Viewfinder: No Space

When moving pictures and sound were first captured, the medium was film. An hour of film was stored on a reel that weighed several pounds and was the size of a pizza box. In the 1950s, a new type of magnetic recording tape was invented for something called video. The moving images and sound were now stored on a reel of videotape. An hour of film was stored on a reel still weighing several pounds and larger than a pizza box.

In the early 1980s, consumers could record video on videocassettes, which weighed less than a pound and were the size of a box of crackers. Over time, researchers devised ways to store an hour of video on smaller and smaller videocassettes. Sony’s MicroMV was about the size of two US quarter coins and weighed about an ounce. By 2010, video can be stored on SD cards. The smallest is microSD, the size of one US dime and weighing a few grams. A 16-gigabyte microSD card can hold 16 hours of video.

Just when you think it could not get any smaller the Flip video camera changes the paradigm. The video is stored with internal memory. When the battery needs recharging, the user plugs the camcorder into a computer. While the battery is being charged, the video is automatically uploaded to “the cloud”. At this point is seems that video is consuming no space.What happens when video requires no space?Users stop worrying about the resources required to capture and keep video. As they move from a mindset of scarcity to abundance, how does this effect their use of the tools of moving images and sound?

Certainly, people record more video but this is not necessarily a good thing. As more video is shot, more time is required to screen, log and edit the video. Some people may tend to edit their video into longer presentations, which consumes more of the viewers’ time.

It is certainly possible that video creators can misuse video by recording too much or editing out too little. As the cost or overhead of capturing and storing video approaches zero, this is a good time to consider the opposite. How can you shoot and edit video in the most concise way possible? Even if you do this just as an exercise, it is a valuable lesson to convey your point with as few minutes or seconds of video as possible.

Sometimes this exercise reminds us of our most basic responsibility as communicators. What exactly are we trying to convey? Are we just spewing information because it makes us feel good? How can we best serve our audience? What do they need to be taught or how can we best entertain them?

Making video isn’t about you, it is about your audience. Some of you will reach millions of people with your videos. If you are not fastidious about the use of their time, you will waste lots of it. Video creators need to be careful about using too much of a good thing.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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