Missing Your Life Through a Lens

Idly looking though Youtube the other day I found a complete concert by Oasis, staged in 2005 at, obviously, the City of Manchester Stadium. (As if the Gallagher brothers would have stepped into that place in Salford to do the gig!)

As the Jimmy Jib camera zoomed over the audience, I saw their hands in the air, some holding the electronic equivalent of the cigarette lighter, phones with the flash light on, swaying along to “Wonderwall”.

What was self-evident was how involved the audience were: Just seeing and soaking up the moment. No one was stuck behind their phone screen, capturing shaky, dis-jointed images, married to appalling recorded audio.

Granted this was, in terms of the smartphone, pre-history - the 1st generation iPhone wasn’t released until two years later, but back then some phones were available with cameras built in. It was just no one was using them.

Back of the head
Do a Youtube search of any artist you like and it will return: Said artist, “such-and-such festival -complete concert”, or similar. Click on it and it’s a fair bet you’ll to be presented with a video shot from the audience pit, someone’s head getting in the way, captured by the poster who had been dancing along at the time. What you’ll listen to is nearby concert goers shouting over the PA audio, that itself wholly lacks any bass and is distorted to the point of inaudibility.


Hmmm. Nice camera work...

To add insult to injury, if the performance was at a major event, your find the broadcaster’s professionally shot and recorded footage of the same thing just one click away!

Dear concert-goer, why did you bother to video it in the first place? Why didn’t you just buy your ticket, enjoy the moment and relive it by watching the far-far better quality, broadcaster-produced, material later? You would have had a much more enjoyable time.

When the OB cameramen were covering Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon, they might have been willing Andy on, but their job was to get the game-play for the viewer, not jump around as he won each point. They may have been there, but they weren’t part of the event.

And the same goes for the smartphone videographer, hiding behind their 2 x 3” screen, recording poor quality “content”. They are disconntecting themselves from what is going on and thus missing so much action, emotion and fun.

Sacrificing memories
“Ah” you might say” “They are capturing memories personal to them.”

Ok accpted, they could rightfully claim they were there. But after one or two viewings, how often will they watch it? I mean, how many couples, on a weekly basis, get their wedding photo album out and relive that most important moment in their lives? And I bet, on that special day, they weren’t exchanging rings in one hand and had their camera-phone in the other.

So what am I saying? Sure, at any event, take pictures, perhaps of your friends and fellow attendees, mutually enjoying the moment, check-in and tweet to say you where there, shoot a short video of your reactions and do grab a few images of the concert, but spare us your poor efforts in video production (that just clog-up Youtube anyway) and just enjoy the actual moment of being there.

You will be glad you did.


Because, if you do, your emotions and memories will live on far longer than those you sacrificed to shoot some shaky images you will only watch, at most, twice.

Iain Betson