Image Processing Reference
now the technology is here to realize that capability. In fact, modern third-generation
mobile phones are more functional and more compact than science fiction writers had
envisaged being available hundreds of years into the future. Handheld video, and
touch-screen, flat-screen, and large-screen video, are all available here and now. They
are being rolled out in a front room near you right this minute. What we take for granted
and routinely use every day is already way beyond the futuristic technologies of the Star
Tr e k crew.
Portable Video Shoot and Edit
Portable cameras have been around for a long time. Amateur film formats were made
available to the consumer as 8-mm home movie products; they replaced earlier and more
unwieldy film gauges. The 8-mm formats became increasingly popular in the 1950s and
'60s. The major shortcomings of these were that they held only enough footage to shoot 4
minutes, and most models required that the film be turned over halfway through, so your
maximum shot length was only 2 minutes. At the time, battery technology was less sophis-
ticated than what we take for granted now, and many cameras were driven by clockwork
These devices were displaced quite rapidly with the introduction of VHS home-
video systems in the late 1970s. Several formats were introduced to try and encourage
mass appeal. But editing the content was cumbersome and required several expensive
four-head video recorders.
Just after the start of the new millennium, digital cameras reached a price point that
was affordable for the home-movie enthusiast. Now that the cameras can be fitted with
Firewire interfaces (also called iLink and IEEE 1394), their connection to a computer has
revolutionized the video workflow. These cameras use the digital video (DV) format that
is virtually identical to the DVCAM format used by professional videographers and TV
companies. The DV format was originally conceived by Sony as digital 8-mm tape for use
in Sony Handycam® recorders.
Figure 2-9 illustrates the current state of the art that is represented by a system such
as an Apple Macintosh G4 12-inch laptop with a FireWire connection to a Sony DCR PC
105 camera. The camera and laptop fit in a small briefcase. This combination is amazingly
capable for a very reasonable total purchase price of less than $3000. The Apple laptop
comes already installed with the iMovie video-editing software that is sufficient to edit
and then burn a DVD (with the iDVD application). You can walk out of the store with it
and start working on your movie project right away.
Of course, there are alternative software offerings, and other manufacturers' laptops
support the same functionality. Sony VAIO computers are very video capable because they
are designed to complement Sony's range of cameras, and the Adobe Premier and Avid
DV editing systems are comparable to the Apple Final Cut Pro software if you want to use
This is all done more effectively on desktop machines with greater processing power.
The laptop solution is part of an end-to-end process of workflow that allows a lot of work
to be done in the field before content is shipped back to base.