Ad Free, CyberLink, and Patreon

By Shamus Posted Friday May 30, 2014

Filed under: Notices 67 comments

The ads on the site are gone. They’re staying gone. I’m going to launch a Patreon campaign next week. (Probably Monday.) My hope is that the campaign will cover the loss of ad revenue. And if it doesn’t? Eh. I’ll figure something out. It actually feels great to not have to worry about the ads.

Remember when I made videos? It’s been a while. In the past I used Windows Movie Maker, but after I upgraded to Windows 7 I found that the bundled version of WMM had been neutered and was barely fit for making family photo slideshows. It didn’t seem worth my while to try to get the old version working, since it was a bit crap, crashed all the time, and didn’t support HD video. The open source alternatives weren’t all that great, and the commercial ones were too expensive for my tastes.

But!

I had a very generous donor right after I talked about my fight with Google, which I discussed on the most recent Diecast. I used that money to get myself some video editing software, so now I can make videos again. I’m not going to start turning out tons of video content or anything. I know my prose is the big draw around hereOr so says the people who prefer to read my prose. Hm.. But it’s nice to have the option available.

I just don’t “get” most video editing software. I suspect that a lot of them are based around the ideas and nomenclature of old-school cut & splice film editing. That’s nice for seasoned vets moving to the digital age, but for people like me who are new to everything it’s just inscrutable. One program felt a lot like the early Blender interface to me. Every clip had its own window, and you were sort of editing them all at once, and none of them was the “main” video you were working on. There were always lots of buttons, and I couldn’t intuit what any of them did. When I pressed them, very often nothing would happen. Did that do something I don’t understand, or did it actually do nothing?

For the record, I got CyberLink PowerDirector 12, which is just about the worst name for a software I’ve ever heard. It sounds like a couple of 90’s era C-list Image superheroes: “CyberLink and Power Director team up against the Terrifying Twelve!” This complete lack of self-awareness extends to the way they name product tiers. The lowest tier is “Deluxe”. Ha ha. Hey CyberLink PowerBomber: 1950 called. They want their marketing backHey Shamus, 1990 called. They want their “X called and want their Y back” joke back..

But I really dig it, cheesy name and all. I didn’t need to read a single document to get rolling. I was able to jump right in and figure it all out through guessing and experimentation. It uses the Windows Movie Maker timeline editing paradigm, except not stupid and broken and horrible.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony of dumping the ads and them announcing it by praising a commercial product. For the record: This is not an ad and I’m just praising the software because it made me happy. It could easily piss me off tomorrow and be the subject of a 2,000 word rant. You know how we do things around here.

Anyway. The site is now free of adsExcept the forums. I’ll fix those soon.. And I can make video content again. So that’s nice.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Or so says the people who prefer to read my prose. Hm.

[2] Hey Shamus, 1990 called. They want their “X called and want their Y back” joke back.

[3] Except the forums. I’ll fix those soon.



From The Archives:
 

67 thoughts on “Ad Free, CyberLink, and Patreon

  1. Ben Hilton says:

    Chris, Spoiler Warning and now Shamus. I don’t know, I just have this eerie feeling that once everyone gets a Patreon, the coin is going to drop and we’ll find out that due to fine print Patreon now owns everyone.

    Just a feeling.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah…
      On the up-side, terrestrial governments already own everyone, so they can fight Paetreon for control of the world. Not really a fair fight if you ask me.

  2. Zak McKracken says:

    Seriously, what’s the deal with open source video editing software? Even on Linux where you get dozens of programs, it remains a pain. Some can use this format, others can’t, some will just lose the sound or be unable to keep it in time with the video, others(many actually) crash as soon as you have more than 5 minutes of video … and those that don’t (Cinelerra and Blender) are just way too complicated if you just want to trim the ads out of something recorded from TV or put three clips together.
    I’vebeen jumping betwen about three to four different programs and none of them “just works”. I’m beginning to think there might be a patent on getting it right…

    1. The problem is that OSS usually has a terrible UI. Why? Because building a UI sucks. It’s a lot of boring (to most open source type programmers) thankless work. It’s not solving interesting problems, and it doesn’t make you feel smart. Especially if you want a UI that’s good for newbies (which usually means clean and intuitive). The UI you do get with open source projects is almost always the “Expert UI”, that works REALLY well if you are an expert and know all the shortcuts. If not.. eh. That’s why command line interfaces are so popular, all you need are the “shortcuts”.

      Problem is, video editing software is pretty much 90% UI.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        I use mostly Linux privately, and actually most of the software is pretty neat, and there must be quite a few UI nerds behind it. KDE pioneered (to me at least) some of the things that Windows 7 later got the credit for. (searchboxes in configuration menus? yeah, I had that for ages…).
        … Actually, let’s rephrase that: For pretty much any purpose I have some piece of OSS that does it with a GUI that meets my needs. Except video editing. There are even programs with an “easy” GUI, targeted at casual use, but those either crash frequently or don’t work with all the installed codecs (which work fine in other software), or aren’t able to keep the sound in sync…
        It’s not the user interface, is what I’m saying.

    2. Chris Robertson says:

      There may be hope on the horizon. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/421164014/openshot-video-editor-for-windows-mac-and-linux/

      The original release date is well passed, but Mr. Thomas is continuing to work on it (and recently released a progress update with a video of the interface in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23rAasV6YJM).

      1. DrMcCoy says:

        I kinda don’t like that there doesn’t seem to be a public repository. He’s not developing it in the open. There hasn’t even been a tarball of the new code yet.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        I did try openshot at some point (on Linux) — I don’t quite recall on which front it failed, but fail it did :(
        I think I might give it another try since it there was at least an update last September. … it’s a little weird, though, that it has a video of Blender’s user interface on the front page of openshot.org, and some of the example video isn’t even de-interlaced.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Blender includes a video editing suite… if you’re willing to jump off the deep end of sanity and reason.
      Once you’ve left the realm of thought, however, it works remarkably well!

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        My uses of Blender so far:

        * Automatically processing images for serious quantitive analysis (seems to be only packages except for ImageJ that can do division with HDR images — and ImageJ could only do greyscale)
        * editing one video that was recorded from DVB-T, because the software that came with the DVB card didn’t support any decent codecs. It got the video right but I couldn’t get the audio to sync.

        … after that I used Virtualdub and AVIDemux, that’s slightly unfriendly and can’t do more than cut and paste bits of video, and maybe change frame rates or resolutions. Not even transitions. Which is fine for some things but not really what I’d like to have. It’s still quicker than using Blender, where I have to re-learn the process every time.

        One of these days I’ll learn Blender proper… one of these days…

  3. Zak McKracken says:

    Re Patreon: I’ve been flirting with flattr lately, and actually like the way it works a little better (from the consumer perspective). How much pain would it be for you to put a Flattr button on the site?
    Cause that’d be something I could see myself using…
    Patreon? Hmmm… need to investigate more.

    1. ET says:

      OK< that's actually got a feature that I think Patreon needs: a budget each month. Although, I'd kind of prefer if both sites copied each others' payment style, so you can do both. :)

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        For me, Flattr’s advantage is that I can choose a sum that doesn’t hurt me and then distribute it to whatever I like, but without ever having to make transactions of super-small value. The thing is: If I’m transferring money in a foreign currency, there’s a minimum cost associated with that, so it’s not worth it unless I pay a “serious” sum.
        Case in point: Patreon campaigns I looked at so far have average contributions of 4 to 5 Dollars per contributor.
        With Flattr, that same sum can be distributed to lots of people, and it’s even depending on what I like most that month. It also reduces the threshold to give someone money.
        Oh, and Flattr also allows you to send fixed monthly amounts to specific sites if you want.

        The only disadvantage I’ve found so far: Flattr keeps 10%, Patreon only 5%. Will have to check what the currency conversion will add to that in each case…

  4. Tse says:

    Power Director is a really solid piece of software. It does things very fast and very easy.
    The CyberLink player, on the other hand, is completely useless and worse than most free players.

  5. Alan says:

    Grumbling about the interfaces of video editing software and comparing it to Blender is a bit ironic. I’ve been looking into video editing software myself, with a preference for Linux software, and Blender has been repeatedly recommended.

    I get why 3d modelling and rendering software added a full video editor to itself, but it still feels weird…

    1. Alex says:

      YOu need to edit video? Why not use this full featured 3d app? XD

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, it works. You’ve got to tackle Blender’s “Screw the rules I’m open source!” approach to UI, like everything else it does, but once you’re there, it works pretty well.

      What I find really strange is that Blender includes its own game engine.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        That user interface actually comes from the early dawn of 3D software when there were no universally recognized standards, less so for 3D software, and when Blender was not open source but an internal, proprietary tool for NeoGeo.

        http://www.blender.org/foundation/history/

        …if someone dislikes a proprietary piece of software, it’s just bad software. If OS software has a problem, it’s because it’s open source …

        … the fact is that Blender was never meant for casual users, and that is independent of it’s licencing terms.

        1. Asimech says:

          Thanks for the link. I’m sure I’ve heard before that Blender was created before the UI design got “standardised”, but I know I hadn’t heard that it was an internal tool at its inception.

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      I’m using Cinelerra if (and when) I have more needs than just trimming, cutting stuff out or rearranging clips.
      It’s made by this very weird guy:
      http://heroinewarrior.com/cinelerra.php

      Who doesn’t like community projects, so he just makes it and dumps it in the public domain.
      There’s also a cummunity version, made by people who take the original and try and shape it somewhat more like what “the community” likes, like being able to run on different setups :)
      http://cinelerra.org

      Very powerful but somewhat difficult to master as well. So if you already know Blender, I’d stick with that. If not and you have need for a very potent video editor, Cinelerra should fit the bill if you don’t mind learning something that’s completely different from Adobe Premiere.

  6. Dreadjaws says:

    “Hey Shamus, 1990 called. They want their ‘X called and want their Y back’ joke back.”

    Darn it. I always wanted to use that exactly-worded joke, and now I can’t without making it look like I’m stealing it from Shamus.

    Let this be a lesson to you all, kids: never let an opportunity pass up, no matter how silly it might seem.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m not surte I came up with it. As I was typing it, I had this nagging feeling it was familiar. Was it an XKCD? I googled, and the closest I could find was this:

      http://xkcd.com/875/

      Not the same joke, but maybe my memory is failing me. I dunno. But it’s possible this joke about how old that joke is, is itself old.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        See, and I was going to make a joke in the comments about how you didn’t warn them about Operation Greenhouse and the Cold War in reference to that comic, but then you lampshaded it.

      2. Toastgoblin says:

        I first saw it in this Penny Arcade strip if that helps?

  7. Galad says:

    Cool, so I’ll be able to support you now that paypal isn’t the only option :)

    I take it the picture on the right is ‘Cyberlink’ but what exactly is the picture on the left?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I reckon it’s Cyber on the left, and Link on the right.

      1. Eric says:

        I think the left is supposed to be Power Director, while Cyber Link is on the right (even though that looks more like Steam Link to my eyes).

        1. Canthros says:

          The big guy on the left is Cyber, a Marvel comics villain (per Google; I sure wouldn’t have known). On the right is (obviously) some sort of steampunk variation on Link, the eternal hero of Legend of Zelda fame.

          1. BeardedDork says:

            I knew him but was not proud of that fact. He was from the Rob Liefeld era at Marvel. He has adamantine skin, and a wet cardboard personality.

  8. Abnaxis says:

    Wow. Somehow, I completely missed that Blender post, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been following long enough to have seen it.

    Yeah, I knew it was going to be a bad rant, but it hit me just how bad it was going to go when you said ” You can try keyboard shortcuts, but I've learned to fear these.”

    I’m completely the opposite. Ive been forced to use so many programs that are HORRIBLY inefficient because they’re based on graphical interfaces, that I absolutely love Blender’s shortcut setup. Sooooo much faster, but I absolutely shudder to think what my experience would be if I came in expecting to never touch the keyboard. The interface was built around using both hands–keyboard and mouse–to model, and it’s horribly kludgy if you don’t do that.

    1. KremlinLaptop says:

      The problem I find with shortcut intensive programs is that the majority of them tend to be absolutely useless at informing the user that there’s a shortcut for this function. I almost feel like certain programs would benefit from a … tutorial? Just non-intrusive, “Hey did you know if you press CTRL+SHIFT+à˜ three times you can finish your project a month early, under budget, and shiny? For real!” things to inform the user.

      I mean hell even Windows is useless at informing the user about keyboard shortcuts to do things…

      1. Dev Null says:

        What they need is an animated character – perhaps some sort of anthropomorphic article of common office supplies – to pop up and make helpful suggestions. That’d be great.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’ve noticed you’re writing a joke.
          Would you like to learn more about:
          -puns?
          -sarcasm?
          -irony?
          -witty retorts?
          -how to register your product online?

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        While I totally agree that this used to be the case (I spent several days pouring through the shortcut menu looking for keyboard shortcuts to use), the latest versions of Blender (circa a couple years ago?) have the keyboard shortcuts in the tooltips and menus. It also has the “spacebar menu” (I don’t know what it’s actually called) that allows you to search for any function, and which also displays keyboard shortcuts.
        Also, you can finally assign them manually (while they used to be hard coded in).

      3. http://www.katsbits.com/files/blender/katsbits-blender-shortcut-chart.pdf bleh- hotlink blah, blah, blah, fine, here is the full link, the pdf is at th ebottom and very nicely put together though layout awkward: http://www.katsbits.com/tutorials/blender/useful-keyboard-shortcuts.php

        And if you need ALL The links: http://download.blender.org/documentation/BlenderHotkeyReference.pdf

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      I agree that Blender allows the experienced user to be very efficient but it’s really hard to learn, still…
      At my job, I’ve used programs with bad to horrible GUIs, ones that despised GUIs (and made you hand-edit text input files, with no error-checking), ones that require lengthy command lines …
      … the upshot for me is that I can learn pretty much any user interface if I have to, but that some make it easy and some don’t. I’m sure VI is a great tool but the frequency at which I have reason to use it is just enough to learn how to leave it again without accidentally changing the file and saving it again (double-escape, :q!). A small line at the bottom that tells the user what all those shortcuts do would have worked wonders, but that would cost the expert user an entire line of screen space, so no. That’s why I use nano if I ablsolutely need a command-line editor.

      You may have witnessed the Blender-Guru affair about the user interface, and while I deem half of his suggestions not useful, the user interface does make it very hard, and it could be much easier if it followed some conventions, without sacrificing any functionality, just rearranging some of it, adding more useful tooltips and maybe renaming a few things, carefully!

  9. HeroOfHyla says:

    I use Sony Vegas for my video editing. It gets the job done if I’m using it for my video camera (an old MiniDV thing which I’ve had since like 2006) or stuff I’ve recorded with MSI Afterburner. However, one time I was trying to import some video format (I don’t remember which one), and it wasn’t supported. A Google search on the issue found a forum post with someone justifying the lack of support by saying Vegas was for professionals and that it doesn’t support such low quality video formats. I think I wound up importing the video into Windows Movie Maker and exporting it as a .wmv that Vegas could read.

    I have to do that with my capture card’s output too. The AVIs that my capture card exports play fine in Windows Media Player, but they have no sound in VLC or on Youtube. They can’t be imported into Vegas. I have to import the file into Movie Maker, render it as a WMV, and import it into Vegas. And for the sound I have to play the video in Windows Media Player and record the audio separately with Audacity’s “stereo mix” capture (records the sound that’s being sent to the speakers) and then align that audio file with the video in Vegas and re-render it. I lose a lot of video quality.

    1. DrMcCoy says:

      Back in my Windows days, there was a program called VirtualDub that was quite useful in re-encoding / re-muxing videos. Is that still alive? Maybe that would be something you could use. I think it also did rudimentary cutting.

      1. HiEv says:

        VirtualDub (or “VDub” for short) is still out there, but it only supports AVI container formats, and there are a few codecs (mainly WMV) that it doesn’t like. VirtualDubMod is a somewhat improved version of VDub that added MKV support and a few other things so it’s less limited than VDub, but it’s still pretty limited. They’re both pretty out of date and long abandoned (last updated in 2006), but they work well enough for simple editing of some older video formats and are both free and open source.

        There’s also MKVToolNix (plus MKVExtractGUI-2), which is a handy set of free tools to create, alter, and examine MKV files and a few other video formats. I often use them when I need to demux or remux videos, since I sometimes have to downsample video to play it on my older dual-monitor computer which I have hooked up to my TV.

        Finally, if you’re looking for decent free video or audio conversion software, the programs from Pazera-Software that I’ve tried have worked well for me. (Ugh. It appears they have added some BS crapware to their installer since I was last there, so you have to uncheck and decline a bunch of stuff now. Use with caution, I guess.)

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        I’m using Avidemux and VirtualDub for purposes of cutting clips up and putting them together. It’s okay-ish if you don’t have too many cuts but of course it doesn’t do scene transitions or anything like that.
        If the software that came with my TV card (in 2005!) wasn’t limited to MPG2 input with SD content (and if I could find the CD…), I’d probably still use that.

    2. Eruanno says:

      Yeah, the more high-end NLE’s have a very… interesting idea of what file formats to support. Things like AVID and Final Cut are really happy to support obscure film formats from 10+ years ago but it’s literally impossible to get them to even look at an .mkv.

  10. Thearpox says:

    I was under the impression that the ads were enough only to buy you a cheeseburger. So was I wrong then?

    1. Shamus says:

      Several years ago I treated the ads like beer money: A nice bonus. Then two things happened:

      1) I stopped making $programmer money and started making $artists money.
      2) The ads gradually became more effective.

      I wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized that the ads were now a non-trivial portion of my income.

      Disclosure: We’re talking net $200-$300 monthly, depending on time of year.

      EDIT: More than a year ago. I think closer to two. Time is strange after 40.

      1. Thearpox says:

        Okay then. I was following your blog for several years now, and I must have missed the change.

        Thanks for clarifying.

      2. Humanoid says:

        Most people who currently donate manually via PayPal might switch over to Patreon though, so more realistically, the Patreon take would need to cover both the lost ad revenue plus the average monthly donations.

        Would it be crass to ask how much that goal would be?

        1. krellen says:

          It probably would, but it shouldn’t be. We as a culture need to stop pretending money doesn’t exist and actually talk about what we make, what we need to make, and what we spend. It helps others figure out whether they are being cheated or not, and overall encourages more transparency, equality, and fairness in society.

  11. Dev Null says:

    “The ads on the site are gone. They're staying gone.”

    I’m curious what motivated the change. Personally, I was always happy for some third party who I’d never heard of to pay you money because I’d visited, at no cost or impact to me. But then I guess I never really noticed the ads, so I was never real sure what they got out of the deal…

    1. Zukhramm says:

      It’s in the latest Diecast.

      Short story: Google refused to run ads as long as there was a post with the word “breast” on the site because they consider it inappropriate, while simultaneously themselves running ads mentioning the prospect of a “Roman orgy”.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        And in this way Shamus looses ad money, Google looses ad space on a site with thousands of views and conversely client money (no matter how little it was), Google’s clients loose exposure. I would even dare say that the readers loose, for me at least the ads were, with extremely rare exceptions, unobtrusive and inoffensive (if not necessarily informative) and we loose the ability to support Shamus in this manner.

        Hooray! Everyone looses! Corporate logic for the win!

        1. uberfail says:

          As I understand it he managed to get the ads back but later purposefully decided to ditch them.

      2. Mephane says:

        This is stupid beyond comprehension. The word “breast” in and of itself doesn’t even necessarily refer to a human body part, for example “chicken breast”. I thought only Apple were the ones run by a prude committee from a few centuries ago.

        :(

      3. Dev Null says:

        Aha; thanks for the update.

        I’m afraid I mostly get to read Shamus at work, which means I read they writey things but don’t watch many of the watchy things.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m fairly sure it has to do with this here Google Rant.
      Summary version: Google held advert money hostage until Shamus complied with arbitrary demands. This caused him to shake his fist, don a Guy Fawkes mask, etc… Oh, and take Google’s products off his site.

  12. Paul Spooner says:

    Glad to see the site advert-free. Really cleans up the layout, and I can understand the load off your mind. Looking forward to your embarrasingly humble Patreon campaign. Let me know if you need any CG special effects in your pitch video.

    1. krellen says:

      I would like to predict the script for Shamus’s pitch.

      “Hi. I’m Shamus Young. I do a blog thing. It’s kind of neat.

      Recently, I removed the ads from my site because Google is butts. Now I have this Patreon where you can support my blog where I write about stuff. Or not. Your choice. It’s no big deal either way.

      So, yeah. Patreon. It’s a thing. Thank you for your time.”

      Need a script-writer, Shamus? ;)

      1. KMJX says:

        I think this is all the script he needs.
        10/10 would buy (if I had the money)

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I dunno, I sense Mumbles’ influence in the “butts” part.

        1. krellen says:

          You say that like it’s a bad thing.

      3. Muspel says:

        The Patreon is actually already up, I think he’s just polishing it before he posts the link. (Which is why I will not post the link, either.)

  13. Shamus, you could do some sponsorship deal. This means yo would manually place branding for a company or product(s) on the site.
    Who knows, there may be folks among the regulars here interested in that or whom have contacts/work in a company interested in doing such.
    Working out a deal like that can more accurately target the proper demographic (you should have a pretty good idea of the crowd visiting your site by now).
    Any links on those sponsor/ads would have a id or hint so they know people came from here and can thus do some stats on that.

    I’m not saying a giant like AMD for example would be jumping at the chance, but there is nothing preventing a sponsor deal being made.
    I certainly would have no issue with a AMD logo/product or something being displayed in place of what wold be a google ad in the past.
    Patreon is itself a form of sponsorship too.

    1. Josh says:

      You know Shamus, I’ve got this show called Spoiler Warning that could benefit from some exclusive advertising on your site…

  14. Humanoid says:

    If you launched the Patreon today, you’d get a month’s worth of lucre tomorrow. Nudge nudge.

  15. KMJX says:

    The best part about this ad deal, is that I don’t even have to bother re-enabling Adblock for this site.
    <3

  16. Lisa says:

    Has Cyberlink PowerDirector improved in terms of output quality? I used it somewhere around 8 or 9 and while editing was a breeze, I found the output chunky, no matter what resolution or quality I asked it for.

    While the way it worked was horrible, I was at least able to get decent quality out of Windows Moviemaker.

  17. ccesarano says:

    Windows Movie Maker 6 is usually the version you want to hunt down, but I can also understand still wanting something better. I am right on board with you in that most video editing software feels unintuitive from a software design standpoint, and actively boggled my mind as I am not really familiar with traditional video editing, trimming, and splicing methods. So seeing how most video software worked, it left me scratching my head.

    That CyberLink software using a similar format sounds intriguing and I’d like to hear more about it. If you can find the time (HA!) I hope to see you write some blog entries about it.

  18. Rick says:

    Looks like Google finally listened, at least to part of what you were saying about their hypocrisy… Google bans porn in ads

  19. Zak McKracken says:

    Alright: One year later, and Openshot is still not available (except in the old Linux-only version 1.4 which never worked reliably). It’s still WIP, it’s still making progress but there’s still no date for a proper release.
    But then I just found and installed this:
    http://shotcut.org/bin/view/Shotcut

    It’s slightly less than slick but it seems to do the job: Video cutting, transitions, captions, simple compositing. Even LADSPA plugins and JACK compatibility for those who know what that’s good for.

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