Is home video dying?

bw wrote on 3/18/2005, 12:26 AM
Have just returned from holidays in a number of countries as a tourist and make the obversation that a remarkable reduction of video cameras seemed to have happened amongst the average tour group. Digital still cameras, well doesn't everyone have one, of course. I would suggest that this is due to the terrible unedited home vids by the average Joe. A slide show of stills is at least watchable by the family and friends.
My question, could the mass rejection of video by the public alter the market so that development of cameras declines and the present bonanza we more serious amateurs have of cheaper and cheaper equipment also decline?
Mind you it could mean that manufacturers might concentrate on producing a good serious model only every couple of years instead of the multiple release of model after model every few months.


Grazie wrote on 3/18/2005, 12:42 AM
bw! Excellent obseravtions! Excellent! - I was only thinking about some family slideshows set to music. No video in sight at all! . . interesting interesting . .. AND the options for mobile phone snappers and the actual pcs now all geared for stills production .. . interesting . . .

Thanks for sharing this observation,

Serena wrote on 3/18/2005, 4:27 AM
Uncle Barny's slide shows used to be THE thing -- the thing to be avoided, if possible.
farss wrote on 3/18/2005, 4:44 AM
Only last week someone made much the same observation. Back in the days of 8mm home movies every family event was filmed. I've transfered the history of three generations of a family, their last days in Italy, the voyage to Australia, the subsequent births, baptisms and marraiges spanning maybe 80 years. No one today seems to care enough about who they are to make the effort or is it that as things become easier we become lazier about using them?
But I'd agree, it takes a concentrated effort to document a holiday on video, if you're not carefully it can easily turn a holiday into a chore.
Frenchy wrote on 3/18/2005, 10:30 AM
This is kind of OT, but here goes...

I'm getting ready to start doing a transfer of family home movies from 8mm (maybe 20-30 small reels), and am looking forward to the editing process, but am (somewhat) dreading the transfer process (can't afford a "professional" transfer - PLEASE don't start down that path ;))

Farss quote:

"I've transfered the history of three generations of a family..."

I'm assuming (I hate doing that...) that you started with 8mm home movies?

I have a run-of-the mill 8mm projector, and a box (Ambico brand, I believe) which is supposed to be for the transfer preocess - i.e. - one projects the film into this "box", which has a lens and small (4" diag) screen, at which you focus your camera, and record away (I can only hope it's that easy...)

So, farss, (or anybody else) - Did you do the transfer to DV yourself, and if so, are you willing to outline/share the steps and equipment used, as well as any hints/traps/pitfalls/suicide avoidance maneuvers? Or any direction to other threads/websites which have proven successful?

thanks in advance


Spot|DSE wrote on 3/18/2005, 10:51 AM
Those small Ambico boxes work well, but we had to do this recently with some old military film from the Tooele Army Depot, and we simply put up a screen on a wall, made it flat, and played with some exposure settings on the DV cam. Audio was transferred by using a stepdown DI box that took the speaker out of the 16MM projector and converted it to a line level balanced signal, fed straight into the inputs of the cam.
Biggest hassle is getting the distance correct, and getting the frame properly filled without barrel distortion, but with a little field monitor and some elbow grease, you'll get it figured out in no time.
Dan Sherman wrote on 3/18/2005, 11:17 AM
Discovered some old 8mm in 93 year-old aunt's attic recenlty.
50 plus years old.
Remember quality isn't so great in first palce.
Shot them off a screen..
Grainy with jerky camera movements.
Pass the Graval
But what a treasure to see loved ones,---many long gone, almost come back to life. It's all about content.
Seek these out get them on a hard drive,---lay down an audio track.
You will weep unless your heart is granite.
Show them to family,---send them as gifts.
Save them for the next 200 hundred years.

And the home videos of today will be as valuable in years to come and with today's NLEs they have a measure of quality to boot even as home movies.
Take a camera with you even if it's a handycan. Get it the habit. Fifty years from now your offspring will thank you.
The same people won't give a damn about those slick corporate projects you cranked out and made a million doing.
farss wrote on 3/18/2005, 2:54 PM
We had a 8mm 'telecine' made by Elmo. Basically a modified 8mm projector. Where the lamp went was used to house a single CCD camera, the lens was replaced by a 10 watt lamp with a diffuser screen in front of it. Most importnat mod was to replace the shutter with a 5 blade one thus avoiding the flicker problem.
You can get a good result projecting onto a matt white surface and using a video camera to shoot that. You need to use 1/50th shutter speed (or maybe 1/60th for NTSC). There's also a VD DeFlicker tool that you can use after you video the film.
It can pay to clean the film first, either pure ethanol or propanol with 10% distilled water and a soft cloth works as well as anything, make certain it has time to dry before it goes through the gate. You can also buy injection swabs from most chemists, they come soaked in propanol and work quite well for cleaning film. For those who think this all sounds a bit harsh, the cinemas use lighter fluid (Zippo) to clean their prints! Checking all the splices beforehand is also a good idea.
One day when I've got the time and if we decide to get back into the film transfer business I'll probably build my own film scanner using an old projector and a still camera, should be fun if nothing else.
DaB wrote on 3/18/2005, 5:49 PM
Get a nice still camera with a gig or 2 of CF memory and you have both stills and video good enough for most vacation vids. Plus you save plenty of space and carry-on problems.

t-keats wrote on 3/21/2005, 1:21 PM
Very interesting observation. And I think that home VIDEO is killing "home movies".

When home movies were shot on silent 8mm or Super 8mm FILM (or for the very wealthy - 16mm film), it was an expensive endeavor. A standard 3 inch reel of 8mm film would run about 4 minutes and cost almost $1 a minute (film plus processing).

Old school shooters were very selective of what they shot and how long they ran each shot.
Shots were mercifully short - they had to be. Today's home video maker shoots anything and everything and let's it run forever because it's C-H-E-A-P. That makes for some very unwatchable video.

Few amateurs have the time or interest to edit their own videos.
BrianStanding wrote on 3/21/2005, 1:54 PM
This all makes sense. I hadn't noticed this trend, maybe because I don't live in a very touristy city, but I have no doubt it's due to the reasons cited earlier.

In fact, I've been noticing sort of the opposite: everyone I meet lately calls themself a documentary film maker, and has hundreds of hours of DV tape in shoe boxes to prove it. Video or film cameras used to be something of a novelty... now no-one notices when I set up my PD-150 on a city street to get some pick up shots.

I'm fascinated with the idea that constraints (technological or otherwise) help make for better movies. (Anyone seen "The Five Obstructions?") If you can find them, take a look at the Lumiere Brothers first films: all shot in a single take, from a tripod, total film two and a half minutes, yet they're all gorgeously composed little gems with a clear beginning, middle and end.

I wonder if the little MPEG movies saved to a memory stick or a cel phone, rather than the DV-tape epic, are really the modern-day equivalent of Dad's super 8 films. Similar short duration, low resolution, and surreal dreamlike quality. And they require a similarl level of planning and efficiency to pull off.

Unlike Super 8, though, I'm sure no one will be finding treasure troves of memory sticks hidden in the attic twenty years from now.
Frenchy wrote on 3/22/2005, 3:16 PM
Thanks for the reply(s). I just wanted to bump this to the top for any additional info.

I think I'll dive into this on the weekend, and see how it goes...

I called a couple of local transfer houses, and the going rate seems to be about $0.15/foot plus a $30 setup fee. I might see if the family wants to chip in and have this done (put onto D8 for my camcorder, or maybe even DVD's as avi data files...). Then I can just transfer it to my PC and edit away. Any more comments?

Thanks again


ROTFLMAO - "Unlike Super 8, though, I'm sure no one will be finding treasure troves of memory sticks hidden in the attic twenty years from now."
PossibilityX wrote on 3/22/2005, 3:38 PM
BrianStanding, I saw "The Five Obstructions." VERY impressive and inspiring.
BrianStanding wrote on 3/23/2005, 10:00 AM
"I think I'll dive into this on the weekend, and see how it goes..."

Go for it! Definitely worth the effort to preserve! I have a bunch of old Super 8 movies in my cabinet, as well as some that my Mom had transferred to VHS a while back.

Some really fascinating travelogue material (for example, Beirut circa 1968, pre-bombing!). I use them occasionally when I'm looking for something more evocative than the usual stock footage.