VideoPreservation Website

ncptt cool bavc
Formats ID Homepage | Formats from 1956-70 | Formats from 1970-85 | Formats from 1985-95
Library Home | The Video Guide
subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link

The Video Guide


Chapter 1

Exploring The Video Universe

From Caves to CRT's

Humanity, fascinated by its ability to render and preserve images of life, at first fashioned spectacular visuals on cold cave walls. As emerging civilizations coalesced in misty green jungles and hard sprawling deserts, they told their tales of gods, conquests and daily ritual on massive stone pyramids and sacred temples. Exquisite frozen views of human life in ancient and later societies appeared almost alive on valued articles of wood, gold, silver, bronze, copper, clay and bone. Humanity's images next emerged colorfully and effusively from the ubiquitous medium of paper and later became electronically honed into patterned blobs of pure energy and wavelengths which fly through the intricate workings of solid state circuitry and are displayed on the familiar television set or CATHODE RAY TUBE (CRT).

We have transformed our image making tools from stone and charcoal to light and energy. We have emerged from the darkness of prehistoric caves to harness light and energy on a technological level, although not yet commonly on a metaphysical level. By moving energy through air, wires and circuits, we can communicate abstract thoughts across a planet and strongly influence whole societies. Television can cause millions of individuals to laugh or cry and to believe or disbelieve. It's only a question of how one uses the image-making tools.

And just how are these image-making tools used? The majority of the people in the United States and the Western World in general have had most of their knowledge of life and society delivered to their minds by the great god TELEVISION. A whole generation has now been weaned on the Big Boob Tube in the Sky, and many lives consciously or unconsciously revolve around the one-eyed media god that sits piously on its sacred altar in the living room temple.



Visual and sound images can define to a great extent how we perceive our world, our fellow humans, other living creatures and our environment; the medium of television is having an enormously powerful effect on our own personal visions of life. Sadly, TV programmers relentlessly seek out violence, contention and sensationalism to be used as the basic content of most programming. If audiences willingly and continually absorb this kind of information, their personal view of life inevitably will become one pervaded with violence, contention and sensationalism. As we think, so will we act.

The TV Potential

TV technology provides us with a daily satellite view of our small blue and white planet from thousands of miles in space. Television takes us nearly anywhere in our world or to another world LIVE in seconds. It has begun to make us aware of the possibility of one day perceiving our planet as an interdependent community where we are all really parts of the same whole.

Television has given us a near total faith in technology, that technology can do anything and everything. However, with that faith now severely shaken for many persons, television could begin to seek out, study, and show real and possible solutions to pressing world problems. Programmers could turn their cameras toward positive, constructive and hopeful events and endeavors. Inevitably, the minds of those who watch such programming would begin to view life in a more positive light.

We could create a TV program called "Alternatives for Earth," which would take us each week to individuals as well as groups who have developed creative and beneficial projects, life styles, energy systems, devices and attitudes, from which the nation and the world could benefit. Imagine a live two-way New Year's Day satellite special where China, Russia, France, Viet Nam, Angola, Canada, and the USA would share methods of energy conservation or national health care systems. Technologically, it's possible right now.

Few people doubt the severity of the problems facing our civilization. Most of these problems are due to ignorance and lack of communication between people and nations. Television has truly made us a global community in the physical sense by interconnecting even the most remote villages by means of communication satellites. Our next evolutionary step must be the human interconnection when physical differences and boundaries become unimportant, and individuals of all nations become harmonious citizens of one globe—the planet Earth!



The Television Conspiracy

Consider this scenario. if one person, a group of persons or a government really wanted to control a society without violence or armed force, how could they do it? The conspiring groups might neutralize people's minds and bodies by drugging them into a constant lethargic and complacent state of mind so they would have no time to think about what was happening to them!

It's easy. First, convince people they must work at least 8 hours a day, come home, and feed and entertain a family. Next, seduce the tired family mentally. Allow them to sit down, drink a beer and watch television. Make sure there are no programs shown that cause anyone to think! Soon it's 10 p.m. and time to sleep. Meanwhile, the masses have offered absolutely no mental resistance to all those "you need a new car, a motor home, a big suburban house" ads. They will begin to believe that their own personal happiness is entirely dependent on all those horrible chemical food and drug products that the tube beseeches them nightly to purchase. Soon, everyone's convinced that the suburban house and the new car and all the other things they see on the tube are the reason why they are all going to work at 8 a.m. again tomorrow morning, and the morning after, and the morning after, and the morning after...

An individual who can't think isn't very dangerous and won't be tempted to upset the American Apple Pie Cart. Is this really American Television? Has 1984 been here all the time but in disguise?

Resisting the Tube

Until Broadcast Television begins to demonstrate a "higher consciousness," we can take positive steps to minimize personal psychic damage. An excellent antidote that I've discovered is to pack away my TV set for 6 weeks or longer, making it impossible to watch anything on television. After the initial withdrawal symptoms subside, you slowly become aware of the wilderness areas of your mind—a truly startling phenomenon indeed for most people! Then, suddenly you have all this free time that may even tempt you to begin reading again or taking Yoga lessons. Amazing! You soon wonder how you found time to watch TV at all. But more important, you begin to think and be creative again. Try it, you'll like it!

The Greatness of Television

Undeniably, Broadcast Television has produced moments of triumph. Excellent special programs have been created dealing with national water-quality problems, the Washington bureaucracies, the IRS, the dangers of nuclear power, criminal conspiracies and other important subjects. Great cultural and historical events have been broadcast and television has served as a forum for discussion of important political issues. Superbly entertaining and enlightening dramas such as Roots or The Adams Chronicles, when presented on television, have performed a valuable service to society.

During a major world event such as a moon landing, we witness the potential of the only medium which can command the eyes of the billions of our fellow planetary inhabitants in just minutes! Occasionally, the medium of television really does bring us all together.



BROADCAST TV—The Inheritance

NBC-ABC-CBS gave us all our start. They set the standards for the technical aspects of TV production. Let's call it slickness, a term which describes the fast-paced, perfectly-edited visual and audio components of the traditional TV program. We may or may not include program content, in our concept of slickness. Individuals who turn to other forms of TV often do so in hopes of finding something beyond this characteristic Hollywood and New York slickness.

Individuals who do try to emulate this typical Hollywood technical style soon discover that it is hard to duplicate with a single small Sony VIDEO (television equipment) system. So, video producers with limited technical equipment and funds must try to have strong content and creativity in their programs to compensate for the technical limitations of their equipment.

Another comparison would be to liken the TV networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) to NASA with all its space capsules, simulators, computers, rocket ships, brilliant technicians, and so on, while the enthusiastic individual producer has only his home-made 3-foot rocket. The two just are not in the same technical category.

Nevertheless, under ideal conditions, a well-tuned late-model portable video unit can produce a good visual product capable of being transferred to television broadcasting equipment, and the average home TV viewer will not notice the difference. In spite of the many complex technical factors to be considered, this type of individual programming is being done regularly, especially by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

We all know what Broadcast TV brings to the screen. The technology behind the scenes includes massive VIDEOTAPE RECORDERS (VTRs) costing $160,000 each and equal in size to two refrigerators! Millions of dollars are invested in peripheral equipment that inputs or outputs to the VTRs. These extremely sophisticated machines are manned by equally sophisticated teams of technicians who precisely tune and monitor a myriad of electronic vital signs that constantly flow from within the equipment's electronic innards. The control center in a big TV network broadcasting studio is really dazzling, and the images that appear on the studio TV screens are so real, colorful and vivid, that it is actually shocking to persons who have seen nothing but their own TV sets.

Only television broadcasters can afford the really big video equipment, but that great expense is also their big limitation. They are bound by unions, omnipresent commercial considerations, huge bureaucracies, and they are the psychological victims of Neilsen ratings, prospective sponsors and intra-industry competition.

The TV networks have little freedom to move. They can't try radically new programming concepts, because who will buy them? They can't experiment with space and time because it's impossible to fit an 8-minute or 65-minute program into the traditional format. They can't use the kids on the block as actors, because the children can't act very well; and besides, they are nonunion.




SUB-NETWORKS are composed of several   learning "how to tune a carburetor" by video-

individuals or groups, sometimes separated geo-   tape, students of Transcendental Meditation

graphically, who watch a common type of special-   viewing a video lecture on "The Science of Crea-

ized live or videotaped TV programming. Usually   tive Intelligence," and citizens of a remote village

the programming is of a noncommercial, non-   in Canada or Alaska taking adult education classes

broadcast nature. Examples are nurses in a hospi-   on TV which are beamed in by satellite from a

tal watching "patient care" tapes, Datsun workers   distant source of origination.

Education by TV

The potential for education by TV is unlimited. Advantages of using television for training are:

  1. The world's best expert(s) can be secured to talk about the subject.

  2. The expert's presentation can be rehearsed until perfect and then taped, eliminating human error.

  3. The expert is always available on the tape—permanently, 24 hours a day. The tape never gets tired or makes mistakes.

  4. Many copies of the program can be made.

  5. The program can be shot on location anywhere in the world if the budget permits. The world becomes the classroom.

  6. A taped program can be reused many times.

  7. Films, slides, graphics and outside videotaped material can be integrated into the program, providing a flexibility not possible in the live classroom situation.

  8. The program can be edited and time, space and distance manipulated to create the best effect.

  9. The program can be made available on easy-to-use standardized videocassette formats which can be displayed on ordinary TV sets.

  10. Videocassettes can be played for large groups through a video projector or played privately by one person on a small portable TV set.

  11. The program can he repeated many times, stopped or advanced forward for the individual student's needs.

  12. The overall cost of videocassette learning tapes is usually very cost-efficient, especially if produced on a large scale.

NOTE: There are many kinds of learning experiences that are NOT well suited to videotape presentations. It may be less expensive, simpler and more effective to use audiotape recordings, slide or filmstrip presentations or good printed materials to express a concept through media.

One of the finest examples of general Educa-

tional TV media is Jacob Bronowski's "Ascent of   That's what can be done with millions of dollars

Man" series, produced by the B ritish B roadcasting   and highly-skilled technical personnel. On a much

Corporation (BBC) and shown on American PBS.   lesser scale, but often equally effective, are all the

Of course, that series had a considerable budget,   educational-institutional training and informa-

but all components of the show were strong. The   tional videotapes made by individuals and groups

script, Bronowski's presentation, the visual docu-   every year for a myriad of purposes—i.e., tapes for

mentation, sight and sound effects and continuity   firemen, policemen, students, insurance salesper-

of content were all superbly thought out and exe-   sons, Army, Navy, government, accountants, law-

cuted with a high degree of professional excel-   yers, psychologists, masseuses, welders, doctors,

lence.   realtors, dentists, and so on. The list is endless.



It's this middle range educational/institutional category that can afford the comparatively lowto-moderate-cost television equipment. Instead of spending millions of dollars like the TV broadcasters, the high school, hospital or insurance company can spend from $2,000 to $5,000 for playback-only equipment; from $5,000 to $30,000 for a black-and-white production studio;and from $10,000 to $80,000 for a color-production studio.

A typical industrial video system design will locate the main TV production studio in the home office and have playback-only equipment at branch offices. Large colleges and universities may invest $300,000 to $1,000,000 or more in elaborate color studios where complex educational tapes can be made and played directly into classrooms throughout the campus.


The educational/industrial sector purchases most of the non broadcast video equipment manufactured by Sony, Panasonic and JVC (Japanese Victor Corporation). This equipment includes portable video systems, editing VTRs, and videocassette units. An entire electronic industry grossing hundreds of millions of dollars annually, thrives on servicing and selling all kinds of television equipment to this market.

There is another interesting comparison of Japanese and American technology in examining this particular electronic marketplace. Whereas American technicians originally invented and developed the process of videotape recording in 1953, it took the Japanese to refine it and manufacture a system sufficiently sophisticated, dependable and economically viable to appeal to the broad popular educational/industrial marketplace.

American manufacturers have tried several times to duplicate the low-cost Japanese video products but have been consistently unsuccessful. Failures include the AVCO CARTRIVISION and the CBS EVR (Electronic Video Recording) systems. Instead, American manufacturers have had to confine themselves to the large supersophisticated high-cost VTRs used in the broadcast master-production studios where American Technology is still king.

But on the streets, where the action is, the Japanese reign virtually unchallenged. They also are making substantial inroads into other areas

of broadcasting, primarily due to the rapid improvement of the VIDEOCASSETTE (self-contained videotape) format. By 1975, Japanese videocassette systems were in regular use by all TV broadcasting network companies for in-thefield news, program editing, and over-the-air broadcasting.


Initially, a great gap existed between the so-called SMALL-FORMAT Japanese video equipment with its 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch, 3/4-inch and 1-inch videotape widths and the big-time network broadcaster's LARGE-FORMAT 2-inch tape width machines. Although the difference in tape width means that the formats are not physically interchangeable, the real division has more to do with the quality, or lack of quality, of the electronic signals put out by the videotape recorder. Histor-

ically, the 2-inch tape width has always been the broadcast videotape format and 1-inch, 3/4-inch, 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch widths have been the non-broadcast videotape formats. Intermixing of the 2-inch width and any other format was virtually nonexistent prior to 1975.



The video situation could be likened to the distinction between the super-8 format independent producer/filmmaker and the 35 mm format-feature movie industry. Although both entities make films, the two formats and associated personnel are very isolated from each other and intermix only on extremely rare occasions.

The same kind of split and isolation is inherent in television also and will always exist between the big network TV factories and the small independent video producers. Although there are usually profound philosophical differences between the two entities, the technical capabilities of the large-format and small-format equipment now has become substantially blurred. The large 2-inch tape video equipment used by the studios has not come down in price so independents could afford it. Instead, two very important technological events took place in 1974 and 1975 that changed forever the hardware relationship of independents and broadcasters.

The Breakthroughs

The two most important breakthroughs in recent video technology were:

1. The development of the TIME BASE CORRECTOR—an American analog/digital computer processing device, about the size of a portable electric typewriter, that rebuilds and fixes up the abnormalities and errors in the electronic signal of low-cost, small-format videotape recorders.

2. The development of the second generation, highly improved 3/4-inch videocassette recording, editing and portable machines by Sony Corporation and later by JVC (Japanese Victor Corporation).

The net result of these two revolutionary technical breakthroughs, one American and one Japanese, has been to technically throw open the doors of TV broadcasting to anyone who can afford to rent, buy, borrow or barter good basic small-format video equipment. This means the technical argument of "no, you can't play your portapak stuff over our broadcast system because it's not stable enough" is no longer valid.

A Word of Caution—"It's not all that easy!"

Even though it's possible on a technical level to play small format tapes on Broadcast TV, this doesn't mean the process is a simple one. The usual bureaucracies have to be dealt with; possible union problems settled; your original tapes must be excellent technically, so they will work with the Time Base Corrector, and the program's content must be of interest to the TV station's audience. You also may need to edit your tapes on the studio's 2-inch video equipment. All this will cost someone time and money. If your project is good enough, the TV station may be willing to provide free editing time and technical personnel.

Fortunately, as lower cost video technology improves, the equipment distinctions between the broadcasting networks and the independent producer tend to blur. This creates increasing opportunities for broadcast TV to decentralize, to become more flexible and varied, and hopefully to allow more alternative programming to flow through the broadcast and nonbroadcast programming systems.



CABLE TV—A Mixed Blessing

Back in the early seventies, when large conglomerates like Teleprompter Inc. were purchasing all the small local Cable TV companies they could find, many wild claims were being made. "30 channels in every home! Special access channels for the public, schools, government and industry! The housewife can do all her shopping from her TV set at home! Computer terminals, 2-way medical care, electronic newspapers, first-run movies—all possible with Cable TV!"

No doubt about it, all this is absolutely possible today. But unfortunately, few people worked out the economic realities of all the blue-sky thinking. Then the Second Great American Depression set in and quashed the hopes of many an eager citizen group and visionary Cable TV operator as well.

Is Cable TV Dead?

Hardly. The big conglomerates quickly revised some of their goals, tried to lower the viewer's public-service expectations of them, closed many local program production studios, and quietly retrenched themselves into selling more subscriptions (home cable hookups) and getting Pay TV off the ground and into a satellite TV program distribution system.

Cable TV works by bringing in distant TV stations by means of master antennas and channeling a large number of broadcast stations into the single coaxial cable that leads to the home. Upwards of 30 different channels can be squeezed into the present cable and as many as 80 to 100 channels through the use of optical fibers or lasers. But, "who needs 80 TV channels," you might ask, or, "the 12 I have now are garbage, and my kids' minds are being ruined! Adding 50 more channels is like flushing the toilet while the septic tank overflows!"

Well, that thought did occur to the industry rather vividly, and they sensed that they would have to offer something unique, of high technical quality and not available on any of the conventional networks if the public were to subscribe to and pay for these additional channels.



"Pay-As-You-Go"—Pay TV

The CABLE TV (CTV) industry soon wired up as many homes as possible and began to move into major cities, where the competition was fierce for antenna-received TV stations. Most cable companies added at least one PAY TV channel where (for a $5 to $12 per-month extra fee plus a $25 deposit) you could get popular movies, sports highlights and other special entertainment on your TV set without commercials. This worried both the TV broadcasters and consumer groups who feared that eventually all of the best programming would be siphoned off by Pay TV and become so expensive that only those willing to spend $18 to S25 per month could enjoy the top TV programs.

The latest development in Pay TV now finds several satellites in orbit transmitting movies and other programming from one or more central sources to relatively inexpensive earth receiving stations owned by your local conglomerate Cable TV company. The CTV Station then transmits the signals through your cable system on the Pay

TV channels to your home. Since only a few large companies own most of the Cable TV systems in the country, the satellite Pay TV network is large and certainly ranks next in size to the traditional Broadcast TV network.

The disadvantage of the satellite system is the loss of local control over Pay TV programming. Communities cannot determine what kinds of programming would best fit their needs. Up to now, however, there has never been any control over Pay TV because the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has never drawn up any regulations for this kind of programming. The advantages and potential of this system lie in the facts that it does not have to show commercials (Hallelujah!), and it is not yet bogged down by unions, traditional TV station bureaucracies and rigid format policies. Pay TV definitely represents an opportunity for independent and educational/ industrial producers to market their programs to a national audience and get paid for it. So check it out. See Cable TV Appendix.



2-Way Cable TV

In spite of the discouraging economics of the times, several communities and groups have plunged ahead with experimental 2-way Cable TV concepts. One successful system has been operating in the City of Irvine, California, since 1975. Called Irvine Interactive Video: a series of 2-way video and audio terminals have been established at 14 key locations in the local community. Sites include nearly all the public schools, the library, City Hall and the University of California's Irvine Campus. Professors and students hold regular 2-way classes and conferences 5 days a week and the City Council has conducted 2-way discussions with citizen's groups located at the schools.

Since 95% of Irvine residents subscribe to the cable system, the video and audio dialog is fed into the cable system so residents can view what's happening in their schools and government chambers.

Each terminal functions with only $1,800 worth of video equipment and is manned primarily by 10-year-old students. A system such as this could do much toward bringing a community together, consolidating community services, making government more responsible to the public, and reducing expensive transportation.

What Ever Happened to Public Access?

During the Days of Great Expectations of Cable TV (1969-1973), one claim really struck a responsive cord with many public-spirited citizens. The Cable TV companies touted a PUBLIC ACCESS CHANNEL where any citizen or local group could get a small amount of free TV production time to communicate to his fellow citizens as long as some clothes were kept on and the program was in good taste. The Cable TV company would provide a free studio for the community's use, and the people in the community could now use television to really keep in touch with each other. Great idea—lots of potential! Local citizen's groups loved the idea, and media-interested people of all ages instantly formed PUBLIC ACCESS GROUPS like The Santa Cruz Community Cable TV Project and the Los Angeles Public Access Project to facilitate each community's use of local television programming. For a while it looked like a new age of human communication had dawned.

Then, for financial reasons the cable companies abruptly pulled the plug. Now many local groups had no distribution systems and no reason to exist. The FCC softened the Public Access Cable TV requirements and left the future of PA shrouded in doubt. Any Public Access activity now would have to be accomplished on a local level.

The next step found the Cable TV companies trying to bypass Public Access, which would only cost them money, and move directly into the big money of Pay TV. Most traditional firms are in business to make a profit and from this point of view, eliminating Public Access was a good business decision for the Cable TV companies. However, the public raised the issue that all media has a responsibility to serve the interests of citizens and the local community first, contending that certain services such as Public Access should be considered as an expense and part of the cost of doing business in the local community.



And so the battle continues to rage among local Public Access groups, city councils, Cable TV companies and the FCC. Public Access will work if a source of regular funding is set aside by the local Cable TV company and/or the city and county it serves. Sometimes, the Cable TV company will provide a free studio, equipment and offices, and the city or a funding agency will provide production salaries and operating budgets. Any kind of a successful arrangement usually requires much research and several years of political lobbying by a few very dedicated volunteer visionaries who have been willing to work long hours for several years to get it all started.

Someday in the great REAL TV HALL OF FAME, a monument should be erected to all the incredibly dedicated, hard working, underfed, underpaid and burned out video visionaries who have committed several years of their lives to the concept that COMMUNITY TV might be born and show the world the true human potential of television and video.


"The Media the Media Doesn't Know About."

The Video Universe includes people as well as equipment. After all, the hardware can do nothing without people to operate it. Computers may be able to run themselves, but cameras and videotape recorders will always require human minds and eyes to point them in the right direction and to make the decision of what and when to shoot. Interestingly, the word VIDEO derives from the latin verb videre, meaning "to see" or the act of seeing.

Broadcast TV, the BIG MOTHER of us all, has indeed produced a generation of enthusiastic video children, many possessing amazing personal imagination, vision and unflagging economic tenacity. As a natural evolution, the video children then invented ALTERNATIVE TV or VIDEO.

The term ALTERNATIVE TV means just that—a different form of seeing through television. Unfortunately, since the national networks do not yet show Alternative TV programs on a regular basis, the public knows nothing about the existence of such things. But talking about Alternative TV requires us to distinguish between TELEVISION and VIDEO.

There are both technical and philosophical differences implied by these terms. The word TELEVISION generally refers to the traditional Broadcast TV network structures—their programing, policies and big expensive equipment. They use the best and most sophisticated technology money can buy. The term VIDEO is philosophically used to describe the multitude of small low-budget independent video groups, public access groups, individual persons, producers and schools which don't have the large budgets of the broadcasters and so must utilize the low-cost black-andwhite video equipment, such as the legendary Sony or Panasonic PO RTAPA KS (small portable video systems) and an editor VTR or two.

The phenomenon of the low-cost TV equipment and its use to produce an alternative type of programming soon became known as VIDEO. Far too often budgets were so limited and the medium was so new, that the technical quality of programs suffered. However, strong and unusually relevant and intimate content often compensated for the technical deficiencies. Powerful social documentaries came to be a popular form of Video activity.

In strictly technical terms, the word VIDEO also refers to the actual electronic signal emitted by a camera or VTR. A long the way the word was borrowed from the technical vocabulary and later came to mean the large body of video equipment technology, especially the small-format gear. The term VIDEO has since been expanded to include the whole broad middle ground between ALTERNATIVE TV and Broadcast TV. This middle ground takes in educational/industrial and institutional uses of video and/or just about any use of television equipment that isn't intended primarily for network broadcast use. But Video still continues to represent the large body of non-broadcast media enthusiasts—not limited to video freaks only—who do not want to call what they do with their cameras and VTRs TELEVISION. Thus, the term Video includes television equipment, and certain kinds of equipment uses but also refers to a certain body of people who use the equipment in a particular way.




Soon after Sony introduced the first portapaks in 1969, a number of people immediately recognized the strong potential for social change inherent in the use of portable TV equipment. Early video experiments took many forms and were assigned labels such as personal feedback, video interaction, turning the media in on itself, video triads, etc. For the exhibitionist, Video was a dream come true. For the social documentarian, Video could record endless hours of conversations with the man on the street, and psychoanalysts could record their 48-hour marathon therapy


For the budding serious media producer, the small video system provided an opportunity to try camera angles, screen test talent (actors and actresses) and produce a rough first production involving parents, girlfriends, dogs, cats and lizards and whatever else happened to crawl, walk, slither or shuffle by during a taping session.

The Video Bug bit a lot of people and this was only the beginning. When folks began to see themselves on TV, the same place that The President appeared, along with all the other great idols of the American-Hero-Dream-Machine, nerves deep in their subconscious minds began to come alive and twitch with excitement. Individuals joined together and formed video groups, some of which secured grants from federal, state and local entities while others simply invested their own money in portapaks to see and do for themselves what Video was all about.

Just what was or is Video? Some would say it's the immediacy of the image, the instant playback and the stark-naked stripped-to-the-bone reality of life as it is really seen or happens. Others would call it an electronic mirror that could enable an individual or a society to become more aware of itself and come to terms with its inner being.

So far, though, the promise of video remains largely unrealized. But, there are more and more imaginative users who are finding ways to harness the great potential of the medium and make use of its unique communication and introspective abilities. Psychologists and others interested in the personal feedback nature of video are quietly but powerfully putting the medium to work in special explorative applications. For example, there are people in the San Francisco area who use it for helping persons to see themselves with objectivity and compassion. They use video in special workshops to help persons to acquire a sense of self appreciation and personal power. One of these video practitioners has stated that she feels that video and truth are two of the most powerful tools for healing and transformation that we have at this time.

One of the most important trends of the 80's will be NETWORKING, and video will play a strong role in the sharing of all kinds of specialized information. With the rapidly expanding availability of 1/2-inch videocassette recorders, we may reach a point soon where a video recorder is almost always accessible with a phone call or two. Special interest tapes will be created in great volume on every subject imaginable and circulated widely without ever touching the hands or the wires of the conventional broadcast entities. Video is on the verge of becoming a true people's media.


Because network broadcasting runs on specific and tight time structures, it must show only what might interest large masses of people. Since the broadcasters don't have time to go into depth on an issue, especially a controversial one, like the independent video or film producer who can devote his total energy to the subject, Broadcast TV generally finds itself limited to a slick and superficial treatment of a subject and thus it often becomes a slick superficial media.

"If you try to satisfy all of the people all of the time, you can't satisfy anyone very well."



On the other hand, much of the content of low-budget, nonbroadcast Video programs is strictly local in nature and concerned only with the immediate community or environment. Large national networks can't direct their shows to a specific community because it is not economically feasible to produce shows that only 50 to 1000 people will watch.

Video then is decentralization of media. It can become a very personal statement, reflecting ideas and events and communicating information for perhaps only a single city block of people. What we have here is a true medium for the people and for individual applications. It can serve

the small folks and the nation as well. And that's why it excites a lot of people and motivates them sufficiently to somehow get their hands on a portapak, or whatever, and make tapes!

And just how to relate to the machinery and make good tapes is what this book is all about. The Whole Video Universe represents an exciting creative adventure, and it can open your eyes to new ways of perceiving for yourself or communicating with others. This author intends merely to act as a medium through which you the reader may naturally and enjoyably allow the embrace of the Video Universe to slip around you.



spacervid pres logo
spacer ©2007 Timothy Vitale and Paul Messier