Sunday, July 5, 2015
Adios, Ol' Paint
Well, old friend, seems like only yesterday when I walked into the Tech. Center and asked to see one of these nice, new video cameras no bigger than a pack of More Cigarettes (look 'em up, children.) Actually it was 2009 when I bought my Flip Video. The company discontinued manufacturing them in 2011. I tried to use mine last night for what turned out to be the last time. Seems my new computer "no longer supports this technology." Damn. That's six good years for me, and roughly five good years for the manufacturer who introduced the camera in 2006. Evidently, by the standard of current technology, I might as well have been shooting my little readings for this blog, etc. with an Edison Kinetographic Camera.
Seems tablets and phones killed these clever little cameras the same way digital cameras killed film. But, no, that's wrong as there are still enthusiasts for film. Don't know that anyone's shooting a feature film on a Flip. Come to that, I don't see myself attending any future conventions of Flip Video nostalgists.
I hung on longer than most. It worked for my purposes just fine, thank you very much. I never tried to use it to remake Citizen Kane or as a point-of-view for my fabulous sky-jumps. (Each of those supposedly possible things is just as likely from me as the other.) I set up my tripod, (bought the same day as the Flip,) turned on the camera and then I read at it until I was done. I then plugged the Flip into the port and loaded the "footage" into iMovies where I would edit it, add titles and then share on Youtube. Sometimes it took a long time or what seemed like a long time for the raw shots to load into the program, sometimes it took even longer for the finished readings to post to the Internet. Sometimes I made a complete hash of the readings and just as often of the editing, and sometimes, for whatever reason the technology got the better of me. Maybe I'd clicked on something I hadn't meant to. Maybe I'd forgotten to press the red record-button on the Flip and then spent an hour on what turned to be a rehearsal rather than a taping. It was all meant to be simple and it usually was, but not always.
What having this little white camera did for me was give me another voice, another way of doing whatever this is. I've always read aloud, and well before 2009, I'd even started doing the readings at the bookstore that made me want a camera to record them in the first place. Really though, it was having the chance to record short readings of poetry and prose, usually in my office, in my old armchair and make these public almost immediately that hooked me on my sweet new camera when I bought it six years ago. Posting those 557 readings to date has given me something like a mission, or rather another and better way to ride my hobbyhorse in a new direction. I wanted to prove that anyone, or nearly anyone might try reading something beautiful out loud, that if I could do it, and figure out how to post what I'd done, then anyone might give it a try, read something aloud, post it online. Most Americans don't read to each other anymore, except to our children. We ought not to lose the knack. We certainly will if we don't do it and are not seen to do it.
Reading aloud adds a richness to reading: it can clarify the meaning and teach something of the means by which great writing is made, and it can not only connect the reader to his or her listener, but also allow a new intimacy with the page, and by extension with the author -- and all without dressing up in period costume or collecting limited edition plates and the like. I know that I know Dickens better for having read his work aloud, as he did himself, as nearly every writer have done one way or another.
I sat down the other night thinking I'd record a dozen or so poems from Harvey Shapiro's anthology for the American Poets Project, Poets of World War II. The idea was to read something American, something of historical and well as literary interest, for the 4th. Also, with our dear friend, R. coming to visit for a week, I thought I'd program a few days posts in advance.
Then, my new computer told me it could not "support" my plan. I must tell you, I was genuinely crestfallen. It's far from the end of the world, of course and if anything both the quality and simplicity of what I can now do with the recording options on my phone will doubtlessly prove a blessing -- soon-ish. I just haven't done that yet. That is not the way I know.
Change is bad.
I must have told you all that before, surely?
Eventually, as I say, I will learn. I am a slow learner. (Took me weeks to master even the rudiments necessary to do our little podcast, and that only after I brought a younger coworker into my office one evening and made him do Garageband while I watched.) Old dogs, new tricks. I'll get it --
Meanwhile, I pause to note the passing away of a device (only recently learned to call them that, "devices",) I used the Hell out of and really, really liked. Whoever you are who made my Flip Video Camera? Thank you, and thank you, and thanks again, honest. You made my life better, made new things possible for me, helped me in my small way to keep old things alive; old books, old voices, old practice and the sound of literature hanging in the air. Proud of the work we did together, no matter who else noticed.
Adios, Ol' Paint.
Oh. With apologies then, constant reader, we must hereafter expect some delays while I get back on the new horse, as it were. Sorry.