History of Video Now and Then





Now and Then From huge shoulder-mounted camcorders to smartphones; from mega tape-to-tape editing suites to simple computer editing; from VHS distribution to the internet; from streaming video to instant YouTube uploading, video has come a long way! When Videomaker magazine first hit the newstands in 1986, video cameras were just beginning to make a foothold in consumers homes. Our first few issues were full of stories about those darn Format Wars Beta vs. VHS, remember that concern? In fact Beta versus VHS was so prevalent at the time that we devoted full issues to each format, along with VHS-C and 8mm.

Although each format was very different, they all shot video using the same physical recording device: videotape. [image:blog_post:13112][image:blog_post:13113][image:blog_post:13114] VHS-C was featured in our June issue 1986 issue and 8mm (Video8) in August, followed by VHS in October 1987. Of the 58 camcorders featured the average price was a whopping $1646. Only one camcorder was priced under $1000, the Zenith VM6150 Sharpshooter VHS. Tthe Minolta CR-8000S 8mm camcorder was the only one that topped the $2000 mark at $2186. Imagine that! Today, you can get a pretty beefy camcorder for $1600, and a pro-level cam for $2000! We featured only 2 Beta format camcorders and we had a sidebar that stated: Beta camcorders remain a viable option for quality minded video producers. Boasting the highest resolution among consumer-level formats, (until the arrivals of Super-VHS and ED Beta,) and benefiting from excellent format-specific editing capabilities, Beta is especially practical for dubbing to other formats.

Although Beta was a superior format, VHS eventually won out do to price and availability, although, if you ask me, $1600 in 1986 was a VERY high price for a toy for the average household. Not a lot of Video Memories were being made back then – not by the average family, at any rate – but that was just the beginning. As soon as the prices started to drop and the cameras became easier to use with better quality, the video genie was out of the bottle and not about to go back. Consider the quality we have now for a sub-$300 camera, it really blows ones mind!

Since then the omnipresent video of today has surely changed not only the way people keep precious memories of their familys lives, but has changed the world as recent events in the Middle East has shown us. So for a "blast from the past," lets take a look at a few numbers to compare how camcorder sales have affected the way people track events around them using video cameras.

In the Early Years – Growth In the Fall 1987 issue of Videomaker, we wrote: "The Electronic Industries Association reports, in terms of percentage growth, the hottest video hardware product is the camcorder. For the first six months of 1987, camcorder sales totaled more than 580,000 units. The statistic reflects a 49 percent jump over the previous year." In 1990, Newtek introduced the Video Toaster, considered the first non-linear editing system. It wasnt long after that that Videomaker began dividing its editing features between tape-to-tape editing and non-linear editing tips. Non-linear was clunky, processor heavy, and expensive; computers were pricey and few people wanted to go that route. The TV station I worked at then was a test market for a lot of industry products and we were one of the first in the country to work on the Toaster. It was the first time Id touched a computer and it was a bit daunting. Tape-to-tape seemed so much faster, but that changed in time.

Just a Decade Later Almost a decade after the camcorder sales began to soar, the Consumers Electronics Association (CEA) reported that VCR sales didn't reach the million-dollar-or-more mark for the first time since 1987. Camcorder sales topped out at more than 5.32 million but after just a short lifespan, VCRs were on a tailspin down. Sales of analog VCRs dropped off 44.4 percent to only 758,800 units. That tailspin, of course, was due to DVD. But if you ask me, the superior quality to DVD didnt improve my temper when a disc refused to play because it was scratched, warped or corrupted at least a VHS tape almost always played, even if it did give you tear lines and drop-outs. Even if the tape broke, a quick fix was easy to do, if you had the know-how; you might lose a few inches where the breakage occurred, but not the entire video. In 1996, we featured some new and exciting news about "Videogram" sending video files via email and the WOW news about a process to place 30-seconds of video on a floppy disc, thus opening the doors to mass distribution for the consumer. It seems so odd today, to consider this being such a concern Videomaker dedicated a lot of space to the how to get your video seen conundrum. And it was usually only so a small group of people could see your video today millions can see it with just one click.

Enter the 21st Century By the turn of the century, (THIS turn of the century, not that other one!), we stopped giving you tips about tape-to-tape editing: everything was non-linear. Once non-linear editing became affordable and easier to understand for the masses, anyone from school kids to grandmas could edit video. That is if they wanted to this isnt saying they had any skills composition, pacing and style will always rise to the top!

Big Screen Desires Morphs into Tiny Screen Distribution In 2004, we wrote our first article about shooting for viewing on small devices like PDAs and some cell phones and we imagined the possibilities of how one would need (or want) video on such a small device.

Blurring the Lines By 2005, a new product on the market marked the beginning of what many users were looking for: an all-in-one still shooter and video camera. Samsungs SCD5000 DuoCam was both video and digital still camera that used two separate lens components to deliver both high quality video and four megapixel stills, which was considered pretty darn big for the time. The beginning of the hybrid camera/camcorder was upon us.

ME-TV! 2005 also brought us the One Site that Links Us All: YouTube. Its hard to believe that it was only a few short years ago that YouTube was launched, making user-generated content all the rage in MeTV-land. Video uploading became easier, and finally, once you figured out how, you could share your video with the world a daunting thought back then.

Computer Phones Hello, Dick Tracy! In 2007, Steve Jobs brought us the first mobile phone with a multi-touch screen meant to be more computer than phone the iPhone, and just a few short years later, in 2010, we were finally able to do what only network TV could: share live video anytime anywhere when Steve Jobs announced the FaceTime video chat for the iPhone 4. https://www.videomaker.com/community/videonews/2010/06/8006-iphone-facetime-video-chat-imagine-the-possibilities/

Great Video on a Phone is anyone talking anymore? Although we wrote our Shooting for the Small Screen in 2004, we didnt review any mobile phones until 2010 when Motorola came out with the Droid. What made this standout for video producers was that although cell phone had been able to shoot video for a few years, this was the first that could upload to YouTube. MeCams became Instant worldwide distributors almost on par with network TV for the first time.

The World is Watching I was at a carnival recently and say a man using an iPad to record video of his kids on a pony ride. What do you think is next? Today, with so many affordable devices that shoot incredible video, everyone can be video producers, even if they still can't shoot worth beans, if the many videos you have to sort through on YouTube are any barometer. Someone needs to send these video producers some Videomaker gift subscriptions! Here are a few video stats you might find interesting, from Videomaker's 25th anniversary feature.

Timeline of Video Production Milestones
1964 Videocassette for consumers idea developed by Koichi Tsunoda, a Sony engineer
1968 – Sony Portapak introduced as first consumer two-piece video recorder
1975 – Sony introduces Betamax decks
1976 – JVC brings VHS decks to market
1981 – IBM introduces the PC
1982 – Sony and JVC concurrently bring first consumer camcorders to market
1984 – Apple introduces the Macintosh
1985 – Sony introduces Video 8 format (some sources say Kodak did this in 1984).
1985 VHS-C developed
1986 – Videomaker issue # 1 Launched in June
1987 – S-VHS introduced
1988 – Hi8 introduced
1989 – "America's Funniest Home Videos", debuts, giving camcorder owners the chance to see others videos, and maybe win money with their own videos. 1990 – Newtek introduces the Video Toaster, considered the first non-linear editing system
1991 – First CD-burner
1992 Sharp introduces first LCD screen for camcorder
1992 First smartphone the IBM Simon
1995 – miniDV introduced by Panasonic
1996 – Hitachi introduces three models with flip-out LCD monitors
1996 – First DVD-ROM players
1997 – D-VHS introduced
1999 Blair Witch Project first successful movie made with consumer camcorder
1999 – Digital 8 introduced
1999 iMac DV One of the first consumer NLEs introduced (iMac DV)
2000 Hitachi introduces first DVD-RAM camcorder
2001 – First DVD burner
2003 Major camcorder manufactures standardize high definition video (HDV) format.
2003 – Hitachi Introduces DVD camcorder
2004 – JVC announces first HDV camcorder 2004 Panasonic and Sanyo release first flash memory camcorders
2005 Samsung introduces the DuoCam a still camera and video camera in one [image:blog_post:13115]
2007 Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone 1-million units sold in first 74 days (iPhone 3Gs reportedly sold 1.6 million units in the first week.)
2008 – Nikon releases D90 – First DSLR to shoot video
2009 Motorola Droid released 1.05 units sold in first 74 days
2010 Apple releases iPad
2011 iPad 2 released, with live TV abilities
2010 Apple releases iPad 2011 iPad 2 released, with live TV abilities

Daniel Bruns
Daniel Bruns
Dan Bruns is an award winning cinematographer and editor.

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