Keeping up with today’s technology can be challenging. Even mastering technology from three or four years ago can often feel like we’re navigating a minefield. Remember trying to connect your web-enabled Blu Ray player to your home network? Yeah, me too.
With advancements in technology coming at breakneck speed, staying in-the-know can be a full-time job. It’s been said that by the time a gadget hits store shelves, it’s often already obsolete; in many cases, the next generation is already through research and development. Nevertheless, staying abreast of the latest gadgetry has its perks, and technology is providing an outlet to creative types whose projects would’ve been cost-prohibitive as little as ten years ago.
Allow me to explain. I just got a new cell phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S II, and I love it. It comes equipped with 16 gigabytes of memory, expandable to 48 GB, and a video camera that shoots in HD (1080p). This isn’t a sales pitch, I promise. It’s meant to be illustrative. Try to recall ten years ago. How often did you hear about HD? Remember your cell phone? If it had a calculator, it was state of the art.
You might have heard the often-cited fact that today’s cell phones have far more computer power than NASA had in 1969—when it put the first astronauts on the moon. Today’s Sony Playstation, with its $300 price tag, has as much computing power of a multi-million dollar military supercomputer in 1997—just 15 years ago!
Francis Ford Coppola, one of the greatest film directors the art has ever known, made a stunning prediction in 1991. “[With advancements in technology,] people who wouldn’t ordinarily make movies are going to be making them. Suddenly, one day, some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the next Mozart—and make a beautiful film with her father’s camera. And for once, the so-called ‘professionalism’ about making movies will be destroyed forever—and it’ll really become an art form.” While Coppola might seem a little indelicate, his prediction was spot-on.
Coppola based his predictions on the sudden rise of 8mm camcorders, but technology has advanced far beyond anything he might have envisioned in 1991. And it isn’t just capturing high-quality video that has become attainable—tremendous advances in digital video editing have made it so easy, anyone can be a weekend Scorsese.
Most computers come with a basic video editing software—either Microsoft Movie Maker or Apple iMovie. Dozens of other programs are available for free download. If you’re willing to invest a little time, with a little experimenting and self-teaching, you can create a pretty spectacular short film.
I remember, in 1998 or ’99, helping some friends edit a school video project. This was in the analog days, and it had to be done on VHS tapes. We had access to the high school’s video-editing machine, which was worth thousands of dollars, and was the only one in our small hometown. The process was tedious, to say the least, and the final product was amateurish. We were proud of ourselves, but with today’s technology, it would have taken a fraction of the time, and the quality would be exponentially better.
If you’re so inclined, put this upcoming three-day-weekend to good use. Capture some video on your cell phone or camera, and spend a little time editing it into a masterpiece. Perhaps you can make a music video for your favorite song, or tell that story you’ve always wanted to share. Make Coppola proud, and destroy the snooty professionalism that has ruled the film world for far too long.
Originally printed in “Pulse,” 05/24/12.
© Damien Willis, 2012. All rights reserved.