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The Rise of Amateur Filming

Amateur film making is not new. Examples of amateur video footage go back to the 19th century. Much non-professional film making was done, for example, at the Word Fair in New York in 1939, almost 8 decades ago.

Before video cameras and editing software was developed, home videos were usually shot on 16 mm film or on 8 mm film (see Timeline below). When the former came on the scene, new film makers found a platform which was cheap and easily available, and yet it had the features to match professional film-making equipment. During the 1980’s, patents were released which aimed to process of converting home video to VHS and 3D, and now we have technologies to transfer old cine films to DVD. This has largely enhanced the picture and sound quality of amateur films.

The importance of amateur filming was recognised early on. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” was aired on 1989. This is a show which has nothing but humorous videos made on personal video cameras. It currently finished its 23rd season (becoming the longest-running primetime show on ABC), closing with a viewership of 6.8 million.

But that is not all. Home movies have also played important roles in controversial criminal investigations. The prime example is the Zapruder film of the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, accidentally captured on Abraham Zapruder’s 8 mm home movie camera. This served as a crucial piece of evidence for investigation assassination.

Finally, we have YouTube.com, where most of the top rated videos were made using amateur filming equipment. YouTube is now the 3rd most visited website on the internet, getting 1 billion unique visitors every month, and a video running time of 6 billion hours.

Timeline (Development of Film Stock)
• Birtac 17.5mm Nitrate, 1898
• Biokam 17.5mm Nitrate, 1899
• Vitak Projector, 11mm Film, 1902
• Ikonograph, 17.5mm, ca 1905
• Duoscope, 17.5 Nitrate, 1912
• Pathé 28mm Safety Film System, 1912
• Edison Home Kinetoscope, 22mm Safety, 1912
• Movette System, 1917
• Vitalux System, 1918/1922
• Safety Standard 28mm Film, 1918
• 9.5mm Safety Film, 1922
• Eastman Kodak 16mm Safety film System, 1923
• Kodacolor, 1928
• Kemco Homovie, 1931
• Eastman Kodak’s 8mm System, 1932
• Eastman Kodak Kodachrome, 1935
• Eastman Kodak Super 8, 1965
• Fuji Photo Film Co., Single 8, 1965
• Eastman Kodak Single System Ektasound, 1973