Why does the average camcorder owner shoot for only seven hours a year?
Why do most wait for special events to prompt them to take their cams out of their closets? By
definition, special events seldom arrive. Why do others put off shooting new material until they have
“edited all the footage” they’ve already shot? They know this never happens.
These are symptoms of a psychosomatic disease. Experts call it Camcorder Avoidance Syndrome,
“CAS” to make it sound properly obscure and clinical. When an inspiration comes into your head to take
out your camcorder next weekend, it is CAS that makes you forget the thought within minutes. If you jot
down the idea before you forget it, CAS makes you forget to charge the batteries on Friday night. One way
or another it will not let you open the closet to get your camcorder. It will stop you with this: “It’s just too
We put depth technophobia psychologist Karlheinz Sigmund Farnsworth on the case. According to
Farnsworth, CAS is nothing more than an assumption, rooted deeply in the patient’s psyche, that
camcorders are for video production. “Video production is a ‘big deal’ in most people’s minds. We believe
it requires much time and effort. We hesitate to embark on it, like mountain climbing, until we feel
sufficiently prepared and energetic. The CAS patient is simply one paralyzed by the prospect of such a big
project. If we can only get the patient to see the camcorder for what it is, he could drop his fear and
approach it with a peaceful heart. A camcorder, after all, is nothing more than a recording mechanism.”
Thus spake Farnsworth.
His therapy? Use the camcorder for tasks other than video production. Farnsworth feels that CAS
victims should practice at least one of these exercises a day until CAS disappears. As all camcorder owners
are ever in danger of contracting the disease, he recommends that they should practice one of these a week
as a CAS preventative.
Use the camcorder as a still camera. Forget about sound; forget about motion; forget about the
complexities of video editing. You will need some other tools, however. One such is a video printer. Plug a
cable from the video out jack on your camera to the video in jack on your video printer and send snapshots
to your relatives to your heart’s content. Or use a computer with a still frame capture device attached.
Capture still frames from your camcorder to your hard drive. From there you can post them on your
personal Web site, e-mail them to friends and relatives, print them on your printer, have your local copy
shop print them on their high resolution color printer, or have your local photo shop save them onto photo
Use it as an audio tape recorder. Forget about the picture altogether. It’s amazing how many camcorder
owners don’t realize they’ve got a high-quality audio tape recorder at their disposal. Leave the lens cap on
if that helps you think of it as an audio tape deck. Then use it that way. Dictate letters and memos to it;
record music with it. Plug cables from the camcorder’s audio output jacks into the auxiliary input jacks on
your stereo amplifier for high quality playback. The neat thing about this audio tape recorder is
that it can record pictures whenever you need it to. Say you need to write a letter ordering a special part to
replace a worn one on your car. Take the camcorder to the car so that you can dictate a description of the
part while you are looking at it. While you are at it, why not take a shot of the part itself and send it along
with the letter as a still?
Use it as a pen. Why write letters to friends and family at all when you’ve got a camcorder? Say what
you’ve got to say to the camcorder and mail them the tape. Camera shy? Put that lens cap back on and talk.
Send it as an audio tape. Or point the camera at something interesting to look at, besides yourself, while
you are talking.
“Once people at risk for CAS try a few of these things,” says Farnsworth, “they start inventing new uses
for their camcorders themselves. That is a sure sign they have overcome the disease.”
Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.