SHOOTING moving pictures of yourself used to involve lacing up your camera in the dark and then sending your undeveloped footage to Kodak in a little yellow envelope. Today you can broadcast it to the world in less than the time it took to walk to the post office.
The latest camcorders not only save your shots to an SD data card for instant retrieval, but can also transmit them to YouTube and the world without the need even to connect a computer. You can then do a rudimentary edit of your shots on YouTube itself, so your audience sees only the good bits.
All the big makers – Sony, Canon, JVC and Samsung – now make wi-fi models which connect to any available network and send photos and high-definition videos direct to the internet. Prices start from just over £200, which is less than half what you’d have paid for even the most basic model just a few years ago.
But these are sophisticated pieces of electronics, and demand being treated with respect. You wouldn’t want to take one on a seaside rollercoaster, for instance, for fear of dropping it over the side – yet as any TV director will tell you (including me, in a former life), that’s exactly how you get the best shots.
That’s where Ion’s Air Pro camcorder comes in. Its innards are no less sophisticated, but it’s encased in a shell the size of a torch and comes with a range of brackets that clamp to your child’s skateboard, or your helmet as you bungee jump off a bridge. The action is captured in high definition, there’s a built-in G-sensor to keep the picture upright, and the extra-wide lens gives you a 170-degree field of vision. Suddenly, video photography is exciting again.
The Air Pro’s other innovation is tablet compatibility, which lets you preview what you’re about to shoot, wirelessly, on a phone or iPad. This is how Hollywood directors work, albeit on a somewhat bigger scale.
Editing can be done on a PC if you’re at home, or online. As well as YouTube’s editing module, sites like videotoolbox.com and wevideo.com provide enough in the way of features to transform your raw footage into a finished movie that anyone can see – all within a few minutes of finishing shooting.
At £300 including all the brackets and options, the Air Pro isn’t cheap, but as Sony and others have demonstrated, camcorder prices do fall over time. See if you can hang on to your bungee rope until then.