Video Production: The Changing Face

Video Production: A Changing Face

The first motion picture was created in 1878 – a racehorse running, by shooting a series of fast still photos. This chemical process initiated the motion picture industry, which held until the1930s when video cameras came online. These cameras were analog, meaning the image and sound were recorded similar to how old phonographs played music. It was no longer chemical, but it was still ‘mechanical’, being an analog process.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that digital sensors led us to digital cameras, and soon tape formats were left behind as we now find a world where the process of capture and manipulation is all digital.

So that’s the history lesson. We now live in a digital video world, with cameras capable of incredible detail and frame rates. And with every smartphone, there’s another video camera online. Remarkable.

The production and post production tool set today was almost unimaginable 20 years ago. Not just the phones, but GoPro, RED, DSLRs, video drones and ubiquitous cameras for monitoring and security have transformed our ideas about video. Video r us. For those of us who have been video professionals in these times, it has been some ride.

The bad news is that everyone is a videographer. The smartphones have nice cameras, and there are plenty of simple tools for editing footage. We ‘pros’ suddenly have far more competition. The good news is that the same characteristics that were true in the early days of film – composition, lighting, acting, etc.- are still true today. Styles have changed dramatically, the pace of a typical production is much faster, but creating beautiful pictures still requires an eye and practiced skill.

As dramatic as these changes have been on the production side, post production has seen even more dramatic change. Editing went from ‘flatbed editors’ that mechanically cut film strips and spliced them, to early video editors which would snyc two video playing machines and then record to a third. First there was 2” tape, followed by 1”, the ¾” cassettes and more recently to ½ cassettes, the most popular being Sony’s Betacam.

It was not until the mid 1990s when ‘non-linear’ editing systems, that actually used digitized footage on a computer, created the editorial revolution. [And you thought the history was over.]

The editorial tool set today is vast, with money being the only limitation to creating any look imaginable. Along with robust editing software options, there are powerful compositing programs available today, the best known being Adobe’s After Effects.

The power of these tools is evident today in everything from Hollywood motion pictures to Skype avatars, that replace your face with some cartoon character during a video call.

Next time we’ll take a look at some of the more astounding possibilities for production and post production that are available to ‘filmmakers’ today. And yes, we’ll touch on tools for actually changing faces…:)

Jim Prues
Director, Panoptic Media
Cincinnati, OH, USA