Equipment Chronicles — Chasing Quality on YouTube

Literally, weโ€™d shoot on VHS. If I had four hours of raw video, it took four hours to feed it all into my editing machine, as I had to play it real-time while my hard drive recorded it (like a VCR).

Perfection is a cruel mistress with an unforgiving chase. Quality is attainable company, and a much more rewarding investment.

I started this journey back in 2008. Well, technically I started it in ’07, but the fine folks at YouTube decided to delete my original channel back then because I posted a video of a boxer walking to the ring and asked if anyone knew the song he used for his entrance. Heh, yes. That was YouTube then. I reorganized in April 2008 under the name lordkayossrippro which was a portmanteau of sorts for the pseudonym Lord Kayoss and a “brand name” I made up on-the-fly called R.I.P. Productions. I never copyrighted it, though back then I probably told people I did. Luckily, YouTube ended up allowing us the ability to change our channel urls. It’s much easier to direct someone to youtube.com/lordkayoss.

Despite having been a video production hobbyist for years by that point, in 2008 I was still fairly new to digital editing, and producing videos using computer equipment was a craft I had much to learn about. Coming from the analog world of VHS tape and basic consumer-level hardware, I had a daunting task ahead of me in making the transition to digital. Fortunately, my desire to create was strong enough to will me through the frustrations brought on by the repetitive trial and error of self-teachings. For every fist-slam on the desk there was at least an educational seed planted that would marinate in my mind and inch me in the direction I wanted to go.

My first round of equipment in this process is something to behold 15 years later. I had all the inspiration in the world and the drive to put it to work, but lacked sufficient equipment to get within a mile of capturing what I’d see in my head on video with visual accuracy. I’d have these grandiose ideas and vivid pictures swirling in my mind, but by the time they passed through the degradation filters of a VHS camcorder and an obsolete computer running subpar editing software, the end result was often disappointing. Literally, we’d shoot on VHS. From poor lighting quality and horrible (NiCad) battery performance to the limited storage confines of VHS, the process was a total chore. Packing several extension cables in hopes of finding an exterior power outlet on outdoor shoots was not only necessary, but detrimental. In extreme cases I’d even resort to plugging into an inverter that was connected to my car battery. If we shot more than two hours of raw video we had to change out the tape and start a new one. When filming wrapped, if I had four hours of raw video, it took four hours to feed it all into my editing machine, as I had to play it real-time while my hard drive recorded it (like a VCR). That’s a ton of extra work for 480 resolution.

 

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