Making Video Gets Easier Every day

How Easy Can it Get?

Video recording arrived in the 1950s. Back in those days, video production was incredibly costly, time-consuming and difficult. By contrast, in this day and age, making video has become inexpensive, fast and much easier. Auto focus and image stabilization simplified shooting video, while computerized editing was perhaps the biggest single change that streamlined video editing.

Can video production get any easier? Some people imagine shooting can eventually become more automated. There are several headband and helmet cams that lead people to believe that they can shoot without a camcorder, either handheld or on a tripod. These head-mounted cameras have very small lenses. In order to shoot great video, you need a larger lens. Perhaps someone someday will develop a tiny lens that will make for an excellent-quality HD image.

When shooting video, we tend to use our hands and arms more precisely than our heads. It would be extremely difficult to execute a slow pan without a tripod, by using only a video camera on a headband. When we use our eyes and neck to follow the action of something like a basketball game, our brain accommodates for the darting and jumpy motions that our eyes see. If you were to record this with a headband video camera, it would be far inferior to the image from a camcorder on a tripod. As a POV shot to add to a traditionally-shot video piece, headband or helmet cam video can be useful. Twenty years ago, no one would have predicted something like image stabilization, so I suppose it is feasible that technology will overcome the disadvantages of a headband video camera.

On the video editing front, there are indeed some automatic editing software packages. Muvee popularized this solution, which seems to work best with simple music videos or slideshows. However, these videos do not necessarily have a storyline. When you need to tell a story, it is hard to imagine that a computer can contribute much to the storytelling and video editing process. There are often several audio tracks to consider, and it’s hard to conceive of a computer reading a producer’s mind to know where to lay B-roll over a talking-head shot.

The graphical user interface of video editing software packages is somewhat limiting. A few companies have made provisions for dual monitors, and this is very helpful. Video editing requires meticulous work, involving monitor, mouse and keyboard. Recently, Bill Gates announced that iPhone-like gestures are a part of the next version of Windows (7), and touch-screen is likely to be another appealing option of the new interfaces.

In the distant future, I can imagine editing video with a stack of small 6″x9″ monitors that we’ll use like sorting index cards on a tabletop. As technology marches on, perhaps toddlers might make decent-quality video someday.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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