Archive for December, 2012

Mac video

Friday, 28 December, 2012

So here’s my current summary of trying to find a video player for MacOS that will allow me to step frame-by-frame forwards and backwards:

  • VLC: Only steps forwards, not backwards. There is a Lua script which enables backward stepping, but after installing it, it doesn’t seem to do anything. I’m not sure if I’ve installed it correctly.
  • MPlayer MAC OSX: Only steps forwards, not backwards.
  • MPEG Streamclip: Apparently needs the Apple MPEG-2 Playback Component to be installed to get it to work. This is a $30 purchase from the Apple download store.
  • QuickTime: Step function both directions, but it is about 4 frames at once, not frame-by-frame.
  • Avidemux: Managed to get this working by following some online advice and deleting two of the library files in the install (since MacOS Mountain Lion apparently has those libraries already installed in the system). After some fiddling I finally figured out that on opening a video file it needed to write an index file, and for some reason I didn’t have permission to write into my video files directory. I gave myself write permission, and it loaded the file. But to display it at the right aspect ratio I actually have to set up a video filter and show the processed video. But once all that’s done, I can step frame-by-frame in both directions! Yay!

Mac enabled

Thursday, 27 December, 2012

I am up and running on my brand new iMac, after migrating from an old Windows XP machine. It’s taken a few days to get everything organised, files transferred, and various settings and things set up. I’ve transferred my Photoshop actions and styles, for example. iTunes took a bit of fiddling, but now seems to be okay. I’ve downloaded and installed a bunch of utilities like TextWrangler (a featureful text editor), FileZilla (FTP client), Inkscape (SVG editor), VLC (video player), and few other knick knacks.

I’ve now just set up a Time Capsule for backups and it’s making the first backup of the system and is working as my new WiFi router. Everything seems to be working nicely, without too much hassle.

The only thing I still need to confirm I can do with the new machine is make a new Darths & Droids strip from scratch. I used VirtualDubMod on Windows to play the ripped movie files, and it has single frame step forwards and backwards, which makes it easy to find the frames I want to screengrab for the comic panels. Unfortunately, VLC only does frame-by-frame stepping forwards, not backwards. (Google finds many people complaining about this fact and requesting step backwards as a feature, invariably followed by people saying the VLC developers refuse point-blank to implement it for some vague reasons.) I found someone recommending Avidemux as an alternative, which has frame-by-frame in both directions. So I installed that, but it crashes on starting.

Then I found someone had written a LUA script for VLC, which seems to do what I want from the comments. But I have no idea what a LUA script is or how to integrate it into VLC.

So I’m kind of stuck now. I really, really need a video player that will let me step frame-by-frame both forwards and backwards. Throwing this out there in case anyone has a solution.

EDIT: I found a guide to installing LUA scripts for VLC, and followed that. But it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t see an extra step back function anywhere.

Trevi Fountain at night

Friday, 21 December, 2012

A good night to be out

Aussie humour

Thursday, 6 December, 2012

This is why the Australian sense of humour beats anything the rest of the world can produce. This is our actual Prime Minister. Fair dinkum.

Recreating the past

Tuesday, 4 December, 2012

In 2001, my wife and I went on a trip to Italy. We visited many places and had a wonderful time. (You can read our travel diary if you wish.) We had such a great time, that we vowed to return to Italy one day. This year, we did. We revisited Rome and Venice, and then continued our trip into France (our first time there).

On that first trip, I took photos using a 35mm film camera. I’ve since scanned the photos to convert them to digital format. A couple of those old photos in particular I really like: a photo of my wife standing in front of the Pantheon in Rome, and another I took in Venice of us sitting together on the bank of the Grand Canal, setting my camera on a tripod and using the timer release to get myself in the photo. That latter photo was taken on black and white film – I took a few rolls of black and white film, as well as colour, on that trip.

Now, as it turned out, we were in Rome on exactly the same day in 2012 as we were when I took that photo of the Pantheon in 2001. So I decided to see if I could recreate it, with my wife in the same position. I had the previous trip’s photos on my iPad, so I had a reference and set up the scene as closely as I could manage – not incredibly close, as it turned out, but good enough. Here are the two photos: the original shot from 2001, and then the shot from exactly 11 years later.


Pantheon, 11 years exactly

And, for good measure, it happened to be (completely unplanned) that we also ended up in Venice exactly 11 years to the day after that original black and white photo. This time, instead of recreating it with a tripod and timer, I asked an American couple standing near us to take the photo for us. I showed them the original on my iPad, and explained that it was taken exactly 11 years ago on the exact same spot, and if they could please take a photo as close as possible to the same framing. While we sat there with our backs to this couple of strangers, they had our iPad and camera. They spent several minutes lining things up before taking the photo. For some reason, I neglected to ask them to take several shots, in case some didn’t turn out – they ended up taking exactly one shot.

Here they are: the original shot from 2001, and then the shot from exactly 11 years later.


Further contemplation

I’ll probably never know who that couple were. But thank you.

South America Diary: Day 19

Saturday, 1 December, 2012


Santiago Subway
We’re resting again after spending the morning out in the suburb of Los Dominicos, checking out the artisan community and market there. We rose late and showered before breakfast at the hotel buffet, then left to catch a metro train from Santa Luciá station, right in front of the hotel, to Los Dominicos at the eastern end of the line, some 13 stops away. The tickets cost 560 pesos each, just over one Australia dollar. The trains run frequently and quickly, and the one we caught was standing room only. It terminated two stops before Los Dominicos, and everyone got off, but another train appeared a minute later to take us the rest of the way.


Los Dominicos Artisan ComunityThe station exited on to the edge of a large grassy park with trees in autumn foliage colouring it shades of green and yellow. To the east lay the Dominican monastery after which the area was presumably named – a Spanish colonial edifice with two symmetrical square bell towers, topped by small domes. We walked towards it and next to it found the artisan community market that the lady at our hotel reception told us about yesterday. This was an enclosed area containing hacienda-style buildings of adobe with tile rooves, divided into about 150 small workshops and shops, plus a couple of small cafes. There were leatherworkers, woodworkers, copper and silversmiths, sculptors, painters in both oils and watercolours, weavers, knitters, basketworkers, glassblowers, jewellers, and lapidarists, potters and more.