Making Movies: Newbie Tips, New Year Predictions
If you were very, very good this year, Santa might have brought you a digital camcorder for Christmas. He might have even brought you one if you weren't so good: In November, I saw a survey that found that 6 percent of those polled were considering giving a video camera as a gift. If you're one of the lucky recipients, read on: Here are my tips for getting the most out of your shiny new camcorder.
Camcorder Tips and Tricks
Make a short video. You've just gotten a fancy new toy, so make the most of it: Don't just point it at people and yell at them to do something interesting. Instead, sit down and think about what short videos you can make with your new camcorder. Why not, for instance, replace thank-you letters with a thank-you video? Film the kids saying thanks and playing with the gifts, then edit it, post it on an online video hosting service such as Ourmedia or Youtube, and send the link to friends and family. The video you shoot doesn't have to be an epic: Creating a short movie is the best way to get familiar with your camcorder and video editing.
Include the family. You want everyone in your household to share in the fun, so make sure that everyone gets a turn in front of and behind the camcorder. Even young children get a big kick out of making videos, and can use a camcorder with appropriate supervision. Why not get the kids to write a short film or act out a scene from a favorite book and film it? If you then edit the video and preserve it, it could make for great blackmail material when they start bringing home their boyfriends or girlfriends in a few years.
Get familiar with your camcorder. Now is the time to shoot lots of video. Try shooting in different situations so you know which modes work best in different lighting conditions. Experiment with rapidly turning the video camera on, so you can quickly capture the moment if something interesting happens; you'll soon work out how to turn it on and start shooting without having to think about which button to press.
Don't be a Camcorder Bore. However, just because you can make a video of everything doesn't mean that you should. Even though I write about camcorders and video, I hate it when I go to an event and someone points a camcorder at me without asking; it's just rude. I'm all in favor of recording special moments, but make sure that everyone is okay with it. Use discretion in capturing video: Remember that not every moment has to be recorded. Sometimes, a memory is better than a DVD.
The Year Ahead
With the new year just a few days away, it's time to think about what 2006 holds for camcorders and video. Here are my predictions for four big trends that we will see this year.
1. More high-definition camcorders. Sony broke new ground in 2005 with the HC1, the first consumer HD camcorder. It won't be the last; over the next year we'll see rival models from other manufacturers, and prices for HD camcorders will fall. But I don't anticipate that they will replace standard-definition camcorders quite yet: They'll remain high-end consumer models aimed at early adopters throughout 2006.
2. More hard drive-based camcorders. JVC was the first to jump into the category with its GZ-MG line in 2005, but in 2006 we'll see more manufacturers offering camcorders that replace videotape with a hard drive. These models offer some of the advantages of DVD (speedy access, no accidentally overwriting the video) along with the ability to store lots of video in a space not much bigger than a videotape. Although the videotape era is far from over, hard drive-based camcorders will be grabbing a large chunk of the market.
3. More integration with online video. More and more people are putting their videos online, and this trend is going to accelerate. I'll bet that sometime in 2006 we'll see a camcorder that can cut the PC out of this equation: You'll be able to capture a video, then press a button to upload it to an online video hosting service, ready to watch.
4. Video blogging goes mainstream. Video blogging is one of the big success stories of 2005: More and more people are starting to document their lives using online video blogs. This trend is going to continue as online blogging services add video options: Typepad already offers a free video blog service through Videoegg, and more sites will be doing the same soon. I'll bet that we'll see the same mainstream adoption we've seen with podcasts: Before you know it, celebrities will have their own video blogs. And that'll probably also be a sign that this particular bandwagon has been well and truly jumped on, and that the really cool kids have moved onto something different.