The title, the thumbnail, and the lag
“A Laggy Boat Ride” was a laggy mess. At least in its original form, anyway.
I’ll start with the title. It isn’t exactly a title that entices you to watch the episode. If anything, it deters you from watching it. It mentions the worst part of the entire video, and says nothing about the parts that are at least somewhat interesting. There isn’t even a pun in the title making fun of the lag, so it just ends up being a rather bland and generic title that tells you why you shouldn't watch the episode, but not why you should.
Then there’s the thumbnail. I forgot to mention that episode 4 was the first episode that I made a thumbnail for. That first thumbnail was pretty basic, lacking a screenshot from the actual episode, and having nothing but some images and text copy-pasted onto a white background.
I wanted to have a consistent style for the thumbnails, but I ended up changing the style for episode 5 because I realized that white backgrounds were kind of boring. The thumbnail for episode 5 was made using the same project file, and so the logo and cropped image of my player skin were in the exact same position, but the rest of the thumbnail was changed quite a bit.
But the inconsistency or relatively cheap look of the thumbnail doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that the thumbnail, like the episode title, also spotlights the lag in the episode. I thought that since the episode had so much lag in it, I might as well advertise it as a “feature” of the episode or something, but in hindsight that was a bad idea. Pointing out your flaws doesn’t fix them or make them less bad.
If I was smarter back then, I probably would have edited out the lag and used a title mentioning something about exploration, snow biomes, and/or the wolves. But for whatever reason, I didn’t edit the lag out. Perhaps it was because my current video editor at the time (VSDC Free Video Editor) crashed constantly, or because I was lazy, or because I was inexperienced, or perhaps all of the above.
As for what caused the lag in the first place, I think it was a combination of my hard drive being almost entirely full and my recording software (Fraps) being very resource-intensive. My hypothesis is that because my hard drive was so close to being full and fragmented, the free space was scattered in small pieces throughout the drive, and so recording a video meant the hard drive had to keep jumping from place to place to keep up. And it wasn’t just small video files… Fraps made large AVI files, and even though I turned down the quality settings when I recorded the episode, the files were still pretty big. At the same time, when I would load in some chunks of the world or generate new ones, that would require reading from another part of the hard drive, so Fraps and Minecraft were battling for both CPU and hard drive usage.
These days, I’ve cleaned out a lot of space on my hard drive by moving my videos onto external drives and cloud storage. I have also discovered that recording video onto an external hard drive seems to help by freeing up the internal drive to be used by the game. Additionally, when recording on Windows 10, I currently use the built-in Xbox Game DVR to record videos, which seems to be far less resource-heavy, in part due to the fact that it outputs compressed MP4 files whereas Fraps made near-lossless AVI files.
(As a side note, I really wouldn’t recommend using either Fraps or VSDC Free Video Editor if you want to make videos. OBS Studio is better for recording and is also libre and cross-platform. The Windows 10 Xbox Game DVR also works well as a simple solution. And as for editing, I would recommend Kdenlive. I don’t know if VSDC still crashes as much as it used to, but Kdenlive has more features and has the bonus of also being libre and cross-platform, unlike VSDC.)
The episode itself
So far, I’ve only talked about the lag and title and thumbnail that advertised it. But what about the rest of the episode? Is there some good content left if you take out all the lag?
Unfortunately, even without the lag, the episode is still pretty boring. The entire segment in the caves feels kind of pointless and takes up far too much time. Messing around outside with the endermen is kind of fun to watch, and getting my first ender pearl is kind of significant, but it's still a segment where not much happens. The boat ride really should have been sped-up or I should have at least been talking about something interesting during it.
The part of the episode where I find the snow biome is probably the most interesting part of the entire episode. It has me exploring a new area unlike anything seen before in the series, and I find my first sugar cane and my first wolves there. I even get the “Cow Tipper” achievement. Actually, that might have been my first cow, but I haven’t checked the previous episodes so I’m not sure.
Unfortunately, the best part of the episode is followed by the worst part: the boat ride back home that inspired the title. I really should have cut this part out. Since I already showed my trip to the snowy region, I didn’t have to show my trip back… especially after the footage turned out to be so frustrating and boring to watch. If I had just cut out this one segment or ended the episode while I was at the snowy region, then the episode would have a different title and would have finished on a high note.
Overall, episode 5 lacks in the area of interesting content, with most of the episode just being stuff that's already been done in a previous episode. I already did cave exploration in the previous episodes, and this episode spends a long time underground and hardly shows anything new. I already fought mobs in previous episodes, and this episode just shows me doing that again, but with endermen. When I finally do something new in the form of riding a boat and exploring, I don’t utilize the time spent in that activity as well as I could, and then I waste time with pointless footage of riding back home, only this time with high amounts of lag.
Ironically, there’s an apology for the audio quality in the episode at the end of the intro, and yet upon rewatch, I think the audio quality in this episode is completely fine… compared to the previous 4 episodes, anyway. If anything, there should have been an apology for the lag in this episode or an apology for the audio in episode 4, which had bird noises or something in the background.
As I expected, episode 5 unfortunately breaks the trend of increasing quality throughout the previous 4 episodes. Overall, I would rank it as the second worst episode, with only episode 1 being worse. Very little happens in the episode, and what does happen doesn't have much effect on the next episode. You could probably skip this episode and you would hardly miss anything.
But what about the re-edit? Was I able to salvage something decent out of this mess? Much to my surprise, yes! After cutting out all the lag and the majority of the cave segment, as well as speeding up the boat ride and making the usual polish cuts, I ended up with a fairly decent video that I’d say is pretty watchable. It’s not as good as the re-edits of episodes 3 and 4, but it’s a huge improvement over the original version of episode 5.
In total, I cut the episode down from a length of 27:16 to 12:36… that's a decrease of 14:40. The original version of episode 5 was already the shortest one I had made, and the re-edited version is similarly the shortest of the re-edits so far. Although not much happens in the episode, you only spend 12 minutes watching the re-edited version, so it doesn’t take up that much of your time and the lack of content is more forgivable.
I probably could have cut it down even further down to below 10 minutes, but I was a bit worried that if I kept cutting it down, there would hardly be enough left to call it an episode. Unfortunately there's not much interesting content in the episode, so I can't just cut out everything that isn't really exciting. If I did, then there probably wouldn't be anything left. So instead, I tried to just make the episode feel like it was continually moving forward and not dragging on with nothing happening. I think this has the effect of making everything feel a bit more interesting and fresh.
One thing I noticed while rewatching the episode and preparing for the re-edit was that, while in the caves, I mentioned the weird liquid physics in Minecraft and how it was unlikely that they would ever change due to the risk of breaking contraptions. Of course, if you’ve been keeping track of recent Minecraft news, you will have heard about how the developers had considered changing water mechanics in the upcoming Update Aquatic, but backed down due to not wanting to break existing builds and contraptions. I thought it was kind of funny how my statement from 2015 was unintentionally relevant to recent events, so I decided to keep that part of the caving segment and add a little joke about the cancelled change to water mechanics.
Another observation from re-editing this and other episodes: the Minecraft soundtrack sounds pretty cool sped-up, and speeding up footage sometimes makes it a whole lot funnier. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think crashing my boat into the ice on the edge of the snow biome is a lot funnier sped-up, and my silly little “Wheeeee!” while running on the ice sounds even sillier. And of course, it has the bonus of making the footage take up less time and making the episode shorter, so that's neat.
Overall, I’m definitely pleased with how the re-edit of episode 5 turned out. It’s still not that great, but it’s such an improvement over the original and I was expecting worse, so I’m happy.
The original version of “A Laggy Boat Ride” is pretty bad, but the re-edit turned out surprisingly well. I still wish it could be better, and the episode could probably be skipped, but I’m happy that I was able to improve it as much as I did in the re-edit.
Although episode 5 wasn’t that interesting and not much happens, the episode that comes immediately afterwards is the complete opposite… it’s VERY interesting and some really important and unusual stuff happens. I’m really looking forward to rewatching episode 6… and I think re-editing it will be quite fun as well.
But until then, this has been SuperGeniusZeb, and I thank you all for reading!