In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Video

  • Introduction
  • Journals and Magazines
  • History of the Medium
  • Video Formats, Recording, and Storage Systems
  • Independent Non-Mainstream Video
  • Films about Video
  • Media Criticism and Aesthetics

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Communication Video
Karen Ritzenhoff
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0149


The global media landscape is transforming quickly thanks to the digital revolution that has phased out taped-based electronic devices, commonly known as the video tape. Therefore the term “video” encompasses two technologies that are gateways to contemporary participatory culture: analog-based magnetic tape and digital-based imagery using storage media ranging from optical discs to flash drives. Analog tape prepared the way for the current explosion of consumer use of video (Greenberg 2008, cited under Media Industry and Video). The global basis of the new participatory culture is most visible in YouTube as a video-sharing site where both amateur consumers and professional producers can post and view visual images digitally for free. According to John V. Pavlik and Shawn McIntosh’s Converging Media (4th ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), the hit song by South Korean pop star Psy had 1 billion views by December 2012. Digital distribution is relevant for music, news, advertising and visual culture in general. The recording, copying, editing and broadcasting of video are accessible to the everyday consumer. While technology is becoming increasingly affordable to everyday customers, editing software is comparatively cheap and “prosumer” friendly, and the price of a basic nonlinear editing station has plummeted over the past ten years. When video started its ascent as a technological innovation in the 1970s, it quickly became a revolutionary way of distributing content worldwide. It changed the way visual images were screened to a global audience, especially during playback. Video recorders offered audiences the opportunity to watch movies in their own homes, preceding the revolution of individualized and selective media consumption in global TV/film culture. Distribution patterns in the movie industry changed as video became the preferred method for home viewing of movies and video revenues boosted studio earnings tremendously. While video recorders and videotapes are outdated as a medium, the term is still used to describe both analog and digital technologies. Video streaming is part of media convergence and the changed technological landscape of the internet. Access to online video distribution systems such as Netflix or Amazon have eliminated the traditional neighborhood video store such as Blockbuster from the home market.

General Overviews

Literature about video as a unique medium is difficult to find. Surveys about video production and television production with video camcorders are widely spread, especially for college and lay audiences. The leading, classic textbooks in the field of television production have been written by Herbert Zettl. He directs his handbooks to entry level (Zettl 2012a, cited under Video Production) and advanced video production (Zettl 2012b, cited under Video Production). One of Zettl’s most successful textbooks is Sight, Sound, Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics (Zettl 2010, cited under Video Production). He discusses framing/composition, the use of light and camera movements to train directors in more sophisticated and informed production skills. Other textbooks for undergraduate students have tried to break the monopoly on Zettl’s textbooks. Among them are Compesi and Gomez 2006; Lancaster 2012a; Owens and Millerson 2012; and Shook, et al. 2013 (all cited under Video Production). Others include Lorene M Wales’s The Complete Guide to Film and Digital Production: The People and the Process (rev. ed., Boston: Pearson, 2012) and Ron Wittaker’s Video Field Production (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1996).

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