14 June 2019

The Cameras Got Smaller: Adventures in Booktubing

When, after years of school and paid internships I was working my first proper full-time job, I found myself in a somewhat comfortable situation.  Nothing luxurious - the job didn't pay that well.  However, I was living at home and had few expenses, and I actually had some disposable income for the first time in my life.  Travel was discounted because of said job, I didn't drive and I didn't need a car.  Should I have been saving money?  Sure, but who said I was practical?  While I didn't go crazy spending, I did buy the one thing I'd always wanted: a camcorder.  It was a JVC VHS, and much smaller than the 80s camcorders. I loved this thing.  My friend Marie and I spent hours making videos for our amusement, and I learned that while I am socially awkward, I wasn't necessarily camera shy.  I can say with certainty that I dissolved into fits of giggles far fewer times than Jimmy Fallon, who arrived on SNL around the same time.

Marie had a 'makeup tutorial' that, while satirical, anticipated the future by close to a decade.  I had a thing called 'Taking Tea With Catherine', surprise surprise, which was basically about tea, but with the persona of an exaggerated prim and proper lady most of the time. None of this went beyond friends and family, because none of it could.  If we wanted to show someone our videos, they would have to watch it with us (because I wasn't about to lend my tapes to anyone!  Overtaping was a dreaded reality).

My camcorder never broke down, though the tape door became loose and had to be secured with rubber bands.  In a short time DVD camcorders were more popular, followed by digital.  I mean to digitize all those tapes, mainly because I'd like to see the recordings of my Dad and the old cats, and the time when I met Brian May and didn't take any photos.

Within a year of starting this blog (it is getting to be vintage at this point) I was made aware of the fascinating rabbit hole that is YouTube.  One of my first thoughts was that I was glad it didn't exist in the days when I was making videos, because what kind of silliness would I have shared with the masses?  Occasionally I ended up posting a video, mostly badly lit videos of my cats, and looking back it was nice to see Moofer in action once again (well, basically just being a cuddle smoosh, but who's complaining?)  I rarely subscribed to any YouTube channels, up until a year or so ago, when I started following a couple of language channels, a fountain pen expert, and of course a few cats.  

One day, I was seriously missing my walks in London, particularly to the different bookshops, and I found posts of booktubers going around to some of the same shops as well as some I wasn't familiar with.  This stoked my curiosity, so I began lurking on these booktubers' channels and eventually following quite a few.  At first it was mainly channels from the UK, and then some from the US and Canada, and perhaps one from India?  Of course I was drawn to those who read books that I liked or was interested in - some of the others that I'd started with were mainly into YA (young adult), which I rarely read.

Sometimes when you read a lot, you feel moved to write your own material.  I started feeling that way about Booktube, but I hesitated.  I don't have any professional equipment, let alone editing software.  I have this blog and only update it once or twice a month: why commit to something else?  Who has time for this nonsense?  Who would watch it?  I'm older than most of the booktubers out there: won't I seem out of touch or something?

Then I realized something, and that was: who cares?  I'm going to make a few videos, and have fun with it.  I'll talk about the things I like to talk about, and what's more, I'm going to keep it in the theme of my blog.  I'll look into editing at some point, but only if I enjoy making videos.  So I made the leap, and here are the first two posts:

An unhaul, because catharsis

A haul, because Catherine

What I've learned so far from the experience is that editing would help.  I have to run straight through without breaking at this point.  Angling is important, because the chins that disappeared from my daily life find their way back on camera. Also, I knew this already, but it's even more obvious: I cannot sit still.  If there was a drinking game that revolved around how many times I pushed my glasses up, folks would be blaming me for their morning hangover! 

I may keep this going, at least for the different themes I have in mind.  I'd welcome any advice, especially regarding the technicalities.  

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