Sunday, May 21, 2017

iMovie Sucks

I'm in a rant mood today.

Some of that is germane to Maker Faire, some of that is me struggling with a several pieces of software that seemed designed primarily by marketing.

Here's a nice example; there were dozens of the usual PLA printers at Maker Faire advertising as a big selling point that you could print from your phone. Well whoop-de-doo. I design on my laptop, edit and slice on my laptop, catalog and share and store on my laptop, and have printed from my laptop. What would be the advantage of having to send it to my phone? So I could save myself reaching thirty inches to the printer which needs me to hand-tend it anyhow?

And don't sell me the the cloud-based, phone-centric, all-sharing paradigm. I'm not printing the work that someone else did. I'm designing tough, precision CAD stuff that needs a full desktop to play with. You think I want to do this:

on a phone?

Rant continues below the fold.

IOT is a wonderful idea but everyone is skipping over the as yet unsolved problem of actually putting all that potential interactivity in form where it is functionally useful. A lot of this stuff, I see not the advantage of having the data at your fingertips, but the amount of time it is going to take to enter all that data in the first place.

The Google, Outlook, and Apple infrastructures are getting better at synching, but there is still a real lack of automation in it. Not helped one bit by the increasing advertising content (so even when your calendar or phone list syncs fine, you still have to wade through a bunch of ads to get to it) or the ever-changing tech (so as soon as you have the thing working right, the entire cloud service you are using migrates or simply collapses -- sometimes selling off your data as they go).

Apple, in particular, gives and takes with the same hand. I am still surprised by some of the connectivity of the various aps. But at the same time, I am aware of things being left out and increasingly wary of the way it can and may already be placing me in an echo chamber.

Even something as simple as a targeted ad does this; an ad for something as similar as possible to what I am known to have bought is an ad that is not for something unlike what I have previously bought -- possibly something I didn't even know existed and would very much like to have.

So I'm looking for an alternative to iMovie (and looking in vain for help in how to turn off the "helpful" stuff iMovie insists on doing) and what everyone is leading with is how easy it is to drag-and-drop. Like that's the major time saver in constructing a complex video.

Not to mention the usual come-on with graphics software; ten thousand different filters! Lots of cool transitions! Oh, but our editor sucks rocks and you can't change the default duration of anything.

If you haven't had the delights of iMovie, it "carefully" adjusts the length of clips towards some unclear end. It may have some idea in its head about how long the whole movie needs to be. So no matter how carefully you try to hit your edit points -- I'm cutting to pre-existing music and I need to hit those beats -- it will shift everything around.

It doesn't even tell you what it is going to do, or what it just did. Type in a new value for a transition. It enters, the window closes. Now look at the actual transition. The time is totally different. Same for the timing of stills. So if you are cutting a Ken Burns of old photographs to a recorded narration, SOL on getting the timing right.

And as typical in such things, all the help pages and man pages and forum posts and attempts at answers assume you haven't figured out the basics yet. They simply re-iterate how to type a number in a box (wow...that's l33t haxors skills to do that!) and tiredly explain that the clip needs to be long enough to include the overlapping portion.

One fricken post out of a hundred will note that the application is basically broke. And offer a few potentially useful work-arounds. One person out of a hundred apparently has avoided Dunning-Kruger and realizes that the problem might just be more complicated than their understanding of it.

Yeah, this is a thing too. You keep running into people who don't understand the technology well enough to understand the question you are asking. Rather than adjust their perception of their own level of understanding (realizing your question opens up levels of detail they had not realized were there), they re-factor the question, translating it into terms that fall within their own limited knowledge.

Even if that requires "translating" your question into something so moronic a moment's reflection would reveal to them you could not possibly be asking that. Seriously. I've asked what the pressure is on the air lines serving a shop and where the regulator is, and the person (who doesn't know said pressure even needs to be regulated) proceeds to explain at length how none of the tools need wires or electricity because they are -- actually powered by air (wow! Amazing concept I was totally unfamiliar with!)

How can you jump from a sentence containing the key nouns "pressure" and "regulator" and extract from that the idea that you need to give remedial instruction on how electricity works? Why is the default mode of so many people that they know the subject and everyone else knows less? Is there no capability of self-examination? No ability to take in new data and say, "That is a very good question and I realize I need to take steps to learn the answer myself?"

Something akin to this may be why every forum organized around a particular software package has "that guy" on it. Actually, several. Usually the forum regulars, and that really shouldn't be a surprised as one is unlikely to support and/or found a forum unless one is biased in favor of such thing to begin with.

Anyhow, any forum for any software you go to, any criticism, even an implied criticism (such as "can automatic re-sizing be turned off?") brings out one of those guys to rudely tell you that you obviously haven't read the manual, the software is doing what it is supposed to, and if you had any understanding at all you would realize that what it does is the pinnacle of all things and one should be basking in the splendor of its perfection.

Any help you get on any of the big graphics forums, in other words, happens in the few short hours before the first forum regulars arrive.

And, no. Software is never broke. Many software companies no longer have a contact system, leaving it up to users to make an ad-hoc, user-financed help system and forum of their own. And, yes, the vast majority of user problems are probably user errors and/or something that reading the manual will fix. But this cuts out any ability of, well, anyone to functionally engage with actual bugs. The user is essentially left on their own to determine that it isn't their fault, is indeed a bug, and to find a work-around.

The few software packages that even pretend to bug hunt keep logs in which the majority of bugs are simply left unsolved, and in any case no patch will even come; if there is a fix, it will be in the next paid version. Assuming there is are a couple minutes of programmer time left after they've added the latest flash, bling, and buzz words marketing thought might sell them more copies.

Shareware and, above all, open source is about the only place where this doesn't hold. Where bugs are respected and attacked promptly, and where forums can actually help. Yet another reason to avoid commercial software. Even if it is given away with the operating system -- like iMovie.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, reading this has been a relief...
    Recently I wanted to make a small clip but felt lazy to turn on my work laptop (it has the proper editing software Premiere, After Effects, etc) and decided to use an "always-on" iMac on the living room.
    Launched iMovie and jesus christ, a day later I'm still angry at the experience... In my defence I did give it a fair try, I spent about 2hrs doing something that could have been done in 10mins on any of the others. And it's mostly because the thing would be so stubborn and inexact trying to snap and move things around. Sliders are horrible to handle, trimming points same, importing/deleting is not clear, even playback, preview, etc gives nightmares. Sometimes just hovering will make things play. Custom resolution? Forget about it, it was hidden somewhere.
    Why did it I give it a try? because I actually had a good experience on the iMovie iOS on the phone cutting, trimming and making some default transitions... nothing serious, very simple and straight forward. This time I needed just a bit more, needed some custom control, match two audio tracks to several video layers... IT.WAS.HELL.
    I have been to a dark place and manage to come back... never again.
    Moral of the story is old: "The lazy works twice as hard"