Previously it was megapixels that marketing materials used to influence the less well informed into thinking one camera was better than another. Now it seems to me that the megapixel war is over, or has at least been forgotten for the moment. It’s HD video capability that is the latest feature used to market cameras and camera-equipped mobile phones.
Not that I’m denying that these HD video claims refer to valid, useful features. The point is that the marketing claims lead the less experienced buyer to assume they will be able to produce professional looking videos all by themselves, using just their shiny new camera. This is clearly not the case.
I don’t yet own an HD video capable camera nor have I any experience of making videos beyond quick, jerky clips grabbed with my non-HD compact camera or cell phone. But listening to podcasts like TWIP I have come to realise that just because we hear that some TV show episode was shot with an HD-capable digital SLR camera, we can’t make the assumption that they used just the camera. After listening to these podcasts I’ve come to realise that many accessories, often very expensive accessories are used as well. Professional quality external audio recording equipment, a variety of rigs to steady the camera or move it smoothly and devices to allow a focus puller to focus the camera are just some I have heard mentioned. Learning this has made me realise that just buying a new DSLR that shoots HD is not going to let me produce anything approaching decent videos; not without learning a lot about how movies are made and buying more equipment any way.
This was brought home to me on Monday when I came across a blog post highlighting Apple of My Eye, one of the first HD videos to be shot with the new iPhone 4. The movie is short and deceptively simple and the blog post says “Shot and edited entirely on the iPhone 4 / iMovie App (in 48 hours)”. This doesn’t mean that some guy just grabbed his phone and fired off a quick video though. At the end of the movie is additional footage showing how the movie was made. This makes if abundantly clear that without specific knowledge and extra equipment, you are not going to be producing quality video.
So, go ahead and buy yourself a new, HD capable camera; but realise that you will have to go through a steep learning curve, invest in buying or renting more equipment, and enlist the help of friends before you will be able to produce that hit movie you dream of.