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The Business Of Home Video

The technology of home video has it's roots in the mid 1970's with the advent of Sony's u-Matic video cassette system. What? Never hear of that? It's because it never found it's market as a home medium because it was too cumbersome and expensive. It went on to become the standard for industrial videos.

In the early 1980's, Beta and VHS were introduced as home video formats, with VHS taking a rapid lead. Even then, it appears mostly to time shifting TV shows, since the separate cameras and recorders with interconnecting wires and short battery life made portable video a chore.

By the mid eighties, camcorders had come to market, combining the camera and recorder in one compact unit (for it's day). Still rather large for most people to cart on vacation, entrepreneurs, myself included, quickly discovered a commercial use for the devices – filming weddings and corporate events.

In 1985 I opened my first video production business in Connecticut and within two years I quit my full time job in the computer engineering business and went full time into video. Back then, if you showed up on time, could hold the camera steady and keep it in focus, you could make a steady income in the video business. Camcorders were still rather expensive, and properly editing videos required equipment and talent beyond the realm of the average person.

By 1990, cameras became smaller, easier to use, and less expensive. Computer based non-linear editing was still the realm of the broadcast world, but more affordable tape based editing systems allowed event videographers to hone their finished products. No longer could simple basic skills keep you in business, you had compete with new video businesses in your market and polish your skills as an editor. Still, as the analog tape-to-tape duplicating process used for editing clipped away the undesirable footage, it caused an unavoidable loss of image clarity.

Digital video camcorders hit the consumer market in 1995. This allowed much clearer looking videos, and editing digital tape to tape avoided the loss of image quality associated with analog video editing. VHS was still the mainstay for the finished product, but now that product had the sharpness of a first generation VHS tape, and not a ragged edged copy as in the past. Computer based editing was still expensive, but was beginning to make it's way to the mainstream event video producers.

By the year 2000, cheaper, faster and less expensive computers had hard drives large enough to store feature length videos at reasonable cost. Non linear editing became the choice of nearly every video business. Clients were expecting far more from their finished product, and DVD was becoming the preferred medium for delivery of the final video. Even though videos were not yet high definition, the DVD made video look much better than VHS. More and more new event video companies were popping up as the prices of camcorders and computers continued to fall while their quality and ease of use went up. 2000 was a pinnacle year for wedding videos, as brides lined up in droves to have their weddings at the turn of the century.

By 2005, the camcorder had become so small, so easy to use, and high definition video produced such a great result it seemed that event video people were on every street corner. Anyone with two thousand dollars could start a video business and produce quality results, at least from the technical perspective. The real competition was beginning to come not only from other video businesses, but from former clients as well. Instead of continuing to pay a professional one to two thousand dollars to record their wedding video, some clients were buying their own camcorders for five hundred dollars and letting a friend or relative shoot the video.

Small, pocket sized high definition camcorders, high definition video in camera phones and free editing software on cheap, off-the-shelf PCs have diminished the client's perceived value of the professional video by 2012. The expectation of clients is that that video professional must Be able to replicate what the client sees in the movie theater or on television. Trouble is, studios still spend hundreds of thousands or more on lighting, sound and talent. Now matter how good home equipment is, or how polished the skills of a professional event videographer, a client's stingy three hundred dollar budget is not going to buy the results that clients see on TV. Not willing to pay thousands, many clients are satisfied with You-Tube style video clips taken with the camera phones of their friends – provided it's free. And a professional can not compete with free and stay in business.

Today, as a result of the amazing small, inexpensive and high quality camcorders and free editing software, the video business is far more challenging for the event professional. There is still something a professional can offer that all your friend's camera phones can never match. That is a video that truly tells your story or deliveries your corporate message as it should be, with the look and finish close to that of an independent film. In the end, it is the knowledge and experience that are worth the cost. You can not buy that with an iPhone in the hands of a close friend.

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