On my way back from a recent tourist outing with friends to ‘The Peak’ in Hong Kong, I stumbled upon a talented salesman of ‘Exclusive’ video sunglasses. The sunglasses looked liked regular sunglasses to me, but concealed an invisible video camera inside the frame. Of course, this cool gadget opened the door to my wildest fantasies about ‘point of view’ filmmaking, and in true Hong Kong style, I had to buy it right away (for about 200 Euro).
May I record your point of view, please?
Think about it! How many times in the past didn’t I wish that I could have filmed with my own eyes? The thought of having a hard disk inside my brain, a camera built into my forehead, and a USB stick protruding from one of my fingers has always been very appealing to me. Something that would come to the world inevitably, but maybe not in time for me to make good use of it.
Just imagine, if only we could record what we see when we see it, and then edit… Life would be so much easier and documentary films would be so much more interesting. In our films, we would be able to engage with life as it is happening in front of our very eyes, rather than with staged and uncomfortable reenactments of it.
Incredibly small cameras like MUVI (discussed earlier on this blog) already offer something quite close to the direct cinema ideal of the camera as a ‘fly-on-the-wall’, but a camera that is visibly attached to your forehead - no matter how small - still takes away some of the natural interaction. And mounting it on someone else’s forehead feels close to a medical procedure.
Video sunglasses promise that all this will be over and I can now just walk up to my subject and kindly ask: ‘Would you mind wearing these sunglasses today? I would like to get your point of view on this matter’. And a few hours later, I would be able to see the events of that day from my subject’s perspective on my screen. If that’s what technology can do for documentary film, it seems a very valuable contribution to me. After all, many problems in the world arise from the fact that we are not capable of see matters from ‘the other’ person’s perspective.
Well, so much for the potential, now the harsh reality. My first trial with the video sunglasses involved simply leaving my apartment, walking to the park across the street and playing soccer with my son. I will show and discuss the results tomorrow.