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                   Thursday, May 8, 2008 - 4:51PM

May 8 lightning

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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With gas at $3.70/gallon, zero-mile expeditions are always nice. A few small storms were able to put some very limited instability to good use over Charleston this afternoon. Lightning was frequent, but not that impressive. I did manage to catch one strike from my living room window.

Click for 528p HD clip

I've been shooting the majority of my weather footage in 1080i high-def since October of 2005, but due to the enormous file sizes needed, I haven't been posting them online in HD format. However, I upgraded to Premiere CS3 last month, and in playing around with it I've found that its new HD Windows Media encoder is pretty efficient. The video above is downconverted from 1080i source to 720p WMV-HD, yielding a file less than 8 megs for a 17-second clip. That's not a bad file size for web purposes, and the quality is OK. The drawback is the 3.6mbps variable bitrate I'm using won't stream well if your internet connection's down speed is slower than that (so the file will need a longer buffer time). So from now on, I'll be posting future videos in 720p HD. Full 1080 files are still too big/processor intensive for most visitors' computers and monitors - but in the next year or so that will change as more people upgrade their systems.

I'll probably post a few clips from the past in this HD format in coming days.

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