Part IV: Recording Your Event
The value of a permanent video record cannot be overstated. Although many feel that the rise of YouTube has led to a decrease in general literacy, it’s worth remembering that Web surfers can now look up any poet of note and watch them perform, getting to know their work in a way not conceivable less than ten years ago. Since UC Stanford has agreed to record the entire event as part of their LOCKSS program, any video recordings made as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change will be available to literary historians indefinitely, with no loss of quality—creating an archive that would’ve been science fiction a few years ago.
If you have an equipment-buying budget, you might want to look at Webcasting as a home movie in the previous chapter, where you’ll find advice on using Firewire technology to set up a system by which you can simultaneously webcast and produce a high-quality recording. If you aren’t budgeted for that, or aren’t interested in webcasting, consider a Flip camera.
Recently, the Flip line of cameras from Cisco have cornered the home video market. These cameras are extremely easy to use, have good sound pickup, and are quite inexpensive. Many poetry events, including a number of mine, have been recorded with Flip cameras, and I recommend them. However, they do not work with webcasting, as they are not true digital video cameras.
Great sound. Picture quality is decent in all models, but is amazing with the new UltraHD line.
Can plug into most Windows and Mac machines directly, without the need for software installation.
Easy to use; it primarily operates on the “one button” start-and-stop concept.
Inexpensive new, and very cheap used on eBay.
No memory card. Most home cameras have a very small internal memory, but allow you to swap inexpensive memory cards at any time. Flip cameras, on the other hand, record directly to a sizable internal memory. Once that memory is full, you have to download it to your computer, then erase it. This will force you to bring a laptop to your event, then will require breaks between recording sessions as you clear the camera’s memory. Some Flip cameras have an unusually long recording time, but if you need a very long session of uninterrupted recording, you’ll have to go for a more traditional type of DV camera.
Again, Flip cameras do not follow the true Digital Video standard, and thus cannot be used as webcams.
So, essentially the Flip cameras offer great quality recordings at a uniquely low price, while losing some of the extra features that previously came standard with every personal camera.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are many competing cameras. When purchasing a home camera, please consider sound as carefully as video: cheap cameras will often advertise their great resolution, but be essentially unusable due to low sound quality. Slightly more expensive cameras will have an input jack for an external microphone, potentially solving the issue but requiring greater investment.
Finally, tripods are cheap and last forever. Please do not attempt to record a poetry event on a personal camera without one.