Great hobby or not, videomaking has its share of irritating aspects.
Let us not disparage the video craft, but don’t you find some parts of it, well, irritating? Do any of these pet peeves resonate with you?
Wires, Wires Everywhere First, patch the wire leading from the mike to the mike jack on the camcorder, then the wire leading from the headphone output to your ears, then the wire leading from the video output to the monitor and finally the wire leading from the back or side of the camcorder to the ungainly AC/DC converter/battery charger (if you’re shooting indoors without batteries). Got all that working? Good; now pick up the camera and follow the talent. A fly more easily flies through a spider’s web.
Those are just the wires of shooting; what about the wires of editing? Let’s see–there are two audio wires, one video and one control wire coming out of your source deck. Patch the first two to your sound mixer, the next to your SEG–or computer–or record deck, and the latter one to your edit controller–or computer–or record deck. Keep going until you’ve gotten your character generator and audio and video monitors in the loop. Don’t forget to plug them all into your power bars. Everything working fine now? Then why, when you hit the “edit tape” button, does your dishwasher start; why does the spouse keep the door to your spidery edit suite closed, locked, and barricaded when guests arrive?
No Place to Mount Things For instance: the receiver for a wireless mike, small sound mixer or on-camera light. Such accessories really help, but each of them needs a place to perch. Many cameras no longer sport the “shoes”–either “hot” or “cold”– that would allow you to attach at least one of these devices. We see accessories everywhere dangling from cameras on those too-numerous cables like tin cans from the autos of newlyweds. These further reduce the mobility of the camera operator and increase the likelihood of short circuits and loose jacks. Else, we see the liberal application of duct tape to camera, accessories and camera operator.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if the makers of cameras and accessories all shook hands over a standard mount? Wouldn’t we all rejoice if they came up with one that allows us to compactly mount accessories on top of one another? Forget the fly in the web for a moment. The camera operator is Moby Dick harpooned, trying to make headway while trailing a half-dozen whaling boats.
Batteries Nickel cadmium batteries can make–have made–grownups cry. They are too heavy. They lose their charge just from sitting around. If we charge them before we exhaust them, they reward us with “battery memory,” refusing to charge completely. We see lighter, friendlier lithium-ion batteries slowly creeping into the market, battery refreshers that discharge completely before recharging and batteries that have built-in indicators to let us know how much juice they’ve got left.
However, all these ionized chunks of acid-immersed metals hail back to Alessandro Volta’s invention of 1800. (Parisians lit their subways in 1917 with the nickel-cadmiums, in particular.) Do you ever feel that we should have grown past this technology altogether by now? We’re a species that will soon enough explore Mars, yet we still lug around our 19th-century-batteries like the Paleolithic lugged clubs.
No Standard Editing Control The makers of Hi8 camcorders, bless their bones, now routinely make cameras with Control-L (LANC) jacks. If you’ve got one of these, you can use your camera as a source deck in any standardized editing setup. For a reason shrouded in mystery, however, the makers of the VHS family of consumer cameras still refuse to place a standard two-way editing jack (e.g. “5-pin” control) on the lion’s share of their models. We could almost forgive them this if they at least placed these jacks on their VCRs. That way we could use their VCRs as fairly accurate source decks for tapes shot with their camcorders. Control-S and “synchro-edit” jacks don’t cut it for people who like their edits neat.
What’s the point of publishing such peeves? To vent, but not to rant against an industry so filled with innovation. These tools have grown muscles since their birth.
Nevertheless, someone might wrestle with one of these gripes to proclaim something new–technical-wise or marketing-wise. That genius of design would make the video world a bit better for us all.
Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.