Viewfinder: Home Video

The sales staff worries intently about how our advertisers perceive us. Are our readers too professional or too amateur? You see, they can’t sell ads for professional products to readers who make amateur video. Nor can they sell ads for hobbyist products to readers who make pro video. Our editorial staff toils over the same issue: should we lean more pro or more hobbyist? Over time (after writing many product reviews and editing articles about making video), some of our editorial staff become jaded and begin to nudge us towards being too professional.

Here’s an embarrassing secret about the pros: they too (like hobbyists) make home videos. The audio is imperfect, because microphones are rarely used, and the lighting has much to be desired, but when we create home movies, we kind of expect this. A lot of us think that reality TV has influenced the way home video is made. When shooting video of your friends and family, you are looking to capture them in real life. When people see a mic and video lights, their tendency to “act naturally” seems to disappear. Both hobbyists and the pros tend to capture more sincere moments of life when the subjects are not intimidated with excessive video gear. Many people are nervous just looking into a tiny camcorder.
Shooting good home video, like any documentary, requires lots of shooting in an effort to capture some golden moments. The shooting ratio is very high, and this helps to get people used to the camcorder. There’s always lots of shooting at major events like birthdays, vacations and weddings, but parties are becoming popular events for shooting video too. I recommend that you take the camcorder out during uneventful days and interview your siblings, parents, relatives or friends.

I wrote another article about compiling many years worth of home videos (and pictures) into Biography Videos: New Application for Home Video. This is a serious editing project that can require more expertise. There is a big future in this category which got its start with funeral memorial videos.

Back when home movies were shot on film, most looked really bad, since the shooting ratio was too low. Film was expensive, so people tended to shoot in short bursts. Film also required very bright lighting. Movie cameras were not low lux. Home movies have come a long way, but the term is still used in a derogatory way to describe boring video of low quality. I propose that we ban the phrase, since they aren’t movies anyway. How about personal videos or some other phrase? What’s your suggestion?

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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