With video recording built into every smart phone this is not surprising. What may be surprising is the exponentially expanding volume and rate at which we are capturing content. Consider for a moment the fact that YouTube alone has more than one billion users who together create and upload more than 300 hours of new video to the site every minute. There will be more media posted to YouTube in the next half hour (9,000 hours of content) than there are hours of time in an entire year (8,765 hours of time). There is literally more content online at this moment than you could watch in a lifetime, even if you did nothing else until the day you took your last breath. This tidal wave of video-based content goes well beyond what we see reflected in the statistics at YouTube. There are 12 million Vine videos uploaded to Twitter every day and thousands more that are posted straight to Facebook, Vimeo and Instagram. There are even more videos that are recorded but not posted to social media outlets at all.
The lives of our children and grandchildren are now documented from the moment their mothers announce their pregnancies. It is feasible that a child could have his entire life recorded for posterity. This very quickly begins to sound like “The Truman Show”. We do not yet fully understand the impact this lifelong documentation might have on a person’s memory of events — whether it will enhance their ability to remember actual experiences or whether those esoteric memories will be clouded by the lone and limited perspective of the camera — but it will surely influence how people recall their experiences. When life moments become photo ops, are they still genuine life moments?
As a videographer, you are already aware of the potential there is for the shooter to be physically and experientially separated from an event by the viewfinder. When you are operating the camera, there is a risk that you might be so focused on getting the shot, that you do not appreciate the actual moment itself. In those instances, the camera that we use to preserve a memory may actually become a barrier to fully appreciating the fullness of the human experience, causing the us to become documentarians, not actual participants in the events of our lives.
When life moments become photo ops, are they still genuine life moments?
All of this media, particularly that shared online, has an effect on humanity. In terms of reach and connectivity, it serves to make our world smaller. People around the globe have shared the common experiences of Justin Bieber, sneezing pandas and a thousand variations of the Harlem Shake. As greater quantities of video are created, posted, experienced and shared a percentage of them will surely transcend culture and become part of a shared global consciousness in a way that was not possible in the not-so-distant past. In this economy, there is opportunity for people to find a new kind of fast fame based on their popularity with the public, instead of the opinions of a small group of powerful decision makers who control television, film and record companies. Some of this “fame” is welcomed and sought after, but others will find themselves famous for undesirable reasons. When every moment is captured, people are also exposed to risk. The camera does not distinguish between our mountaintop moments and our miserable mistakes. Video has the power to preserve, and subsequently expose, moments that people may regret, and lives can be ruined devastated as a result.
While quantities are on the increase, quality is arguably on the decline. “More” does not equal “better.” As a reader of Videomaker, you understand that there is an art to shooting and editing video to create media that is both aesthetically pleasing and logically coherent. Video producers have historically thought of a video as series of numerous shots assembled into a complete and edited program. In the new economy, any five-second clip is categorized as a “video” without regard as to whether or not it is produced.
There is no questioning the ubiquity of video. The reality of this trend raises a few interesting questions: What will ultimately happen to all of this content? Where will it reside? How much space will it occupy? How long will it last? The Cloud is most certainly being filled up with content. Perhaps one day a future civilization will look back on this archive and evaluate our culture us on the basis of our uploads. If that were to happen I can’t help but wonder what kind of story our clips would tell.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.