March 23, 2005

"Did you get that?"

A couple of people have asked why, since I'm this filmmaker and all, I don't post more about shooting video, which is, after all, one of a dad's traditional responsibilities. I could go on about breaking that mold, but the deep, dark, secret reason is, I've barely shot any video of the kid at all. I find it very hard to switch, mentally, between the dad and the removed, camera-wielding observer. I'm working on it, though, so stay tuned.

In the mean time, I just came across this account of a touchier situation, and another place where I didn't fulfill my camcordering resposnibilities: in the delivery room. This is from Bryan Curtis's pretty ruthless Slate-down of Demi Moore:

Pregnancy also gives Moore what Hollywood starlets really want: creative control. "Gimme Moore," as one studio executive dubbed her, spent her career terrorizing directors into caving to her demands. But never did she wield more influence than at the birth of her oldest daughter, Rumer, in 1988. Moore traveled with then-husband Bruce Willis to Paducah, Ky., where he was shooting In Country. She commandeered a local hospital, placing three video cameras and a director named Randy in the delivery room. When her labor started, the cameras rolled, with Willis looking brave if a bit bewildered, as in Die Hard, and Moore panting and moaning, as in Indecent Proposal. When the baby's head finally emerged, Moore was said to turn to the director and grunt, "Did you get that?" Though largely unseen, it remains a canonical performance, just behind her work in G.I. Jane and Blame It on Rio.
Demi Moore: The mother of all actresses [slate.com]

8 Comments

We were told we could not film (or even take photos of, I believe) the actual delivery. If I had to guess, I would say the reason was minimizing evidence in potential malpractice cases.

exactly. our hospital specifically said so. I could only use the camera before or after the pushing and delivery stage. I guess that's one advantage of a home birth.

I'd choose a different hospital if I knew ahead of time that I couldn't record a vaginal birth. Cameras in a c-section room might be a different matter because conditions are more controlled and the individual surgeon may get his/her way. A vaginal birth probably has 1 doctor, 2 nurses and any number of visitors. A c-section may have 6 medical staff (surgeon, surgical assistant, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, scrub nurse, and OB nurse) and only 1 visitor. You may have to get signed consent from everyone in the room, or avoid recording those people, and that's not an environment a doctor will prefer. [My wife is an OB nurse, so that's how it is at one hospital anyhow.]

As for Greg's point, I take mostly still photos rather than video for several reasons.

* My best shots go into a photo album. Two or three from a 100-shot sequence might make it.
* Video clips are more labor intensive to cut down into a time-reduced presentable form.
* Photos are manageable and easy to share with anyone via e-mail, mail, web site or in-person.
* Video clips take longer to download, require navigating media formats and players, and present more serious legacy issues ten years down the road.

Most importantly, my kid isn't going to remember the first few years of her life. What I record and preserve for her will shape her memory. I'd prefer that memory be her numerous perfect happy still photos rather than the crying and awkward moments. I still shoot video from time-to-time, but only at pivitol moments -- learning to crawl, first birthday, etc. Still photos can represent a span of *years* easier than video.

i was surprised when the doctor's said i could take my camera in with me during a very unexpected c-section at 25 weeks. and even more surprised when i discovered that i managed to witness the entire procedure without remembering to take a single photograph since i was dumbstruck by the entire process. i had this image in my head that c-sections were about as invasive as minor cosmetic surgery. not so, in our case.

i echo the comments on photos versus video. it's been my experience that editing video is so time consuming it makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out with a spoon.

And of course, watching someone's unedited video makes me want to do the same.

I love the little video clips that most digital point-n-shoots can do these days. 30 seconds of MPG is quite emailable, and keeps grandma happy. no editing necessary. getting "regular" video encoded is indeed a bit more of a pain, but makes for nifty DVDs when you've got a week to kill.

I think you're trying to candy-coat life if you're unwilling to show the cries and awkwardness. such is the stuff of life, and I think attempting to show a perfect face is doing your kids a disservice.

I (so far), do not mind the video editing (when my firewire port isn't burning out my video camera so I have to send it back for repairs). I have been designated to take of the family movie "job" from my father-in-law, who just recently converted his 8mm and reel-to-reel to digital. He makes nice family movies (I enjoy seeing my wife when she was younger)- there are several scenes with appropriate music, maybe an hour per timespan total.

It's not like I'm doing any serious filmmaking here. Single camera, single shot stuff. To me, it is a hobby, just as taking still photos of my family. I've gotten really nice shots of the little ones (and lots of the cats before she came along).

And I also just wanted to note that, amongst the many photos of my daughter I have at the office, there is one of her crying... just so I remember the bad with the good.

bobw, it's not my intention to candy-coat life. Let me explain it another way.

I have one photo of my early childhood, of me sucking my thumb at perhaps 9 months. My earliest memories are of vague events at 3 or 4 years of age.

In contrast, I've taken more than 5,000 photos in my daughter's first 9 months. Plenty of those are mediocre bland baby photos. Some early ones are the typical all-out crying fits that new parents find cute for some reason. While I'll keep all of these photos burned to a CD for my daughter to view at some distant future date, our everyday photo album will mostly remember the perfect happy moments. (By "perfect" I simply mean the best photos from each life event. Smiles good. No one blinking. Etc.) I prefer to reinforce the good times.

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