Fern has deserted us for a couple of weeks, she is off to Sicily to see Beijing Opera and, like everyone else, to try to catch a glimpse of George Clooney. Good luck Fern! Bring back autographs!
I feel I have to compensate for Fern’s absence somewhat, but it’s going to be hard to write anything of substance without her help, gulp! But here goes a first try!
Today, I am posting the CCTV New Frontiers series of video documentaries on Kunqu Opera titled, “600 Years of Kunqu Opera”. The documentary consists of 10 roughly half hour segments. This very peaceful and nice production was originally made in Chinese, and later reformatted by CCTV in English, targeting western audiences. I found the videos very relaxing and informative. To untrained western eyes and ears, there is very little difference between Beijing Opera and Kunqu Opera, but in fact there is a great deal. Kunqu is slower, and feels dreamier. It feels more ancient.
Classic plays such as “The Peony Pavillion”, “The Palace of Eternal life” and the “Peach Blossom Fan” are explained and put into historical context. It’s a must-watch.
I should mention that I did have some technical problems along the way:
It is very hard to view these videos on the CCTV website from North America because of bandwidth issues.
Next, it is very difficult to download the videos to view them offline because the Firefox plugin Download Helper will only get the first five minutes or so of the 26 minute segments.
Next, Vidown works correctly to download the individual segments of video and assemble them only about half the time and when it does, it plays the first 26 minutes, then starts the program again. So the “successful” files end up 50% longer than they need to be.
I shortened those “too long” video segments on Ubuntu Linux using the command-line ffmeg utility, with a command like:
ffmpeg -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 0 -t 00:26:00 -i “Kungqu Opera Part 4.mp4″ Kunqu-04.mp4
This resulted in a segment of the correct length without any video or audio loss.
Four of the 10 segments arrived seriously scrambled by Vidown when assembled, so I downloaded those a second time. Same result, scrambled and corrupt.
I tried to assemble the individual segments myself with a command like:
cat Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_1.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_2.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_3.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_4.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_5.mp4 Kungqu\ Opera\ Part\ 3_6.mp4 > NEW.MP4
Did not work!
Also tried MP4Box to assemble, no go!
So these 4 segments are each in 6 smaller video files as originally downloaded by Vidown. At least this way the documentary is complete and watchable from beginning to end.
The files are all .mp4 and can be watched using VLC.
Click here to download a single zip file containing all the videos
(size of zip file: 831 MB)