there were no errors or problems – a bit later than planned, but still within spec.

Back from the delightful meal to find the programme had failed again – with the same helpful error message.

Once again I deleted all the content, changed the parameters, I was sure that the lower number was supposed to be 4.6. This set, loaded the video again, set the menu and set the programme to work.

We passed 89% with no problem. Smiles all around.

Crashed at 93%.

Once more to the breech my friends. Deleted the material, set the parameters quite a bit lower, both upper and lower values, changed the way it did the encoding and then loaded the video, recreated the menu and set it off again.

Why oh why do they allow you to set parameters that can not work ?

About an hour later, success ! Happy day !

Popped the disk out and went to test it on the DVD player and telly.

Sat down and to enjoy the programme, the fruit of not weeks or months, but years of labour. All flowed nicely along until the 25th minute (programme is 29 minutes long). There we had a graphic that has worked flawlessly during the previous twelve versions – but here on version 13 the first half worked as expected and then, in the second half, all the words piled over to the left hand side.

It’s not supposed to do that ! It has never done that before !

Well, it has now.

So back to the computer, fire up the editing software, find the 25th minute and sure enough it is not right.

How ? Why ?

Without a ‘how’ or a ‘why’ – how do you fix it ? Conundrum, but it has to be fixed.

Well, I poked and prodded and didn’t make any change but now it works ! Hm, welcome to my world. These things happen.

It seems that earlier in the day, making the last adjustments, we made a minor adjustment to one end of this segment. We moved a file, an invisible file that had no bearing on the graphic, three frames, uh, about 1/9 of a second (yes, second) and that minor, minuscule adjustment sent the compilation into a apoplexy.

But now it is fixed. So, make a new master .mov file, only six or seven minutes for that, then load that in the software to make the DVD and about an hour later it will be ready.

Old material deleted, new material loaded, the programme ran – no changes required to the encoding settings and sure enough, about an hour later the disk popped out.

Great. But, once again, must sit down and watch the whole programme to ensure that it all works – no undocumented surprises lurking in the shadows. This is, after all, the premier copy.

So half an hour later – job done.

But this one hour job has consumed seven hours, and, unfortunately we need three copies (just in case) plus a copy with time codes emblazoned on it to facilitate the Director to make the final adjustments before we call it complete.

And so, a grand total of eight hours later – it is now one in the morning and, finally I can say the task is done.

In my world there is no such thing as a ‘five minute job’.

Welcome to my world….

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