Has social media killed “home movies” in the form we once knew?

vhs tapes vcr and video camera

When I was growing up, my family filmed everything on video cameras. Holidays, Christmases, school awards nights, we filmed them all. As a kid, I found this very boring and annoying, but as I got older I started filming things too.

I have recently looked back on some old home movies from overseas holidays and found them to be quite interesting and an overall “better” representation of the holiday compared to the photos and videos people post to Facebook today.

What were these old home movies like?

A home movie shot on video generally had multiple scenes, locations and days stitched together as one long continuous video. Scenes often end abruptly and nearly always including shots of just walking around aiming the camera at unprepared people or scenery. These were shot as historical records of our holidays, never intended to be shared too broadly outside of our home. As a result, everything is very candid and natural. There is also a lot of filler material that makes you wonder why we bothered filming it. Some of the most interesting parts of home movies come from the moments in between the intended moments. Picking up the characteristics and mannerisms of your friends and family that you don’t notice or appreciate until years later.

Home videos today

Rather than one long video, your mobile phone creates a new file every time you start and stop recording. Most people will film these in portrait mode and either posts them straight to Facebook, or they might even record or live stream it within a social media app. In this new generation of home videos for social media, people are far more aware of their audience and will act up for them. People will often do multiple takes of their recordings to ensure everything is perfect, hoping to increase the shareability and likeability of the video. This also results in overall shorter videos and far fewer moments captured during holidays and events. None of the old “filler” footage really seems to be recorded anymore, only the absolute highlights that will be good enough to share.

When did everything change?

There seem to be several different forces that came together towards the end of the 2010s that saw a decline in this kind of video.

  1. The end of videotapes and standalone video cameras. Whilst the film industry is still doing their thing, the home camcorder has become a thing of the past. The modern cameras people use today can take great video and photos and stores everything on an SD card.
  2. The rise of solid state media. An advantage over video tape is that you don’t have to capture your footage to a computer in real time anymore.
  3. Facebook and YouTube have of course been a major factor. Unlike Facebook, YouTube is more designed around traditional landscape video designed for your computer monitor or TV.

So are home movies dead?

Not quite. They are certainly much shorter and more concise. They are probably more entertaining too. They are designed to be viewed on a mobile phone, not a TV. You will probably lose them if you don’t post them online or keep good backups. But they are still here and are now more accessible than ever.

What do you think?

Written by Keith Nallawalla

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