Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gee, you really CAN find anything on the Internet

It takes a lot to impress me, but a few days ago, I was throughly impressed -- enough to take time to blog about it.

Red Dream Studios recently secured a video production project with SoftImage. We're very proud of this, as it places them as being one of the largest and most prestigious clients we've ever served. Our mandate is to produce an interactive training DVD based on video material that was previously captured -- a whole 45 hours worth!

Since the project is not going to end up on television, or being played on set-top players, we chose to author the navigtional interface in Adobe Flash. All video was converted into FLV files that were loaded by clicking on various menu options or chapter points.

So what had impressed me?

I was looking for a quick way to convert time into seconds. Specifically, the time had to be formatted as an expression of 00:00:00 (hours, minutes, seconds -- the time indicated to me on the original video clip timeline), and when input, I needed to have the result in seconds. This would allow me to seek to a specific point in the FLV file that would represent a chapter point. The seek function in Flash requires seconds as its parameter.

So for example, 0:03:08:39 would equal 11319 seconds.

I couldn't figure out immediately how to do this, and various searches for "time calculator", "time conversion", "minute to second conversion", left me with the wrong results. In the end, I searched for something explicit like, "format 00:00:00 in seconds", and I came across a post on a developper site for Microsoft Excel. And believe it or not, Excel has some great functions that allow me to do exactly what I was looking for.

Thus the power in the internet. You really can find the answers to imponderables. Now, if it could only tell me the meaning of life...

PS: The formula in Excel is: =RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-FIND(":",A1))*24*60*60. Put your time, expressed as 0:00:00:00 in cell A1, and there you go.