Friday, September 01, 2006

Video Cameras: The Revolution Will Be In High Definition

My last post was about new avenues to make it in the music business, so I feel compelled to add the revolution in cameras. The high definition models are out now and they will soon give ordinary citizens a chance at making movies that kick ass technically. I was on the cutting edge of the home recording breakthrough when I scraped together 10 grand back in the day and got a Teac Tascam 8 track, that weighs about as much as an aircraft carrier. You can now get a digital version with ridiculous numbers of tracks for less than 2 grand, and it weighs about as much as a typewriter - if that's not too dated a reference for you. Okay, Bill, throw some numbers around with video. First, my own experience and then I'll bring in the brother to dazzle you once and for all. I have a humble cable access show that I used to shoot on a SONY 250 worth maybe 5 to 7 grand. I bought a little digital camera for 800 that has better sound, and is more reliable, so I don't check out the old TV camera anymore. Now for my brother, the hot shot, world-class video guy who used to work for Reuters and toured the world shooting the news. You have probably seen his work. Anyway, he left his job in China after the handover of Hong Kong and retired. He sank 100 grand into a camera rig and digital edit suite. One tremendously cool result of that move is that when he does family videos like one about my parents, it looks like something on 60 Minutes only much, much more artistic. So when his kids have - let's say - an end of the season soccer banquet, they watch a recap of the season that looks like it was shot by Martin Scorcese. Okay, now comes the economics: You can get better equipment than he bought in 1998 - I'm talking about bad-ass high definition gear - for around a quarter of what he spent. Just get a MAC PRO computer for 10 grand, a HDV Sony camera for around $5,500 and around 4 grand worth of other gear, and you are equipped to make a world-class documentary. That also means the intermediate stuff - the newly obsolete, soon-to-be-discontinued stuff - will drop way down so some kid somewhere can afford it. Then instead of begging Hollywood to make a movie, you just head out and make a great product cheap. This could be a wonderful new age of expression. One thing Thomas Friedman said that made a lot of sense about what he'd recommend to young people for an education, is the ability to produce audio-visual material and present it on a number of different media platforms from the net to TV, etc...As far as cameras, modern society has completely kept its part of the bargain. Freedom is at hand and the future is wide open.


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