Can I drive my car through this intersection? All drivers ask this question every time they get to a traffic
light, and they get the answer in the form of a color–green, red or yellow. In fact, you can answer most
questions with one of these three colors, and editing video is no exception.
I propose that some video hardware manufacturer apply the same simple “three-choice answer”
interface to the process of video editing. This would be of particular value to people who have no plans to
ever be too serious about editing, but have a basic desire to discard unwanted material.
Here’s how it would work. The videomaker would have a remote control with only three large buttons
on it–green, red and yellow–and the words “yes,” “no” and “maybe” printed on the buttons. To watch
their video, they would have to hold down one of the three buttons at all times; otherwise, the tape would
go into pause. As the user held down the buttons, the remote control would log the decisions. Green would
stand for “copy this scene onto another tape,” red for “skip it” and yellow for “let me see it again so I can
hit the green or red button after further review.” This system would not allow for rearranging of scenes; all
it would do is allow the users to omit undesirable video. It’s quick, cheap and easy.
An additional accessory might be another device similiar to the remote. This device would rest on top of
the TV so other people watching the tape could see what video you’re deciding to keep. That way, as you
pressed the green button, the green light on top of the TV would light up. This would lend itself to
In reality, this already happens when people watch video. The green button is equivalent to letting a tape
play. The red button is the fast forward button, and yellow is rewind and then play again. The problem with
this method is that the viewer has to do it every time they watch the videotape.
Once some company offers this type of editor, camcorder owners will derive much more value, utility
and fulfillment from their investment, keeping only those images that they like. Of course, if someone uses
this interface and decides that they like editing, they can move on to more sophisticated editors.
Another product on the horizon is the digital camcorder. By now, you’ve all heard that the industry has
agreed on a single digital videotape standard–DVC. It’s one-fourth of an inch wide and will hold at least
an hour of video. I think it’s wonderful that there’s one standard and one less format war to look forward
to. The image quality is far superior to S-VHS or Hi8, and because it’s digital, you can make copies of
copies of copies to no end and still see no loss in quality.
Expect to see the first DVC units out by early 1996. Since the compression circuitry has been
standardized, this could easily lead to digital camcorders that record on media other than tape.
Using the same compression circuitry, it’s also feasible that the recording media could be a write-once
CD-ROM, a mini-disc or a hard disk like those in laptop computers. In fact, the device could resemble a
laptop PC more than a camcorder in design and configuration.
Laptops are modular; they accept standardized add-on devices in a slot. Our future digital imager could
include a slot for the video compression circuitry. As the compression technology improved, the user could
upgrade the compression card. The recording media would also “dock” onto the laptop imager, as would
the user’s choice of viewfinder–anything from an optical model (a hollow tube like a rifle scope) to a color
5-inch LCD screen. The laptop imager would connect to a PC (via the new high-speed digital “Firewire”
standard) and allow the user sophisticated editing features. Once edited, the videomaker could copy their
program to VHS, if need be.
In fact, a product like this is feasible right now. Today, this device would be expensive and the image
quality poor, but it could possibly look as good as Quicktime or Video for Windows. It would be a good
choice for videomakers whose final product ends up on a PC.
Whether these two products will ever see the light of day is unknown at this point, but one thing’s certain:
plenty of videomakers would find them useful, at both the high and low end of the craft.