From the archives – a college movie from 1993

This is one of my earliest ever video productions. Back in 1993 I took a “video making” course at a local college (conincidentally, the same one where I now teach), and this was my end-of-course project.

Back then I didn’t have my own camera, so I borrowed an early hi8 analog camera from my boss at work and scrounged lights, microphones and stuff from the college. I convinced some of my friends who were on a “performing arts” course to act in it. Most impressively I even convinced the college to let us film on the roof. I think they were so astonished at anyone asking that they didn’t know what to say 🙂

This little 3 minute 44 second video took us 8 four-hour evening course sessions to set up and record. I took over an hour of raw footage. Much of this was due to the kind of continuity problems you get when there’s a week between each shoot. Can you believe that my “lead actress” went and had her hair permed in the middle, requiring us to re-shoot all her scenes!

That all sounds familiar enough, but for the next bit you need to remember that this was 1993. Before common internet access, before powerful home PCs and low-cost video editing software. The only computer I had available was a BBC microcomputer with 64 K of RAM that struggled with the meagre titles I eventually used. All the editing was done “live” with two video players and a vision mixer. No digitisation, no codecs, no computers. Just analog video from hi8 to SVHS. All done (and re-done, and re-done, and re-done) in one crazy 24-hour-long session.

Back then there was no widescreen video, so the final output was recorded on to regular video tape with thick “letterbox” borders. At the end I had to give back all the equipment and the tapes, so I lost the “original” footage. Now that I have more technology available, I have attempted to digitise from the somewhat worn VHS to something a bit more digital, and taken the opportunity to trim the borders so it can be seen in all its grainy, jumpy glory!

So here’s a test. Who can tell me the real reason why it was produced in “widescreen” ?

The video is enclosed, or you can download by clicking on the image

(WMV, 3:44, 10.2MB)

3 thoughts on “From the archives – a college movie from 1993

  1. I can think of two reasons. 1–hide tape “tracking” distortions on top or bottom of frame, and 2–helping to make it look more modern.

    A very good first video attempt for 1993! It’s obvious you put a lot of thought and care into it.


  2. funny thing is…the hardware has caught up to us.
    for under 1000$, you can buy a good DV set-up to make anything you want.
    for a couple hundred bucks you can get a simle camera to record on.
    dirtibution is now wide open…as you are showing us.
    now we got to catch up the technology.
    what do we show each other?

    by the way, thanks for all the feedback on FireANT.
    keep it coming.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys,

    Good guesses on the reason for the letterboxing, but not quite there. Here’s a clue: have you ever watched any of those “funniest home videos” shows? What do you see on those shows that you never see on “real” TV?

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