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Then and Now 01

My 7 Paradigm Shifts

I thought I would start this new segment of my blog that I call “Then and Now” with a flashback on the paradigm shifts in my own video production business.

Today’s video producers have wonderful high definition, high quality tools to work with. Tools that enhance the beautiful images and storytelling skills that are expected in video today.

It wasn’t always the case.

I shot my first wedding video in 1977. (I was just a child.) I owned some video retail stores. We sold equipment and eventually rented movies. Customers would look at the equipment on my shelves and ask what they did. Video recording for the average consumer was new and confusing. ” You mean I can see myself on television?” “Time shift – what’s that?” VCR, VHS, BETA ? “Too technical for me!”

I was asked to tape a wedding. I had the equipment so it was assumed that I knew what I was doing. “Never let the customer see you sweat.” Sure I said I would do it. And I became a videographer. Believe me when I say that people couldn’t even pronounce the word – “video what?”

I started recording with a two piece unit. The camera – big and heavy and awful in low light – tethered to a side pack video recorder – again heavy and bulky compared to the modern day camcorder.

Around 1982 Sony and Panasonic introduced the camcorder – BETA and VHS. This was huge for the “Pro” videographer. Easier, lighter and BETTER battery life. But the quality of video hadn’t changed much.

Paradigm Shift #1

The Amiga A1000 computer from Commodore was introduced in 1985.

I was able to add professional looking graphics and titles to my productions. This was a big step forward and the future looked bright.

Paradigm Shift #2

I purchased the new JVC 611/811 VHS player recorder combination for $7200.00. Professional quality – slightly better video. But this equipment allowed me to make frame accurate edits. Precise editing – inserts. Linear recording only – but my productions became more creative and we got many thank you notes from happy brides.

Paradigm Shift #3

A small company in Topeka, Kansas led by a visionary named Tim Jenison introduced the Video Toaster for the Amiga computer in 1990. A hardware and software package that started the non-linear editing industry. Every editing system today uses non-linear editing. It was the word processor for video. Today I use Final Cut Pro X on a Mac computer to edit – non-linear video.

The company is called Newtek. They produce the world famous Tricaster today.

Video could now be edited out of the original order it was taken. BIG boost to creativity.

An interesting side note. In order to make non-linear work, a storage system was required to digitize taped video for use in the computer. Hard drives were invented for this storage purpose.

My first hard drive was 9 gigabytes. It cost me $4500.00! Last week I purchased two 5 terabyte

drives for $109.00 each. 10TB for $218.00! It is WAY easier to get into quality video production than it was in the “Pioneer” days.

Paradigm Shift #4

In 1995, Sony and Panasonic lead the way to DIGITAL video recording with the miniDV tape system. This was a big leap in the actual quality of the video being recorded. Video produced digitally looked a lot better. Videographers became more confident in their abilities to deliver visually high quality content.

Paradigm Shift #5

A new medium of delivery arrived around 1999 – the DVD. Finally we had something that could playback the higher quality of video we were achieving with digitally edited video.

Paradigm Shift #6

I’m including this because it became a big time saver. Digital video cameras now included hard drives and flash drives internally. This eliminated the weaknesses of videotape and kept everything in pristine digital quality. Downloading into a computer takes a couple of minutes.

An hour of tape takes an hour to download.

Paradigm Shift #7

Finally, my most current shift is the appearance of what some call the “fusion” camera. The digital DSLR camera that records video. Traditional still digital cameras used to record video.

Full HD – 2k -4k – Big beautiful images with INTERCHANGEABLE lenses! This is a huge boost to quality and creativity. Traditional video cameras have now adopted the chipset and lens features of DSLRs.

There it is. This is essentially my career history of growing up in the video production business.

Video producers have all the greatest and latest tools today.

Now that being said – I want to leave you with this thought.

A video production is not about the equipment and it’s really not about the techniques and it isn’t even about the experience you have. Video is all about the story. I’ll repeat that – Video is ALL about the story. Tell the story. Learn how to tell a story. Make the story look better with good production value. Good images. Good sound. Use good equipment – but tell the story. That’s all people care about anyway.

Allan Block , producer and editor. 612.207.4199

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