Videos are Verbs

I just got our first “real” video camera yesterday–a lower-end prosumer model Handycam from Sony. And I had to tell myself this morning after hours of frustration: “Think about all the things you do fairly well now, and without a lot of heavy thinking. Every one of those things, at one time, you did very slowly and with remarkable clumsiness.”

I’ve uploaded two 3 minute fumbling clips (the second one of them below) in which it is obvious I don’t know what I’m doing, and every mistake is something learned. So fumbling is okay at this early point.

But what I already sense is that still photography is about nouns. Video is about verbs. There is a place for both, so I’m happy to have the chance to learn a new part of speech at this late hour.

That every second can be a separate composition that relates to the ones that come before and after–that’s a tall order for the visual brain. Thinking in three dimensions and also in time–those are also elements to hold in one’s mind. But this comes only after learning how to hold the tiny camera in one’s hands. I’m not even there yet.

And once I’ve mastered the mechanics of taking clips and getting them identified and filed, the hard part–the creative part–comes in. That step is far down the road for me–the part where you merge and mold to tell the story, with music, with overlay narration, with screen text, with a creative eye for the whole of the thing.

I may never reach that point. But I’ll amuse myself trying. (I’m sorry the YouTube version is such an inferior copy of the same files on my 23″ Mac monitor!) And I’ll see and say the world differently with this new part of speech in my storyteller’s vocabulary.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. YOU DID IT!!! I’m so proud!!!! And this is just the beginning! It will be a whole new world to discover and film. You see beauty in things and places we all miss until you point than say I’m proud is a big understatement!!!

  2. Love the audio, Fred. I watched while listening with headphones and the audio moves from ear to ear as you walk throughout. Though probably unintentional it is a great effect. I think you’re right about video being a verb. May you learn more verbs to share with us all!

  3. I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein here since I encouraged you to take this step.

    Interesting that you start the short clip out with the statement of “limiting myself to about a minute and a half” and then have twice that. That’s what happens. Next step: Editing 101.

    Good start. Welcome to the fray.

  4. Yikes! The frames go by so quickly, and even so, I need to make myself slow down, dwell, take a breath–but get more into the clip in less time. Editing. Heck. I knew this was too easy for there not to be a “work” part to it. But then, there is for anything worth the effort. I’m working my way up the iMovie learning curve, just one single day along that road.

  5. Great beginning. You got your beautiful spider web, but I wish you had lingered a couple seconds longer on it. Same with the close-up of a wildflower. Just a couple more seconds would do, I think. I approved of the amlount of time you lingered on the sunburst through the trees.
    The bird sounds and water sounds were so appreciated by this city girl. As we say: “Thanks for sharing!”

  6. Kathy—for sure, I need to slow down. Thinking in advance about what are the “dwelling places” in a scene is a skill I hope to develop, and when and how much and how fast to change focus, and on and on. The post-processing file editing, storage and retrieval are the greatest challenges, even for what I imagine will be 2-3 minute finished videos. I envision plugging short video clips into the “visual essay” kind of things I’ve done in the past, and hope to accumulate a portfolio of things like the dragonflies, wildflowers and shafts of light, to weave into a visual tapestry–with bird sounds and creek sounds.

  7. It’s nice to see you having some fun, even if I can’t watch your videos. Don’t be offended if I suggest you are simply joining the herd of something for everyone. You quote Thoreau about written words. You mention your visual essays and maybe you’ll add some video? That’s seems to be a very common mashup.

    With a little more practice you can be just like a billion other folks.

    I still prefer reading and still photos (carefully selected) as an alternative experience to TV.

    A new hobby won’t hurt you though. Have fun.