The Video Camera Cell Phone: Not Hollywood, But Not Bad
Cell phone users around the world were set on their cell phone-imprinted ears in 2000 when Sharp of Japan introduced the first camera cell phone. Competiton then demanded that all cell phone manufacturers were required to design competing versions of the camera cell phone, each one outdoing its predecessors in terms of pixels, flash and zoom capacity, and any other feature which could be incorporated into a camera housed in a phone the size of a pack of playing cards. And when all that was not enough, the video camera cell phone made its appearance.
Although Japanese cell phone maker Kyocera marketed a video camera cell phone in 1999, although in terms of today's technology it might as well have been made in the first year of the 20th century instead of the final one. The original video camera phone was the Kyocera VisualPhone, capable of transmitting video of its user to the person on the receivingend of the call at a whopping two images per second.
The caller sending the video would look into a camera on the top of the VisualPhone handset, and the caller receiving the video would receive the transmitted images courtesy of a 2" LCD screen. The VisualPhone retailed for a hefty $300; its lithium-ion battery needed replenishing after only an hour of transmitting some very jerky images; and it was simply too bulky to find commercial success.
But many an innovation has begun no ovation, and the failed VisualPhone paved the way for ten years of video camera cell phone advances so that the consumers of 2007 and beyond can fancy themselves budding cinematographers. Not only do video camera cell phones take videos; they perform as video conferencing tools so that any two people with 3G video camera cell phones can talk and eyeball each other simultaneously.
Some video camera cell phones with conferencing capability actually have swiveling cameras, which can be positioned to face the phones' users for conference calls, and repositioned away from the users to take still photographs. 3G video camera cell hones can be used only with wireless networks quipped to handle 3G technology. Japan and South Korea are the two countries with the largest percentages of 3G users, but even so as of June 2007 less than seven percent of the world's three billion cell phone subscriptions were to networks with 3G support capacity.
Even without video conferencing capacity, video camera cell phones can still be used to capture life as it happens, even if the results are somewhat grainy and lacking in color depth. And the video camera cell phone microphone is not designed to filter out background noise, so if the dialogue accompanying the video ii important, it will probably have to be re-recorded when the video is edited. It can, furthermore, be a challenge to find a video editing program which can handle the product of a video camera cell phone.
But the softer lines and shadows of video camera cell phone footage have an air of Impressionism, and when compared to the standard YouTube video of a stationary talking head, the freedom of movement captured on a cell phone out in the real world can be very appealing!