Editor's Letter: So you want to learn how to make video with your computer?

Editing video with computers is the best way to make a video. Just a short time ago, most people making video would make copies (of the video scenes that they’d like included in the final program) from one videotape to another by using two VCRs. This process was cumbersome and tedious. As a result, the number and type of people involved in video production was low. Not many people pursued video production and those who did tended to be the sort of people that could cope with that type of equipment.

A few years ago, the computer began to challenge the old way of editing, but computer-video wasn’t for everyone. The configuration and maintenance of a video-editing computer was a complex endeavor, in and of itself. Conflict between VGA display cards and video capture cards made this process complex and challenging. As a result, the very first desktop video editors were mostly computer techies.

Today, most major computer makers offer models pre-configured for video editing. Apple, Dell, Gateway and Compaq all offer computers that are ready to start editing video as soon as the device is powered up. Now video editing programs are just another computer application like spreadsheets or word processing.

Today, the only things necessary to master are basic video acquisition skills, editing fundamentals and learning your software’s user interface. This is not to suggest that these skills are trivial. The important point is that the equipment and its user interface are becoming less of an obstacle for someone inspired to express themselves via video. The skills required to make video are far lower than ever before. This has a profound effect on the medium of television and the use of TV sets as communication tools.

In general, as the skill demands on the creator of the message are lower, the significance or utility of the message is diminished. For example, graffiti, as a communication form, requires that the user to be literate and have a large writing utensil (a spray can). The vast majority of graffiti is not useful or significant. At the opposite extreme are IMAX 3D/ ride simulation films. Shooting and editing IMAX 3D film is highly complex and expensive. As a result, the information conveyed via IMAX 3D film is primarily educational or entertainment and applicable for millions of people seeking entertainment.

I am sure that, just today, someone bought a brand new computer and is editing their first video. They are probably creating a message that is useful to a very small group of people. That’s what home movies are all about, a TV show for your family. What is exciting to me, is the person making an instructional video for Jack Russell Terrier dog trick training or a community access show for citizens of a neighborhood in Peoria, Illinois. These two examples of extremely specific programs aimed at a very narrow niche. Occasionally we use the word "slivercasting" which is a derivative of "broad" casting, to describe this type of programming.

Watching highly specific programming on TV allows us to be more individual. In the past 5 decades TV has helped to remove the unique differences among us. TV has had a profound effect on our culture. Compared to the 1940s, when TV was first introduced, we now all tend to drink the same brand beverages, use the same brands of soaps and wear the same jeans, regardless of where we live on the planet. Originally, TV made us all more alike. In the next phase of the TV revolution, TV will allow us to be more different. Now, even you, can make a television program!


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