My students want to do a short documentary about biking in Hong Kong and I recommended them to get this little camera (100 Euro) to tie to the head of the biker and get his point of view as an additional camera angle:
The Muvi is a pretty cool, very small and incredibly cheap camera with reasonable image quality. It represents a new step in the continuous development of ever smaller and lighter cameras, allowing for a growing range of viewpoints and camera angles in documentary films. Just as direct cinema came with the liberation of the camera from the tripod, one can easily imagine new cinematic styles with the availability of these cameras the size of a thumb. In the current global media society, however, the impact would be far beyond aesthetics.
For example, it’s now literally child’s play to record the world from a child’s perspective - or that of any moving object or subject - adding more points of view to the current scale. Imagine the possible impact of all those emerging voices (and eyes) taking the stage. Will children get voting rights because their points of view can no longer be ignored? Will the current fringe Party for Animal Rights rise to power as a result of the increased representation of pets’ points of view in the flow of media images?
This camera is marketed as a cool gadget for ‘extreme sports’ lovers, but I can imagine much more interesting applications for undercover journalists and NGOs. This little camera can handle a 8GB memory card, which records four hours of video and, even more surprising, it is voice activated. You could go into any workplace with it attached to your forehead, and it will start recording automatically whenever the boss starts yelling at you. Any kind of (loud) abuse could be registered on video this way and serve as instant proof in a court room, which is quite scary when you start to think about it. It is as if we would be carrying a personal security and surveillance system on our heads.
Back to storytelling. The films of Leonard Retel Helmrich come to mind as a more poetic catalog of unusual and immersive camera angles. With the handy cam, we could already film inside a refrigerator, but with the Muvi, we can film inside a bag and its successor may allow for filming inside the body… Personally, I would like to use this camera to make a short film from a child’s perspective, simply called ‘UM’, which is short for ‘unaccompanied minor’, a term used by airlines to refer to the countless children traveling the world in airplanes without their parents for various reasons.
Watch this review, which includes some sample footage. There are many more similar test videos out there. I will share my first trials later.