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March 2002: Paul Smith - Plug in, turn on, DV out.
There's a whole new reason to own a PC! How exciting is that! People used to put up with them to write letters of complaint to the BBC on (why else did the original MS Word come with a 'why-oh-why-oh-why' template?) and then Doom came out and people bought a 486 to play games on. After a while someone noticed the Internet and folk began wanting a thousand pound Pentium PC to save money on stamps and shoe leather. Now you can use one to remake Citizen Kane, The Shawshank Redemption or Dude, Where's My Car? That last sentence reads as a question, but actually it's a statement. To do this amazing feat, just add one digital camcorder.
A few seemingly short years ago you would have a VHS-C camera and edit onto a VHS video with it. A slow and nasty business that, after audio dubbing, produced a second-generation copy of something that wasn't crystal-clear to start with. Analogue video (i.e. [S-]VHS[-C], 8mm and Hi8) is rapidly on it's way out. Like music and mobile phones before it, video has gone all one-and-noughty. This is because you can now buy a good 500-line resolution digicam for under £400, and even the cheapest, nastiest 240-line analogue unit is £200 plus. You can still pay over a grand for a DV camera, but for that you get a gizmo so neat it comes with added 'lifestyle'. Great.
I'm not suggesting you stock a broad range of camcorders, tripods and fancy vests with eighty pockets. I'm sure specialist shops don't make big money from these up against the likes of- I need name no High Street names. I am saying you need to push Firewire(tm) (a.k.a. IEEE-1394 or i-link) cards and DV editing software, such as MGIs excellent VideoWave. This is a very lucrative enthusiasts market and as people migrate from older formats, or buy their first camcorder, they're looking to be able to edit their art. They could buy a dedicated DV editing box, but when a PC with all the gear (big, fast hard drive, CDRW or DVD-Burner maybe, plus the obligatory Firewire(tm) port) is a quarter of the price and capable of so much more, how many takers for the professional solution will there be? A woman in a wimple mate, that's how many.
This market is only going to grow as Internet bandwidths widen. Video streaming isn't going to be limited to fuzzy little boxes for much longer. Proper 24-frame-per-second full-screen presentations will become the norm. 18 minutes of DVD quality video equates to a CD-ROMs worth of data. At the moment that's one hell of a download, but in 3 years time, who knows?
That spotty bespectacled lad loitering in your shop could be the next Ridley Scott. That balding, bearded reclusive eccentric (and I know you have one) could be about to follow in Stanley Kubricks' enigmatic footsteps. Give them the tools. The P4 shouldn't be the centre of their digital world. It should be you, damn it.
Paul Smith is an ex retailer and now works (for want of a better word) in distribution.
502 more words Dale.
Bori-Dah (with apologies)
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