Saturday, October 4, 2008

The right video camera

It seems that the modern family commits much of its activities to video. Of course, the degree to which this occurs depends entirely on the camera. What we did first is research all of the options and then got convinced by the sales person that we needed one with features; you know, like making it an old-style grainy feel should the mood take us.

After a few years, we had a bunch of tapes (as they were called in those days) and had watched none of them. It was then that I embarked on a three month project of moving those tapes to DVD using the Mac's iMovie and iDVD which had just come out. This involved careful identification of scenes, dates and accompanying music as well as some artistic work on the DVD menu. This led to a bunch of DVDs covering most of the time period up until that point -- well, except for 3 months where I was too busy working on the DVDs to actually video the kids.

Now we do look back at the DVDs but doing that became a chore a couple of years ago. At the same time, Apple upgraded iMovie to a version that didn't work well with iDVD but did work well with a hard disk camera that we purchased. So we ended up importing lots of video to the computer, not editing them, not cataloging anything and not really watching anything. What was more, the whole exercise of having a video camera when you needed it was a big problem with bigger kids.

But at long last I think I have found the perfect compromise. It is the featureless Flip Video Camera. This is a little device that you can put in you pocket and literally whip out whenever you need it. It takes one hour of footage (which is more than enough) at a good (but not great) quality. You then plug it straight into the computer (with no additional cables!), it charges and you can download the footage straight to iPhoto or, if you want to edit or share, to anything else. The end result is that we are now actually using the camera and capturing those moments. To be sure, no one will be making a feature film on this but that is the lie of the video camera industry. You just want a memory and if it comes with automatic graininess in the future, so be it. Oh yeah, it is cheap (starting at US$150 on amazon).