Observations and arguments.

New Home Cinema: Foundations

New Home Cinema: Foundations

The evolution of home movies from a 20th century closed system (screened within the home) into a 21st century mass medium (with worldwide distribution) has required the confluence of several advances in technology. These technologies are for the most part the same as those that have helped make videoblogging possible:

1. Image Capture (Creation)

The most significant technology shift in consumer motion picture recording has been the change in consumer recording formats from analog (editing and distribution bound by original media, lossy duplication methods) to digital (easier conversion to alternate modes of editing and distribution, lossless duplication). Of note here also is the accompanying reduction in size and weight of cameras made possible by the evolution in formats.

2. PC Editing (Creation/Manipulation)

As digital video codecs improved, so too did processor and hard drive speeds in consumer-level desktop computers. FireWire (and USB2.0) added the final link, by making peripheral throughput fast enough to transfer digitally a DV signal into the computer for manipulation and editing. Before long, free nonlinear digital video editing software (iMovie, Movie Maker) became standard issue on all consumer PCs.

3. Broadband adoption (Distribution)

DSL and cable internet access also reached critical mass in the US among households with PCs and digital video cameras, making it easier to upload and view video online. Advancements in video codecs have also aided this evolution, by making file sizes smaller and audio/video quality better.

4. File hosting (Distribution)

In 2005, nonprofit (Ourmedia/Internet Archive) and commercial (Blip.tv, Google Video, YouTube) services began to offer free hosting and bandwidth for user-contributed video. Moreover, they offered file uploads via a web browser, further lowering the knowledge requirements of consumers wishing to post their videos online.

5. Publishing (Distribution)

Several of the hosting services were designed to support custom websites, such as those made possible with the use of free blogging tools (Blogger, WordPress, Feedburner). Building upon the infrastructure developed by bloggers and podcasters, video creators were able to utilize RSS2.0’s enclosure capabilities to distribute their work to audiences directly, for offline viewing on a computer or portable viewing device. Others (YouTube, Google) were offered as online destination sites, at which media makers could share video with their family and friends without having to design a personalized online presence. Within the publicly browsable, searchable, taggable destination site, these personal, previously private videos are available to be discovered by strangers with extra time on their hands.

In my interviews with 21st century home moviemakers I intend to ask about each of these areas, and which have been the key contributing factors to the creation and publishing of their work. While I may do a quick summary of the specific tools they use, I’ll also ask them to reflect on the future of these technologies: what they’d like to see, what they expect to see.


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