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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ArcSoft MediaImpression for Kodak is not for YouTube

Sometime back during a sale of some sort, I bought a Kodak Zi8 video camera, and as you might know now, I sometimes make videos to put on YouTube. Like most hardware designed for easy use by people like me with little or no skill beyond pressing one button or another in a somewhat less than random order, this little camera is intuitive and easy to use.

Such hardware often comes with it's own software, and the Zi8 is no exception. ArcSoft MediaImpression. It loads on your computer when you first plug in the camera through the USB port. What's hidden from most users is that the file formats are proprietary, or at least odd, and not accessible to most other forms of software. This is not an issue for most of us because the built-in software is quite sufficient. I'm not likely to make any kind of video presentation beyond my usual stitching of several short clips into a single short movie.

And then it all breaks.

ArcSoft updated the software about a month ago. Last Monday, I made a few clips of the excessively loud cicadas at Jordan Lake, which I stitched together per my usual. The upload to YouTube happened. The YouTube convert failed. Twice.

As you surely expect, the built-in helps offered no help. Do you ever wonder why bit patterns are wasted there? I have not been helped by built-in help in a decade or more. So I type my question into the Google search bar. Oh yes, there's a discussion board at Kodak. With a little more searching, I discover an extensive thread regarding my YouTube failure. It's a known problem with no anticipated fix. Lovely.

The blame is assigned directly on YouTube. YouTube changed the way it handles videos. The blame is assigned. Well, that certainly solves my problems. The blame is assigned. Yep, I'm good now. It's YouTube's fault.

Never mind that Kodak outsourced its software development to a third party, and likely the third party with the lowest bid. Never mind that proprietary formats are involved. Never mind that any update has to be coordinated through layers of corporate profit margins. Never mind that the people who pay for all this now have something that is quite useless outside the limited capability of the home computer running the proprietary software. Never mind that the world is denied my scintillating of howling cicadas out of focus in close-ups.

The problem has been known for over a month now with no fix in sight. To announce a fix would be to also announce a problem, and we just don't admit much to problems anymore, not in public forums anyway.

So what's the real fix? I could put the camera aside and wait. How I would know the problem is resolved is a question we might never answer. I suppose I'd make a video and see if it worked on YouTube. Or I check the discussion board every month or so. I'll need to recharge the battery every few weeks while I wait.

More likely, I'll replace the device with something else, though I'm not all that excited about spending the additional money. Of course, if I don't, the world will be denied those scintillating videos of howling cicadas. If I do go down this road, rest assured that the file formats will be compatible with other software, whatever that might be.

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