JUNE 2011 IN

Cell Phone Video

Lately, I have been watching hours of weather videos, with the recent floods, tornados, and volcanic eruptions. The videos come from every kind of camera. There are broadcast news cameras, security cameras, and webcams. Most of the videos, though, come from cell phones.

Possibly most of the video cameras ever made are cell phones, but certainly most of the cameras that people happen to be carrying with them are cell phones. In my own life, though I own four cameras that can take video, most of the video I record is on my cell phone.

Cell phone video fills the niche of lesser-quality on-the-spot video formerly occupied by what was called home video (though this term is potentially confusing, as “home video” also meant a few other things). Some cell phone video is similar in quality to the VHS camcorder home video of the 1980s, but by now, most of it is about as sharp as the professional video of that era. It is still conspicuously less than this year’s professional video.

The important thing, though, is the sheer number of devices that can record video. Sometime this year, the number of iPhones alone passed the all-time total of VHS camcorders. Wherever you see a crowd of people, you have to assume that there is also the capability of recording video of anything noteworthy that happens. Most cell phone videos are short, less than two minutes long, but this is often long enough to show you what happened at an particular place and time.

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