Are your videos better off now than 4 years ago?

Are you better off now than 4 years ago?  Ronald Reagan famously asked this question of the American public in 1980.  Whatever your political affiliation, if you're a video storyteller, the answer is a definite "yes"! Regardless if you're a web video production pro or a simply a viewer who appreciates poignant storytelling, you've been affected by the introduction of HDSLR video camera technology into the mainstream public consciousness four years ago.  On September 17th, 2008 the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was introduced, and the world of visual storytelling has never been the same.  I'd argue the growth has been by leaps and bounds, and in such a concentrated manner , the results have begun a "Storytelling Renaissance" in digital media production.  Here's my reasoning:

1. Economics

Four years ago, to get the depth of field a prime lens offers at an affordable price, you were either shooting on Panasonic AG-HVX200 with a Red Rock M2 35mm adapter, or you were praying for a bigger budget project where you could rent a RED One Camera.  If you've shot with either, you remember the expensive P2 cards and the cumbersome Red Rock image output (it was upside down and had to be fixed in post).  You also remember the RED One sticker shock for all the add-ons you had to rent or buy.  I remember counting more than 10 extra boxes of gear to build 1 RED One camera.  Not to mention the absolute need to pay a camera tech to build, an AC to help shoot, and a grip just to lug all the extra boxes around.

You don't need Adam Smith to figure the economics of this scenario.  An HDSLR camera offers the ability to shoot with prime lenses, delivering vibrant color and shallow depth of field not only affordably, but also in an "Itty-bitty living space" (yes, I went there, quoting "the genie").  The extremely low price for an HDSLR rig has meant an explosion of experimental, beautiful storytelling.  Another economic byproduct?  Competition has spawned trickle-down innovation, see new cameras from Blackmagic and Sony as evidence, and in supplemental tools like the GoPro and LED light technologies.

2. Technology

Do you have better technology available now than four years ago?  In the world of video production, the introduction of DSLR video camera technology has given more people the opportunity to have a creative video voice.  Advances in technology have brought professional tools to a larger audience, and innovation has been a happily predictable result.

When I was in college, we had one expensive Panasonic HD camera which more than a thousand Ball State Communications students were vying for the rights to use.  You can imagine how little time we had to play with, learn, and ultimately create.  Now, low prices and broad appeal mean more accessibility to amazing technology for more people.

Whenever large concentrations of creative people have sudden access to a new technology, an advance in the art form can be expected.  To see the evidence of this "Storytelling Renaissance" go to Vimeo and type in "DSLR".  You get more than 54,000 results back.  The amazing part?  The videos, no matter what the level of expertise, all look gorgeous!  Save the time and see the results here.

3. Education

This issue scores big in exit polls from both sides.  Here's one extra ingredient helping setup this "perfect storm" of creative video storytelling renaissance: education.

Social media and information-sharing have inspired thousands of aspiring filmmakers and video storytellers to bypass the usual route of college communications degrees and film schools.  Instead, teachers like Phillip Bloom and Shane Hurlbut have become folk heroes in the HDSLR community for their knowledge and accessibility to anyone with a DSLR video camera, an internet connection, and a willingness to learn.  When you need to further develop your creative storytelling?  Just buy a few iphone/ipad apps and read blogs like or this oft-tweeted guide on using depth of field for storytelling.

Easier, accessible education means better video results, both technically and creatively.

In closing, you may be a video production professional, a filmmaker, a marketer, or you might simply be a person who gets to reap the benefits on the viewing end, but in the world of digital media, we're all better off than four years ago.  The introduction of the HDSLR camera has started a "Storytelling Renaissance" in visually pleasing, creative digital media.  Better video and film content for all?  This is one policy we all can support.

To get more video producing tips from Jeremy Pinckert and Explore Media, click to download How to Produce for Video!