Learning from Videomaker
I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know how much I appreciate what I learn from your magazine.
I work as a buyer in the purchasing department of a major motion picture/television studio. Along with other commodities, I buy professional and consumer audio/visual equipment. My BS degree is in purchasing, not film or video, so I appreciate the technical information I get from your magazine. It helps me keep up with the engineers and departments I support.
It’s also nice to see you on the Internet.
Name and address withheld by request
Seeing is Believing?
I kept wondering if Joe McCleskey actually missed what I consider the most important point in his article “Video in History” (July 1995), or if he was merely winking at the reader.
I was troubled by his statement that video images don’t make mistakes or lie. The videomaker has a perspective to share by making a tape. Mr. McCleskey acknowledges that different videomakers have different perspectives, but he forgets that, as viewers, we have a responsibility to learn to think critically and not take the powerful images we see on video or TV as the gospel truth. Neither history nor video is sacred in any form, nor is the work free from the historian’s or the producer’s perspective.
He is correct in noting that images, especially moving ones, are powerful. But is seeing believing? He neglects to mention that video images can be manipulated to tell the story from whatever perspective the producer wants us to understand. It is very important to know who is making a tape for whom and for what purpose. Without the ability to discern that information, we might as well believe everything we see.
And many people do.
New York, New York
Thank you for your insightful response. While I never intended to give the impression that we should accept everything we watch without scrutiny, I did intend to make this point: that videotaped images are by their nature concrete, not abstract. To clarify: point a camcorder at a castle, and you’ll get an image of a castle. But read the documentary evidence about what happened inside the castle, and you’ve got history.
True, every video project carries with it a certain bias, and concrete images can be shown out of context to try to make a point. You can edit these concrete images together in a way that tells a powerful lie–but unless you somehow change the video (as Hollywood special effects artists did in Forrest Gump), the images themselves will show you what was in front of the camcorder when you pushed the record button.
As for modifying existing tapes to show what wasn’t actually there, that’s another article entirely.
Mark Steensland must have a direct psychic connection to my camcorder. As I was flying at an altitude of 38,000 feet, reading his article “Every Few Thousand Miles” (June 1995), my camcorder was at home dying a quiet death. I remember thinking, as I finished the article: “Boy, am I glad my camcorder has never gone down for the count.”
When I got home, I had the perfect opportunity to capture our friends and all of their children playing together at a party. Battery packs fully charged, I arrived and popped in a brand new VHS-C tape, flipped the power switch to camcorder mode, and…nothing happened.
I paid an extra $300 for the extended warranty when I bought my camcorder, so I gave my nearest factory service center a call. When I described the problem, they said to bring the unit on down and they would take a look at it…for $150. When I told him that I purchased the extended warranty, he suggested that maybe I just got a bad tape.
After having to go through this routine with several other people (“yes, it really is broken, please fix it and clean it for me”), I finally got it fixed and
From the get-go, it seemed as if the sole purpose of the repair service counter person was to convince me that there was nothing wrong with my camcorder. But with my Jersey attitude, the background knowledge I’ve gained from reading your magazine and the information in Mr. Steensland’s article, it all turned out okay.
Paul C. Nestler
San Ramon, California
I’m a new subscriber, and I enjoy your magazine. I think it’s professionally produced and a highly enjoyable read, but you don’t feature enough people on your covers.
Other than this, I really like your mag.
Kudos for Filter Piece
The information contained in the June 1995 issue about filters helped me to shoot some outstanding video on the Fourth of July. After reading the article, I purchased a skylight filter and a polarizing filter.
The fireworks in Chicago are launched from Lake Michigan, so the best view is obtained when sitting along the shore of the lake. I set up my gear in the late afternoon, when the sun was still bright. The polarizing filter did wonders–I was able to film boats on the lake and people strolling along the shore without any glare at all.
Without the information found in the filters article, all of my footage would have been unusable. Thanks for the useful information.
Robert P. Fries
In the 1995 National Association of Broadcasters show wrap-up that appeared in the “Quick Focus” section of our June 1995 issue, we mistakenly identified a new camcorder produced by Avid and Ikegami as the Cutcorder. The actual name of the product is the CamCutter. Our apologies.