V is for Video

| April 30, 2014

1. When I was about 5 years old, Pizza Hut was doing a promotion where you could get a free VHS copy of an X-Men cartoon if you spent a certain amount of money on pizza. My brother and I begged our mom to take us to Pizza Hut so we could get a copy of the cartoon. Eventually she caved to our requests and took us to Pizza Hut. We came home with a glorious VHS tape containing the first two episodes of the X-Men animated series.

2. The first “videos” or recorded moving images were developed in the late 19th century. The producers of these initial videos were content with recording something, anything, that moved. The filmmakers and the audience members were astounded that they could actually capture movement. The medium itself was fascinating enough content as the audience required. Now we expect our videos to have some content to entertain us or stimulate us in some manner. We are no longer amazed by the mere act of recording a video.

3. A tip for video movie production. Do not “cross the axis” during a sequence of dialogue. Imagine there is a line connecting the eyes of your two actors. The camera should stay on one side of that line, otherwise you get a jarring effect in which the actors do not seem to be talking to each other. In the diagram below, imagine having the man filmed with camera A.1 and the woman with camera B.2. They would seem to be looking in the same direction even when talking to each other.

4. My brother and I watched the X-Men cartoon over and over. For about two months it was the only thing we watched. This phenomenon is not uncommon in children. They tend to be able to watch and do things many times without getting bored. I’m sure every time our mother heard the X-Men cartoon starting up she found some shelter where she would not have to face the barrage of repeated viewings.

5. The first movie my brother and I made was on our parents’ videocamera. We had no post-production editing equipment, so our movie had to be shot in sequence. This dilemma made us focus on the location of each scene, as we did not want to come back to places where we had already filmed (for some reason). Therefore, the locations of our shots started inside our home and gradually extended outside and farther away from this beginning point.

6. One day the X-Men videotape would not play. It also would not come out of the VHS player. My brother and I were devastated. Our mother took the VHS player to a repair man (I guess it was expensive enough at that time to be repaired and not just thrown away) who was able to fix the VHS player. In doing so, he had to destroy our X-Men tape. Our incessant watching of that cartoon came to an abrupt and horrifying end.