The Process

So this page contains all the tedious detail about my capping and publishing process, mostly the internal process and selection.

First I watch the episode, taking note of what moments I like best. Then, if any commentaries are available, I watch again with commentary. Sure, that’s not technically necessary, but the first goal is to enjoy the episode completely. If a commentary is dull, I skip it.

Then I watch again with AnalogX Capture running. The capture format is bitmap (.bmp) for level of detail. Currently I’m using Windows Media Player for playback, which only lets me pause for a few seconds before popping up the navigation controls (using Ctrl-P only, not the mouse). Previously, my choice for playback was VLC Media Player, which allowed me to pause as long as I wanted without the navigation controls showing. However, any arrested motion showed up as a set of stripes rather than as a blur. I’m willing to accept a little blur sometimes, but not willing to accept stripes.

When I approach the moment I’d like to capture, I shift to slow motion to get as close to the optimum moment to pause briefly and cap. Sometimes I run through the same scene a few times and get lots of caps per second, so this can result in a pretty high yield. For really beautiful episodes, I may spend the entire viewing in slow motion.

During the capping process, I have to resist the urge to tell the story with the images. The temptation is strong, and I don’t know why. The questions to keep asking through the capping and subsequent culling process are, “How much do I love this image? Do I want to see it turn up randomly on my desktop? Will I want to see it randomly years from now? When I look at this, am I likely to think fondly, ‘Ah! I remember that!'” If not, let’s ditch it. Even so, I still wind up culling caps from year before last because I’m sick of them and they don’t seem relevant any longer. Several taken from Waters Of Mars fit the bill.

Caps I just can’t resist:

  • The TARDIS half-materialized anywhere.
  • The TARDIS parked anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. I passed up a shot of it set in an extremely dull antechamber in The Mysterious Planet.
  • Body parts, usually legs, sticking out from under or within the console or any other piece of the TARDIS.
  • Piloting of the TARDIS.
  • Establishing shots. You know, your basic scenery layouts.
  • Computer/television/cell phone/handheld screens.
  • Alien tech.
  • Vintage tech.
  • Industrial tech.
  • Long shots of solitary characters.
  • Deeply emotional faces.
  • Radically different perspectives. This can be strange camera angles or views through someone else’s eyeballs/eyestalk/lens facets/whatever.
  • Close-ups of inanimate objects that are probably not vital to the story. Think any of the food items in The Eleventh Hour.

The image has to strike one or both of two points of satisfaction:

  • Is it beautiful?
  • Does it stir a memory that gives me a feeling I want to feel? At first I typed “a pleasurable feeling” but some of my favorites are incredibly sad, so that’s not really accurate.

Most hit both points but in varying amounts. The establishing shots tend to be more about beauty, but the faces tend to be more about feelings. The caps also have to be unlike others I already have. This is becoming more relevant in the Trial Of A Time Lord arc: I can’t stop capping The Inquisitor. She’s gorgeous, but she does occur frequently. So she gets purged frequently.

the inquisitor

I convert and rename all in one go with IrfanView. Very sweet little piece of ware. Just before converting I create a new folder for the episode for IrfanView to dump the resultant images into. I get rather lovely .jpgs by watching the compression.

Then comes the culling. Because my process results in many near-identical images, I have to compare them and get rid of the ones I like least until there’s one winner per moment. Reminds me a lot of going to the optician and being asked which is better, lens 1 or lens 2. Except this doesn’t give me a headache. Factors include how much blur is going on, whether anyone has a less than flattering expression on, whether the shot has too much or too little light, that sort of thing. Aesthetic factors.

Sometimes there’s no clean image to cap in a given moment, so I have to accept some compromise if I’m to get any image at all. Usually, the compromise I choose is a bit of blur. The dancing sequence in Amy and Rory’s wedding is a good example of this. The Doctor “dances like a drunken giraffe” which is unbelievably charming, but there’s just no way to get it without blur, so the blur I accept.

I don’t compromise on facial expression, though. I felt compelled to pass up on several interesting moments of World War Three becasue I just couldn’t abide what Harriet Jones’ face was up to. She’s portrayed by a lovely actress (Penelope Wilton) but her expression is highly mobile; this makes her very, very good for video clips but not so good for action stills.

The culling process generally reduces some 500 images to maybe 50 to 100 or so.

I then sneakernet the new folders to other computers and upload to this site. I now use Wallpaper Slideshow to rotate my desktops, as it can handle folders.

That’s the whole capture process. Probably there’s a better way to do hand-captured screencaps but I haven’t devoted much time to experimentation and exploration. What I have now was simply the most expedient to discover and use quickly.

Then there’s this site. It’s WordPress on the front and Piwigo for the gallery. Love the former, not so hot on the latter – may replace it. I categorize folders by the listing given at Wikipedia’s List Of Doctor Who Serials, the only real difference being that I lump specials in at the end of whatever series they immediately follow.

Time that I get to cap and post is wildly inconsistent. I have a pretty busy life. So I sometimes take an entire weekend and post like a fiend. Posting all the entries the instant they are written makes the site less fun when it’s all feast or famine, so I use WordPress’ scheduled publish feature to create about a post per day into the future. I don’t consider it cheating to cap, cull, and upload an episode and not announce it posted until two weeks later. It’s just maximizing time and spreading out the fun. There are some times that I get breaking news that I post right away, particularly time sensitive stuff.

I never use apostrophes in folder names, tags, categories, etc. (for such eps as The Doctor’s Daughter, Let’s Kill Hitler) – I can’t always predict how the name of something is going to be stored in any given app, and while most apps can manage space characters these days, some still get totally bungled up by an apostrophe (or single quote, as they may see it) so it’s just safer. It’s not grammar ignorance on my part, I promise.

There you have it. Hope you enjoy.

2 thoughts on “The Process

Leave a Reply