In 1986, when I was 16 years old, my late, beloved grandma (Betty Koch) bought me my first-ever video camera. It was a bulky, unwieldy, Panasonic VHS cassette-containing number that came with a chunky, rechargeable battery the size of a Wonka bar. Grandma had taken me shopping for the unit at the now-defunct Circuit City in Woodland Hills when she flew out here from Michigan for a visit, and I knew for a fact I had chosen wisely. She even threw in a pricey camera bag and tripod because she was so very good to me.
I made SO many silly little movies with that thing. I mean, basically the same kinda stuff I do today. Fun with friends…weird, random shit…interviews…channelings…you name it. And, yes, I DO still have the footage. Somewhere…
I had that camera for 20 years until it finally sold in a yard sale. Bittersweet, indeed. But also relieved that I didn’t have to show up to capture crap for other people anymore. “Oh, Max, aren’t you a videographer?? Is there any chance you can come shoot my casting director showcase this Sunday night? I’d like to study my acting choices in the footage after.” GROAN.
I’ve had many cameras since, and playing with 16mm during my brief stint at CalArts film school was fun. The camcorder I brought on my first trip to Europe, however, was a nightmare. I mean, who’s BRIGHT IDEA was it to shoot (burn) on little, unreliable mini-DVDs that don’t play back properly?! Frustration City.
Wow. CalArts. It’s so funny. I SO thought I was gonna be this serious, important filmmaker. No, I know the truth. I became a goofball VIDEO maker. Make no bones, I embrace it. I do.
The viral videos I made for YouTube were actually shot on a 2005 Canon Powershot (a still camera) with a video record feature. I STILL make occasional magic on that thing. The screen ratio is 4×6 (did I seriously just type that?) but the sound is better than most cameras I’ve used. And nothing but nothing beats the invention of the of the SD card.
Okay, sorry, NOW I’m boring mySELF! It’s just amazing that I ever managed to figure out ANY of this “How Will I Ever Shoot Footage?” crap on my own. With NO help.
Which brings us to the smartphone. I think a lotta work still needs to happen as far getting the sound just right on these things, but that can always be enhanced in cutting. And while I’m the kinda guy who doesn’t always have the patience to wait-until-I-get-home-to-edit, I have to say that just being able to whip out my iPhone 6 whenever and wherever the hell I want has been a DEFINITE creative expression enhancer. To impromptly capture a minute of my dogs being dumb…or exploit an oddwin…or stage a sudden “skit” or stunt on the street has been TANTAMOUNT to my development as an artistic person. Footage, baby! Footage! Shoot, shoot, shoot! All the time. ALL the time. And I do. I REALLY do. It’s like an addiction. (Great. Just what I need. ANOTHER addiction.)
Case in point: I thought it would be fun to compile some of the more “memorable” iPhone videos I’ve made in recent years and post them on YouTube for my fickle subscribers. A lot of this stuff is junk, I get it, but if it somehow becomes any part of my twisted legacy, then fair enough, I say. Because this is ALSO who I am and what I’m about. And if you find it offensive that I will discreetly shoot an old person in a wheelchair or a hefty being in a mobility scooter and then give them a funny voice AS I’m doing it…just understand that the outside world and its fabulously-faulty human dwellers can be a sturdy canvas for me. (And, out of fairness, we never see their actual faces.)
So give ’em a glance, won’t you? Ideally, with some stemware in your hand. More footage to come! Footage!
WINE PAIRING: Since we’re talking about cameras, the internet, and taking pictures – albeit ones that move – check out all the kickass Wine Photography on Pinterest…and have a safe, reflective, wine-soaked holiday weekend!