My Corner, Your Corner: Technology changes, but the purpose stays the same

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | October 14th, 2016 4:00 pm

Over the last few weeks, my daughter Tiffany has been bugging me to pull out the old videos I shot when the kids were young. Having videos of my kids only conjured up memories of when I was a little guy and my dad would film events.

When I was growing up, the only thing used to record moving events was a film camera, and they didn’t have sound. My dad had a film camera and projector by the name of Keystone; I still have the projector. Since lights did not come with the camera, Dad had this light bar that he had someone hold. That light bar was what seemed like four 1,000-watt bulbs that resembled floodlights.

He was able to capture events in low-light situations, but in every movie he shot using the lights, everyone would squint because the lights were so bright. It was almost like being hit with a solar flare.

I’m really glad my father had his film camera because he caught a lot of family history over the years. It’s so much fun to set up the film projector and watch 5-minute reels of film. Eventually, Dad bought a larger reel and he was able to splice reels together to create a longer show.

I guess I have always been into technology and sometimes I’ve paid a high price to get the latest tech toys. I suppose it’s not the most financially prudent move because technology prices are high when items first hit the market, and the same piece of equipment ends up being dirt-cheap after a time.

I think the very first VCR I bought was an RCA VHS tape deck. This thing was a monster and it cost somewhere in the price range of $350. But man, a device that can record TV shows? C’mon! At that time, it was cutting-edge stuff.

Not long after the introduction of video recording machines came the video camera recorder, better known as the camcorder. I had to have one of those too. After all, I had the playback machine for the TV (the VCR), so why not use it to watch recordings from the camcorder?

The very first camcorder I bought wasn’t even a single unit; the camera and recorder were separate pieces. The video camera was big and bulky, and I felt like I worked at one of the local TV stations with the size of the cameras they used. The camera was literally big enough to rest on my shoulder.

The recording deck was very large too. I’d say it was about the size of a huge briefcase that weighed 10 times more.

I’d have this large camera on my shoulder with a wire connected to the tape deck that I would have strapped over my shoulder. The whole thing was very big, bulky and not much fun to use.

I’m talking about technology from 35 years ago. We have come a long way since.

I did a lot of video recording back then, and by the time my second daughter Ashley came along, six years after Tiffany, I wasn’t so excited to do camcorder work. My body was leaning to one side and I was walking with a limp with all that equipment.

A lot of early videos are of Tiffany, but I probably have more still photos of Ashley.

As time went on, the camcorders got smaller and became one unit combined. It was much easier to captures events.

At one point, I took many of the film reels and recorded them on VHS tapes. It looks like I am going to have to convert those tapes to DVD to preserve them for several generations.

Today, forget the film, VHS tapes, even the DVDs because everything is recorded digitally and people can put a lifetime of events on a little flash drive. What will tomorrow bring? The very same camera I shoot photos with for the newspaper is also a video camera that can shoot 4K digital. It’s really astounding.

Even though my girls are not married and don’t have children, I hope one day they will be and can share our captured moments with their families.

I’ll continue to dig up more videos I’ve recorded with my own little family as well as collect all the film from my dad’s era and do my best to document them.

Even though technology changed over the generations, the premise is still the same — capture precious moments and events.

Dad’s life was stolen at an early age due to Alzheimer’s disease, but at least we have great moments of him on film and tape.

I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Thank you, Dad!

Quote of the week

“To do a common thing, uncommonly well, brings success.” – Henry John Heinz, American businessman.

Thought of the week

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, American first lady.

Bumper sticker

“Silence gives consent.” – Pope Boniface VIII

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at