Digital Video Solutions: The Future of Digital Video

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since I started writing for Mac Today magazine, the publication that eventually became Layers magazine. In that time, digital video has gone from being a novelty (QuickTime 2 was released in February 1994) to a “revolution” adopted by hundreds of thousands of professional videographers to a process so simple and mundane that millions of people upload videos to sites such as YouTube every day. Who could have guessed that a third grader with a consumer HD camcorder and iMovie software running on an iMac could do more today than anything I could have dreamed of doing back in 1995 with my $50,000 Media 100, Beta SP system? And that system was a steal back then! I was so excited about producing broadcast quality video in my spare bedroom that I spent most of the mid-to-late-nineties inviting people over to my house to show them my setup and ask excitedly, “Can you believe I’m doing this at home?”

I still remember the first column I wrote where readers responded with great enthusiasm and gratitude for what I’d shared. It was the October 1994 issue where I gave tips on specific system resources you could un-install so that you could still run media with 4 MB of RAM, instead of having to upgrade your system to 8 MB or (God-forbid) the unheard of 16 MB of RAM. Either option would cost hundreds of dollars plus an install fee from an approved technician. It’s hard for many people in today’s industry to believe that we were actually creating digital video files with those limited resources back then, but Adobe Premiere was already at version 4 by July of 1994.

But that’s the past; what does the future hold? Obviously, nobody knows for sure, but here are 10 things I think we’ll see in the next 15 years:

1. I think we’ll see video cameras where consumers don’t have to record video to tape or to a solid-state device (hard drive, flash memory) of any kind. Instead, video will be wirelessly recorded to a virtual storage service (think cloud computing) like we’re currently doing with Web mail.

2. Most handheld devices will have a built-in video camera that can wirelessly stream real-time video and record/post it to your website, home TV, or social media profile (Facebook/MySpace) as we can currently do with our cell phone pictures.

3. We’ll also be able to take that same real-time video stream and send it directly to one person or a select group of people, like we currently do with text messages.
4. I think we’ll be able to do most of our video editing directly on our camera or handheld device without having to load it onto a dedicated computer first.

5. Even though people have been predicting it for years, I think mobile video will finally become commonplace and accepted by the masses in the next few years. It seems that every major new handheld device has video playback (both streaming and recorded) as a major component of its feature set.

6. I believe that my friend Philip Hodgetts is right when he states that video will become just another form of literacy in the near future:

7. I think creating multimedia presentations with video will be as routine for students in the future as typing on a computer keyboard is today.

I believe the ability to keyword search a video file to playback a specific word or phrase will be as common as using Google to search for a specific word or phrase on a website.

9. I think after spending hundreds of millions of dollars, companies will finally stop building “destination video sites” to show and share their content and will realize that they need to go to the people rather than expect the people to come to them. All of my work and research for my clients the last 18 months has shown me that syndicating and distributing content to as many places as possible, to be seen by as many people as possible, is the best way to go for most situations.

10. I believe that there’s a teenager today with an idea that he’ll ponder and work on for the next 15 years that will absolutely revolutionize digital video in a manner that I can’t even fathom.

Well that’s a quick look at the past and the future of digital video. As for the present—this is my last “DVS” column in Layers magazine. It’s been an honor and a privilege to appear in every single issue printed in the last 15 years and to work with so many gifted writers, editors, and designers during that time. I want to specifically thank Scott Kelby for the opportunity and support, Chris Main for the brainstorming and excellent technical editing, and Felix Nelson and his team for all of the great design that they have given me and my columns throughout these many years. I’ll still be doing reviews and special assignments for Layers, but you can read any new articles (as well as old archives) at and join in the conversation on my blog at I hope to hear from you there!