Making the Videosphere a Safer Place One Clumsy Cameraman At a Time

I confess that I was born with a golden camera in my paws. While my family eked its way into the middle-middle class, I had a well-to-do grandfather with a serious jones for anything related to photography. And he had enough money to be dangerous at it. Back in the '50s he owned a 16 mm Bolex pro camera, an editing bay, a Bell and Howell Sound projector, and all manner of experimental film equipment. He even had one of the first and only 3-D slide cameras. Trips to Willoughby's camera shop in New York were pilgrimages. Yeah, I am hard-wired with the gadget lust gene.

And for all of that, Grandpa didn't know how to take a single decent frame. We have hours of 16 mm footage of half faces, lightning fast pans across Venetian landscapes, and even a good half hour of tape of the back of a pew instead of my wedding.

And now that malady of video ineptitude has been writ large by the Flip cam and the easy upload. My grandfather has multiplied into millions. The downside of the video revolution is that more terrible footage by more clueless cameramen has been uploaded to more sites in the past few years than anyone has seen in the century before it.

Vimeo is trying to stem the tide of rampant amateurism with a new online and free training series. Vimeo Video School launches this week with a series of short lessons that actually are designed to teach. They include a tutorial in video form as well as images, links to more help and text walkthroughs. Each Lesson also has a challenge that gives viewers a chance to try the new skill in a basic way.

In good user-gen fashion, Vimeo is combining its own internally made Lessons with some of the best how-to videos from its own community of videographers both pro and am.

There is a basic Video 101 series that brings the user from choosing a camera to editing basics. But the videos also move into advanced areas like storyboarding and stop motion. Many of the tutorials are aimed at ambitious amateurs looking to move to pro-am levels of filmmaking. But many also are aimed at everyday photogs of my grandfather's ilk who have just enough technology to do some serious damage to photo aesthetics. The video on tripods is especially condescending.

It is too late for my dear departed grandfather, who left behind to his family miles of nausea-inducing roller coaster rides through decades of Christmases and birthdays that look like they were shot by Andy Warhol in the deep acid-eating phase. But there is still time for the rest of us. Vimeo's welcome gift this holiday is keeping people in the frame and settling that shaky camera down.

1 comment about "Making the Videosphere a Safer Place One Clumsy Cameraman At a Time".
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  1. Kimberley Blaine from The Go-To Mom.TV, December 17, 2010 at 3:56 p.m.

    Thanks Steve. Thanks cute about your grandfather.

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