Monday, May 12, 2008

The FLIP Camcorder

David Pogue gave rave reviews this week in the NYTimes to this new inexpensive, super simple camcorder, called the FLIP. For about $150 it is the modern (video) equivalent of the old Kodak Instamatics that really helped bring photography to the masses. You'd think i would be all for that.

This isn't a review. I think the Flip looks great and i'm heading out today to get one and play. Everyone is excited about this product, which seems to rapidly be dominating in the camcorder market (they say about 10% of all camcorders selling are these).

But this Flip comes at a time (for me) where i'm also experimenting with the new versions of iMovie that came out this year from Apple. I've been pretty critical of iMovie over the years, but still unable to escape its simplicity. I tend to alternate between iMovie and Final Cut depending on what i'm doing, although i figure most people would use one or the other. But iMovie 08 is very different from older versions. It's not just improved, but it was fully reinvented. And it wasn't just re-invented, but it was re-invented by video uberguru Randy Ubillos, the creator of Adobe Premiere and later, Apple's Final Cut Pro. That's quite a resume. And now he has tackled iMovie.

But what I see is an interesting trend that may be great for the video market, and good for consumers, but bad for videographers. Bad in the sense that there is a growing trend to place video in the category of photography - that the only significant difference between a snapshot and a video is that one lasts a bit longer (and takes up more MB of space on your laptop). I call these "Video Snapshots" and they are interesting, i suppose, in a 3D movie sort of way, but not products that particularly interest me. I want to make things from my video. Most people do not. And iMovie, particularly when combined with the new rash of Memory Chip type of digital camcorders (of which the Flip is one), further pushes folks away from making sketches, and towards storing lots of little video snippets that stand alone, like photos. Now I have nothing against these cameras really (and i like how they will introduce more people and new generations to video), but it highlights a growing hole in the market for the hobbiest...

I'm thinking a lot about this these weeks, while i'm working on the LDVB. It makes me think that while technology makes video easier, we're in a small period now where its actually going to get a little harder to make video sketches, or to learn about telling stories with video. That's all. Just an observation.

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