Category Archives: Kazon Videos

Let’s have some fun

I’ll say it again: MUCHO thanks to mArniAc for bringing virtualdub to my attention.  It’s such a great tool, albeit limited in the formats it can save (right now: only AVI2).  Despite that limitation, I can still use it to produce an edited yet acceptable movie even if the output is too large and has to run through QuickTime or Movie Mangler Maker to produce a final version for upload.

Here’s the deal: I have several dozen videos that are in moderately poor condition.  There are several reasons for that.  The two major ones, though, are that (a) I had the camera on the wrong settings, and (b) I didn’t have enough light.  Sometimes both problems hit at once, yet it only takes one of them to ruin a good film.

I’ve complained before about how QuickTime has its limitations when it comes to editing, although let me sing its praises when compared to Movie Maker, which has extremely limited functionality.  Of course, Windows made that product for the masses, not for those who might be a bit more serious and a bit more technical.  Nevertheless, both tie my hands when it comes to editing videos.

Then in walks virtualdub.  What a great tool.  It’s not for the timid as it’s more like a *nix product than a windows product (that means it’s not push-button easy but instead requires some technical expertise).  And I love it.

Take this video for instance.  The original was extremely dark.  I have others that are even darker.  What worried me about them is that Apple and Microsoft both provide tools that use brute force when it comes to lightening a video.  QuickTime is a bit more versatile with some color filters that can also be applied, much unlike Movie Maker.  Yet both tools often spit out an almost unwatchable mess no matter how hard I tried to make it presentable.

With virtualdub, on the other hand, lightening a video is just the first step.  I can afterward apply additional filters to correct the colors and contrast and hues and a plethora of other variables that ultimately help make the resulting output at least more like reality and less like a kindergarten project.

Now keep in mind my skills with editing videos are even less impressive than my skills editing photographs.  That’s pretty bad.  I still find I can edit with virtualdub and create a viewable file without hating it altogether.

All of that said, this is a short video of Kazon playing in the kitchen.  Yes, it’s been lightened.  Yes, I tinkered with the contrast.  And yes, I also tinkered with the colors and hues and saturation.  After trying to edit it in both QuickTime and Movie Maker, and getting a final video that was practically indistinguishable from regurgitated sand, I was able to run it through virtualdub while tinkering with the settings until it finally came out with enough clarity and color and light to be worth posting.

So, since I can’t post photos at the moment, here’s a video instead.  I figure at least we can watch Kazon having fun.

Please love on me

Let me start by saying a hearty “Thank you!” to mArniAc.  After mentioning I had inadvertently recorded this video with the camera held sideways, and after venting my frustration at the lack of readily available tools that could rotate it without mangling it, I had not yet found the time to search for alternate solutions.  I already have Microsoft’s Movie Maker available but couldn’t use it because its rotate function doesn’t preserve the original aspect ratio, so the resulting output is a mashed video that looks like it’s spent way too much time under heavy weight.  Quicktime offers no rotate function.  So I was stuck until I could hunt down something else.

Then mArniAc came to the rescue.  She sent me an e-mail today with this link that included information on virtualdub, a GNU licensed video editing package.  I downloaded and installed it, and the next thing I knew the video had been rotated successfully without losing its original aspect ratio.  From there it was simple.  I added letterbox bars on the sides to return the video to its original 320×240 size (although the actual video content has been reduced to 160×240 so it fits within the standard resolutions), ran it through Movie Maker to compress the AVI stream (since Quicktime kept mangling it for some reason), uploaded it to YouTube, and finally embedded the player.

So again, thank you ever so much, mArniAc!  You saved me time and allowed me to show this cute little video of Kazon.  Sure, it won’t win an award and doesn’t show him reading Shakespeare or solving the meaning of the universe, but I thought it was worth sharing and you enabled that.  You go, girl!

Now on to the video…

As with all The Kids, Kazon and I have our little games, our personal interactions that no one else can share, and our innate understanding.  This brief film shows one such piece of our relationship.

When Kazon wants attention, he asks for it.  They all do, each in their own way, and each according to how I respond to them.  For Kazon, it’s a question in his voice and the need to reach out and touch me to get my attention.  What he says carries an undertone of purring that is quite evident.  If I don’t respond verbally, however, he gets needier and closer and needer and closer until he just can’t stand it anymore—at which point he gets as close as possible, gives me a kiss and head butt, and paws at me incessantly, talking the entire time.

That’s what you’ll see below.  All I kept doing was moving my head back and forth to let him know I was looking at him but not really listening (although I was).  At the end…  Well, at the end he takes matters into his own paws since I wasn’t giving him what he needed.

He’s at it again

Kazon sitting near the patio doors (162_6242)

You know how much Kazon likes to open doors—any door.  Cabinets aren’t a problem for him, an ability he’s taught to the rest of The Kids.  But more intriguing is that regular doors aren’t a problem for him either.  Remember the laundry room door he so expertly opened so he and his sister could go inside and play?

What makes this talent so fascinating is this: Kazon’s just not a smart guy.  He’s sort of a dumb jock.  There are times he doesn’t remember his own ass when he jumps on something, and that usually leaves him dangling precariously with his front end on the target and his back end swinging in the wind.

His lack of intellectual prowess makes his skills with doors all the more mesmerizing—and unusual.  Yet he is in every sense of the word an expert when it comes to opening them.

As I explained in the original post about this, “If there’s a doorknob, he understands what it’s for and will try to use it.  If there’s a handle, he’ll try to grab it and pull it down.  If it’s a cupboard door, he knows to use his front paws to pull it open far enough to get his head inside — followed by the rest of him.”  I have been repeatedly amazed by him in this matter.  I know he’s learned from watching people that doorknobs open doors and that handles pull down and open doors, and he’s put these observations to use in his own endeavors.

But he’s not always successful.  And that brings me to this video.

I was doing laundry one day and he had been in the laundry room with me, but I made him leave when I was ready to close the doors and go about my other chores.  What I didn’t realize was that he wasn’t done in there, at least not yet.

The moment I walked away, he proceeded to try his magic.  You’ll see him reach for the doorknobs, try to snag the tiny space between the doors, try to reach under them for leverage (which is how he normally opened those particular doors anyway), and basically search for an easy way in.  However, he wasn’t particularly serious about getting in there and gave it only half the effort he normally would.  Eventually—and let’s be honest: probably because he forgot what he was doing or why he wanted in—he decided it was too much work and gave up.

Watching a movie

Perusing my regular web haunts one day, I came across a cat video and decided to watch it.  It really was not all that exciting—just a cat receiving a treat and some conversation from his pet human.  But the first time the cat in the video meowed, Kazon rushed to the computer and began watching it with me.  And there he sat for the entire length of the movie.

Regrettably, I didn’t think about the camera until the movie was already half over, but still…  So I grabbed it, turned it on, and began taking my own video of Kazon watching a video… a cat video.  This is the result.

Watch him closely at the end when the video finishes.  You’ll see him lean in for a closer look, as though he’s misplaced something, or is trying to determine whether the cat’s coming back or not.

On gusts of fun

I love the way cats blow around like autumn leaves on gusts of fun.

— amba, Tiny Lighthouse

This is a video of Kazon doing just that: blowing around like an autumn leaf on gusts of fun.  He’s playing in the kitchen with a new toy, and he leaps and jumps and runs and… well, he does all that wonderful cat stuff that beguiles and captivates and enthralls and sings of innocent pleasure and carefree amusement.  I did have to lighten this a tad, which ultimately gnarled the WMV version, but it’s also the reason for the somewhat grainy appearance in the MOV as well.