Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2006-02-18
  Digital beats analog
I was one of the first ones to get a digital camera. Back in the stone age of digital cameras, I couldn't really afford one of the high end ones, but Kodak finally came out with the DC20, a low end camera and I was all over it. The pictures were 493x373 and it stored about 24 pictures in its meager built in flash, but it was less than $400 and I got one.

Kodak DC20

Sure the picture is worse than a $10 web cam these days, but this was 1996. I took a bunch of photos with it, and given the limited bandwidth back then, the image size was just right for the web (nobody was trying to print digital photos back then). You couldn't go mad with taking pictures given its limited memory and the frustratingly slow serial interface for downloading the pictures (which would often get stuck), but once you finally got the data off the camera onto your computer, you were all set to take more pictures.

woolstar snow

So I got used to taking pictures even when I wasn't committed to the result, and thus discovered the freedom that is frictionless photos. Jump forward ten years, and now I'm doing the same thing with video.

While tape was a great step over film (shooting a motion picture, even a low budget one, is an expensive proposition just from the point of view of the film itself, even if you do use shorts), and digital data on tape with digital transport to the computer made things painless to move around; digital storage for video takes the process from some pain to no pain. And standing at the point of frictionless video is truly remarkable.

JVC MC500

Yes, I finally got the JVC GZ-MC500, a tiny little unit slightly larger than a tennis ball, that shoots video (and still pictures) on to compact flash and secure digital data cards. The thing is so small that every surface is covered with connectors and slots: battery here, charger there, video out down below, USB link around the corner, SD underneath behind the screen (which swivels up and out of the way).

So I get the thing, unpack it, turn it on (it came with the battery half charged, instead of dead), start taking a movie of the kids running around, and my three year old comes up and wants to see. He's used to being able to see pictures on the digital camera as we take them, so I try to explain that this takes movies, not still pictures. "Zacky SEE it!" he insists. So I switch it from record to playback, bring up the clip in the menu and show it to him. He grabs my brand new toy, and goes running over to his brother to show him, "Look! Zacky and Max." He then goes on to replay the clip ten times in a row, finally handing the unit back to me after he's memorized every last bit of it.

There's no way I could have done that with a tape based unit. I would have been cringing at the first replay (just due to dropouts), let alone be able to explain the concept of tape shuttling with rewind, fast forward, tape counters, etc. Now the shot is the shot, and doing anything and everything with it is instantly possible. And my kids will never know there was any other way to do it.

 
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

ARCHIVES
January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / August 2008 / February 2009 / August 2009 / February 2010 / February 2011 / March 2011 / October 2011 / March 2012 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / December 2014 / February 2015 / March 2015 / July 2016 / September 2016 / December 2016 / April 2017 / June 2017 /


Blogroll
Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

Powered by Blogger