Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Convert VHS to DVD to MP3

"It took me 3 hours to convert this video to the proper format."

I understood the frustration. Even with fairly sophisticated tools, it can be pain to convert files from one kind to another. Currently, my project is to convert a VHS to MP3. The video is old and unnecessary. My mom thinks the content is great, but would rather read it. So... how do we go about transferring a VHS to text? Here's what I've finally come up with:

Step 1: We have a VHS player that automatically copies to DVD. Cake.

I dropped my DVD into my computer and tried to rip the audio straight out. No can do. The video files are a jumbled mess of multiple files that do not play sequentially. In fact, I was unable to find the start point anywhere.

Messy DVD Files

Step 2: Open DVD in DVDShrink and "Backup!" the "Main Movie Title" from the DVD.

This makes the once four separate VTS files into one.

Step 3: Fire up VLC and "Convert/Save" to an .mp3 file.

Step 4: (optional) Open the .mp3 in Audacity for further cleanup/editing and export.

I believe the plan is to play the audio to a dictation program which will-theoretically--convert it to text. Here's hoping!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


We Don't Like Surprises

Yes, I've been watching a teen vampire show. It's surprisingly clever, and it's giving me blog fodder. So, I'll stick with it for now.

There's a tussle between two boys--who have been at each other's throats for many episodes now--but after getting punched one asks the other, "Why are you like this?"

"I don't know," the other replies, as he stumbles into a new camera angle that looks like this:

See the Moon There?

Earlier in this episode we learned that these two characters like sketching fantasy characters and monsters. So we, as an audience--even if you're still not sure what the moon has to do with vampires--are prepped for the "big reveal" later in the series. Granted, I don't know for sure yet, but it's coming...

Speaking of: I was horribly disappointed by this moment in Game of Thrones:

The Twist Out of Nowhere

I realize that moment is in the book. I get that it came out of nowhere in the book. I hear that people threw their copies of the book against the wall when they read this. I hear something similar happened when people saw this moment on screen.


I don't think it's for the same reason that the author and the producers think. It's not because it's earth shattering or genre-bending or so intense. People are angry because this event comes completely out of the blue.

What does this mean?

We don't like surprises. Not at all. We like twists--we love twists--but only when we see them coming. Don't spell it out, but let us know that something--something crazy--is headed our way. Then when the impossible happens, like, say, a main character suddenly gets axed, we'll jump up and down, scream, cry, hug our friends, rant and rave about the moment... but we'll have had fun. As it was with the moment above, I wandered upstairs and said to my wife, "Umm... I think that just happened. I guess I'll find out if it really did next episode."

It was such a surprise that it felt like a dream sequence, not a major plot point.

Give your audience a chance to come along in the journey. Don't tell them stand in the middle of the road and then hit them with a tank. That's not any fun.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Faking Scars vs Fake Scars

I've mentioned making fake blood for videos before. But this week, while watching a teen vampire television show, I noticed a shot where the fake wound looked, well, fake.

Fake Scar

Part of the problem was that this character's bite was all of an hour old--in the show--and already it looked like the wound was scarring, something I wouldn't expect for more than week.

Lesson 1: Make sure your makeup fits the scene. You may be great at using latex to make scars... but that's not very important if you need an open wound instead.

Related to this: liquid latex is awesome, but once it sets, the stuff is going to bend and stretch like flesh, not a puncture. If you need holes, you need a different kind of makeup... or glue (which is more like the latex, but... oh well).

Lesson 2: I'm all for using low-tech and inexpensive tools, but use the right stuff if you need a specific look.

Have you done any makeup projects recently? How'd they turn out?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor