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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
Use A Freakin' Tripod!
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Scott & Steve McCoy -- old family footage
Scott McCoy
Scott & Steve McCoy -- old family footage
By Scott McCoy
Jan. 24, 2013 12:35 p.m.



I'm a video guy.  I love taking video, editing, and creating a unique experience for an audience.  I've  liked film and video ever since I was a kid.

My parents introduced us kids to film when we were very young.  We had an 8mm film camera, with no audio.  Most of my friends who are my age aren't lucky enough to have such film from when they were young children.  I have movies of me learning to ride a bike, flying a kite, and playing outside in the plastic kiddie swimming pool with my siblings.

When I was around ten years old, my parents purchased a beta video camera.  It took color video and included audio!  I immediately took to this new piece of technology.  It was big, heavy, and took a battery about the size and weight of a brick.  And at the time, I had never seen anything so cool in my life.

I began shooting video of everything – the front yard, our dog, and even myself in the mirror.  Much like how kids today are glued to their cellular phones, I wanted to take our beta camera with me everywhere.

One of the things I enjoyed most was learning new techniques on how to use the video camera.  I taught myself lighting effects, special camera angles, and how to create stop-motion animation.  It was so much fun.

Eventually, we moved into a VHS camcorder, which would allow us to actually play-back the video on the camera.  And whenever I had the chance, I'd video something.

For Christmas this year, I decided to dub all of our old video tapes to DVDs.  I'd then create a DVD set for my father, brother, and sister of all of our old video from years past.  I collected nearly a hundred beta and VHS video tapes from my father.  I spent a couple months bidding on beta players on eBay, so I could play these old tapes from my childhood.  Then, I spent about half a year dubbing the video to digital format, editing, cleaning it up, fixing the audio, and arranging the video into a complete DVD set containing nearly two dozen re-mastered DVDs with around 20 hours of footage.

We now each have a digital copy of all of our childhood film and video.  Some of this video has never been seen before.  It was recorded, the tape was not marked (big surprise), and put on the shelf to collect dust for the past 30 years.

I found video that none of us remember taking.  I found video of people we haven't seen in years, and some of people we've lost.  To see my mother on video, giving me a big hug when she was the age I am now, is simply amazing.  And, it's a treasure.

But when I went through hour after hour of video, there is one thing I learned...

Everyone should buy a tripod and USE IT!

Watching our old video tapes, we actually did it correctly most of the time.  Since the cameras back then were so heavy and large, holding it on your shoulder wasn't very comfortable.  My father, who was a pretty smart guy back then, also purchased a tripod.  We used it much of the time.  But when we didn't use the tripod, it's all you can do to try to not get sick.  All the shaking and fast, jerky movements make it hard to watch.

A tripod is a cheap investment.  They are compact, light, and easy to setup.  Yet, most people today don't use them.  Just look around at the next basketball game or school concert.  Dozens upon dozens of camcorders will be recording the event from every angle – and I bet you don't see many (if any) tripods!

I realize a tripod doesn't fit every occasion when you want to take some video, but when you can use a tripod, you should.

So do your audience a favor (which will probably be your kids, grandchildren, and future family), and create memories they can watch and cherish for years to come... and that won't require airsick bags!

For goodness sake, use a freakin' tripod!

Scott McCoy

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