I remember when my parents bought their first video camera in the early 1980s. We sat around the kitchen table and marveled at its "compact" size and the ground-breaking technology used to enable us to record video with sound right on to VHS tapes. We dragged that camera on all of our family vacations; my brother and I used it to tape our own rock concerts and stupid human tricks — a la David Letterman.
I also remember how difficult it was to properly set up the camera. You had to make sure all the knobs and buttons were in the correct position and you had to keep your fingers crossed that it was actually recording. Playback was a whole other task that required extreme patience and a degree in mechanical engineering to make the VCR work.
And when I said we marveled at its compact size, my tongue was firmly in my cheek. Looking back, this thing was a coal-burner compared with video cameras of today. It was just slightly smaller than professional video cameras used by news crews and weighed about five pounds. Try holding that steady during a reenactment of Kiss' song Detroit Rock City. (And if you are wondering, my brother and I donned full Kiss makeup and took turns holding the camera during guitar and drum solos.)
My how things have changed. With the introduction of user-friendly video cameras, it's a snap to record a video and upload it to the Internet — no mechanical engineering degree required.
Indeed, at last year's Chem Show, I used a Flip camera to tape a few spots for Chemical Processing's Product-Focus Series (for an example, visit: www.ChemicalProcessing.com/multimedia/2009/product_focus_abox4u.html). I was the reporter and videographer. Instead of lugging around a huge plastic case filled with video equipment, I simply tucked the camera in my coat pocket. The camera is super small (about 4.5 inches long, 2.19 inches wide and 1.17 inches thick) and weighs much less than a pound. They call it a Flip camera because a built-in USB arm flips out of the side of the camera.
The Chem Show was our testing ground for these impromptu interviews. While these videos certainly aren't Hollywood quality, they provide yet another medium for getting information to you. In the future, we plan on doing many more video interviews. Our aim is to let you get a peek inside trade shows and conferences you may not be able to attend. Or to present you with information that’s much more valuable in a visual presentation. And if you’ve access to your own video camera, we'd love to see your chemical-processing-related videos, too. We may even post them on our site. Just make sure you have clearance to send videos recorded in your facility. Regardless of how easy it is to record and disseminate video, we still need to practice the craft within the letter of the law.
KISS fan Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.