Camcorders and "Home Movies"

Okay everyone, say 'Griswolds!'
Nowadays we can take pictures and video with a few taps of the touchscreen, but I remember a time when we actually dreaded making what we used to call "home movies." I remember how dad (usually dad) was always whipping the big-honking thing out every Christmas, birthday, and just any day he felt like being an amateur filmmaker, propping it up on his shoulder and gathering us all together to be the main attraction, whether we wanted to or not. I remember the "squint" in the view-finder, the ever-present JVC or Panasonic logo, the assortment of big glass lenses covered in fingerprints, and (though it may be total anachronism now) I remember a time when you really did see the little white lines and the blinking red "REC" in the corner when you recorded something. This is where it all comes from kids.

At least these days you can delete horrible shots, but there was a time when your dad's film ambitions would be stuck down on celluloid forever, whether they were picture-perfect Kubrickian high cinema or (more likely) Michael Bay shaky-cam clip show. How many of us have reams of celluloid devoted to us flipping the bird on vacation, getting pukey-faced after too much ice cream on our birthday, or the ever-popular "sitting on the toilet" voyeurism they used to torture us with? Home movies were always more of an interruption. How annoying was it to have to stop tearing into your presents on Christmas morning to announce "what you got" and "show it to the camera" every five minutes like the camera was a person and gave a damn? In fact, I will go out on a limb and say the camcorder was a weapon of psychological destruction... even if it couldn't have been any worse than what these "Disney World! Nah, just kidding..." Youtube parents do these days. At least our humiliations weren't broadcast for the whole world to see! So I guess you could say the camcorder has screwed up two generations of kids, or at least, the people wielding them have. "Daddy did it" indeed.

It was easier said than done anyways. I could never get camcorders to work right. Nobody ever seemed to know if they were actually recording when we thought they were recording, or not recording when we thought they were doing what they were doing when we thought they were recording, or just not recording. If that's confusing, then yeah, that's kind of what it was like. There was always some little "blinking light" hidden somewhere on it that would tell you, nevertheless, I can't tell you how many vacation videos were void of any of the sights and full of hour-long bouncy shots of the interior of the camcorder case. There'd always be that moment after we all got together in front of some landmark, all grinning like a bunch of fools, and dad (usually dad) would go, "Hmm... that's funny... it says the tape is out... I put a new one in two hours ago... just hold still family... got to figure this thing out here..." Better was sitting down later to see your dad's short shorts in a whole new light... for a half an hour.

Not only did I not care very much about making or viewing home movies, I don't know anyone who did. People even used to host parties and invite people over to watch their home movies, embarrassing the hell out of all involved, so I made sure whenever I got the spotlight, I'd make it worth it. I'd usually do things like smooch the camera lens or do a funky dance, just to give the people something. Likewise, my uncle used to play games with it, like turn it upside down randomly so that we were jumping on the ceiling, and my dad used to do "magic tricks" with it when we were little, using jump cuts to make us suddenly "vanish" from a shot. Those were always fun. And I got to say, every time I got to play around with one of these camcorders, getting to prop it up on my shoulders, it never failed to make me feel like an amateur Spielberg. If I had a touchscreen camera as a kid though, I'd probably be an amateur Spielberg by now.

Can I get a boom mic on this?

1 comment:

  1. You are right little boy; the old video cameras were bulky in weight and did not have enough features. People like your dad were making a lot of efforts for using them. Now the video cameras are slight in size and also has great features too. I always contact to Nalin for latest cameras that have great features and small sizes.