Millions of consumers a week buy mobile phones with digital video cameras, and several Web sites are now providing them with free online editing tools, nurturing a new generation of filmmakers.
Camcorder phones are eclipsing sales of dedicated high-quality camcorders. Over 348 million mobile phones sold in 2006 had a built-in camcorder and in 2007 that number is seen at 490 million, according to market research group Strategy Analytics.
Moreover, phone manufacturers have put a video camera in the hands of an age group which previously did not buy camcorders: the young and childless.
The effect can be seen on YouTube, where more than 65,000 videos are uploaded every day, most of them featuring 20-somethings rather than toddlers.
A lot of the video is raw, edgy, badly lit and, considering the more than 100 million daily views, that’s just how the viewers want it.
“It goes straight to the point, telling a story. And in a way that is more comic than dramatic,” said Nicolas Charbonnier, a 24-year-old Danish video-blogger.
Many of the new video creators are entering the video blogging world without any investment, as their phone comes equipped with a camcorder and they can find the basic editing tools for free on Web sites such as Jumpcut.com and Eyespot.com.
Free online editing software was born out of frustration with pricey packaged software.
“The reason we started was that we had DV (digital video) phones and DV cameras and were trying to edit video, but it was really hard. Packaged software is like a freaking space shuttle, it’s so difficult to use,” said Eyespot co-founder David Dudas.
The quality of video from mobile phones is still poor, and the functions of online editing tools are basic, but this is expected to improve dramatically in coming years.
The software on the nine-month old Eyespot Web site, for instance, will be upgraded many times this year. This is possible because it is all offered online.
In any case, the old rules do not apply in the Internet age.
“Editing is becoming less important. If people find a section of a video too slow, viewers can simply fast forward,” says Charbonnier, who regularly shoots hours of video at technology trade shows and uploads it unedited to Google Video.
Eyespot alone expects to have 5 million monthly users of its online editing software by the end of March, Dudas said.
The popularity of video editing has boosted the number of hopefuls looking to turn their hobby into a day job.
“The number of self-taught video editors is rising rapidly. We’re getting many more applicants for vacancies,” said Hans van Haagen, the video editor of news and documentaries at Dutch public television broadcaster NOS.
Video editing is fast becoming a basic necessity. All NOS TV reporters will have to master the skill themselves, just like writers must type their own stories and executives need to send their own e-mails.
“Cutting a news item is something you can learn. There’s not too much to it,” Van Haagen said.
That may sound like bad news for the profession, but in fact many more people will have an opportunity to make a living by creating film and videos.
Television operators around the world need to fill hundreds of niche channels and they will be mixed together with online video sites, creating more job possibilities.
“2006 was the year when you saw kids lip-syncing songs, but 2007 will be the year when you begin to see a lot more people start to make money with Internet video, all the frustrated artists who cannot get into the industry today,” Dudas said.
Revver.com is already splitting the advertising revenues attached to clips.
As one film director, Joel M., said at the DVGuru blog: “I didn’t go to film school. I practiced, I made hundreds of little movies and I watched thousands of films. And I work as a director. I think of my experience as the norm in the future rather than the exception.”
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