Why is nobody making home movies?

Are you shooting video clips on your phone, putting them together into a movie and sharing it with family and friends frequently? If you are, congratulations, you're in the minority (and don't read this blog).  If you're not, continue reading and I'll explain why then present a solution.

Uber was started because Travis Kalanick got fed up with taxi's, Reid Hastings started Netflix because he was fed up with the experience of renting DVDs and since, the stupid cable TV situation, and Elon Musk got tired of waiting for the American car companies to make a great electric car.  We are in a revolution of disrupting existing, outdated and bloated ways to function in life, it's amazing.  My mission is to do the same thing for videos, which is reinvent the way people shoot, assemble, and share videos..

I've been in the professional video industry for 16 years, since starting a dotcom in 1999.  I've watched the evolution of video technology closely and know much about the "behind the scenes" of movie making, especially special effects.  This has given me a unique perspective on why most people are not making home movies with their phones.

The problem is connected to the history of filmmaking

Here's the deal, for two decades everyone has been trying to improve video editing, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the technology. But the problem is they are trying to improve a broken metaphor or paradigm, which is the way film was originally edited.  Motion picture cameras were invented in the 1890's and captured all images on strips of film. In order to create a movie or edit the scenes into the right place, film was literally cut and glued back together.  The big breakthrough was digitizing each frame, called telecine, then using a computer to rearrange or "edit" the scenes.  All video editors today are built around the same same metaphor.  Maybe it's time we did it differently.

Why I suck?

I'm going to dig into human behavior a bit to make my point and why I created Home Movies. For years I shot 100's of hours of videos on a variety of cameras and phones with every intention of making great movies in my editing program(s), but it turns out I suck and only made 4 or 5 videos.  Then I started thinking about the process and why I was such a terrible person for not assembling the greatest moments of my family's life.  It turns out, it wasn't my fault. After asking 100's of people, everyone wasn't making movies either and all had 1000's of clips on their phones and hard drives too.  Being part of a failed herd is strangely comforting. But then I had the epiphany on why it's not happening and I got to work on the solution!

Why we don't make home movies?

There are two main reasons people don't edit their videos or put more than one clip together today.  Today's editing apps have too many features (and are too complicated) and it is a POST process.  If you haven't read The Paradox of Choice, you should, it's an incredible insightful view into how complexity in choices and situations are paralyzing us.  Sure it's lame and we should just fight through it, but I tend to look at the reality of how people are actually behaving, not how they "should" behave.  This technique is one of the keys to the success I've experienced in the five companies I've founded and run.  The Paradox of Choice author, psychologist Barry Schwartz, does several studies and provides examples that demonstrate the more options you give a person, the less likely they will make a decision or do something.  I applied his science and conclusions to the technology and software industry.  If an application is too complicated, you're much less likely to use it.

Reason number 1: too many features is a problem

In the case of movie making, having all the features in our fancy editing programs works against us and is paralyzing our process.  Here's what happened to me dozens of times.  I'm shooting a really special, once-in-a-lifetime moment of my daughter's first time on stage.  I shoot a ton of great clips then have the grand plan to create a spectacular title sequence, add clever transitions throughout the movie, pick the perfect music, put "credits" at the end and finally add some narration to really hit home the significance of this incredible moment. I'm compelled to add all these features because they are in the program, and I'd be a total jackass if I didn't make the best movie possible for this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime moment. But alas, I didn't make it, massive fail again.  I took a simple project and made it too complicated, or made a mountain out of a molehill.  The complexity of the project, or scope aided in my procrastination and failure to accomplish the task. 

Reason number 2: If you don't do it now, you likely won't

This is the big one!  We all struggle with prioritizing what to do every day.  We are both blessed and cursed to live in such prosperity that our days are full of choices that run the full gamut of necessary to ridiculous.  But the bottom line is that our days are full.  Here's the real key to our failure to make home movies, today's editing apps are a POST processes, or a process we do "after" an event.  Does this sound familiar?  Shoot your amazing videos, on your amazing pocket video camera, then later that day or the next day, launch your editor, import the video and make that movie;  or a "post" process.  Unfortunately this process is based on 1890's technology, or when the original motion film cameras were invented.  After we shoot our videos, great intention meets life, and life wins.  We don't ever make the movie.  Crap we suck and we failed our family again.

Here's the thing, I have worked in the professional video industry for 16 years.  In fact, I founded one the biggest special effects and image enhancement companies in the world, Red Giant.   I wrote an article in 2011 begging the industry to shift their investment from just adding more "features" and more "tech" to making filmmaking easier for everyone. Read Blog Post.  This has not happened.  There comes a point when you have to stop complaining and start solving problems.

The offenders

The main offenders I hold responsible for us shooting 1000's of hours of video footage never to be seen by anyone, are Apple, Samsung, GoPro, Canon and Sony.  They made video capture devices so seductive that we cannot help but buy them and push their record buttons.  Take GoPro for example.  Dozens of friends and I have bought those cute little cubes and captured moments never before imaginable, in water, screaming down a slope, or hiking up a mountain.  We just didn't realize we were being duped.  They didn't tell us their software (and all other editing software) required a dual degree from NYU Film School and MIT Engineering.

Welcome to the new revolution of filmmaking

All great ideas have inspiration or moments when the light bulb illuminates.  For me, I was watching a VHS tape of my high school football games (ah, those were the days;-) a year ago.  Then it hit me that VHS cameras may be the last time anyone actually shot, made home movies, and watched them.   VHS cameras had the most ingenious built-in editing feature.  A feature so brilliant that everyone could use it and at the end of the event, the movie was done.  No editing, just movie making.  I like to call the technology, "start-stop editing".  Yes, you start the recording when the moment starts, like a ball in play, and stop when it's done, or the ball goes out of bounds.  Continue this process until the event, like a theater performance, birthday party, football game, or night out on the town, is done.  Home movie done!

When I called my patent attorney and explained my idea to him, he said two things.  That's sounds awesome, I want to use it and in a slightly mocking tone, "you don't have any patentable technology, what you're doing is too simple".  He tried to brainstorm with me on how we could add more complexity so we could file a patent.  I said, "no thanks", finished Home Movies and shoved it out to the market for free.


...but all the home movies you'll make, will be priceless.

Don't Edit, Just Make Movies.  Stop and start your way to capturing life's great moments.  Life is a movie, let's grab and share it.  I have spent a year developing and using this and am ready to share it with you.

We Promise

  • Home Movies will never have any features you think you want but will never use.
  • Home Movies will never allow you to make choices (other than your brilliant video moments).
  • Home Movies will constrain and reject your desires to add a dozen amazing special effects, music and transitions.
  • Home Movies will guarantee you'll always capture that special event in a movie.
  • Home Movies will guarantee grandma and grandpa will see your daughter's performance, edited and in full.
  • Home Movies will guarantee you'll make movies that will win you an Oscar....at home.
  • Everyone will always be able use Home Movies.