The other night I was playing with an old Sony HDV camera that I own. I had completely forgotten that it is a so called ‘night vision camcorder’ – in other words it can see in the dark. The way this actually works is that the camcorder has a small infrared light that is beamed at the subject – in this case me.
Because of the limits of this infrared flashlight as it were, you can’t get too far away from the light source. This is perfect if you are using it to video blog or video journal but something to keep in mind if you want to record something at night that occurs at a distance from the camera itself. These aren’t military grade passive infrared units! That is a whole different system. Military units (and high-end night vision goggles) use a photocathode tube that amplifies available light up to 50,000 times. They don’t need to beam infrared light, they magnify the light that is already there.
My night vision camera only works in monochrome mode so it’s kind of eerie looking (ever see the Blair Witch Project?). There is also a Super NightShot mode that adds a bit of color but slows the frame rate down to a ridiculous degree. Maybe it would be good for a special effect but it didn’t work for me.
But the night shot was cool. Here I was sitting in pitch darkness making a video entry and then when I played it back, I could see myself perfectly clearly (though with the above-mentioned Halloween factor). Hey, if you are at all camera shy I can’t think of a more comforting way to work!:)
Why would you want to shoot your video blog or video journal with night vision?
First, let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that you rush out and buy a night vision capable camera. Unless you already own one or plan some other use for a night vision camera it’s likely not worth it. For most people the novelty of making a video entry in the dark will remain that – a novelty. But if you are feeling a bit stuck in your video blogging process and are looking for something to dislodge creativity, making a Midnight entry under the covers might do the trick.
Did you ever stay up late with a flashlight and a book under the covers when you were a kid? It has that cool, secret fun feeling to it. Or if you are someone who gets nervous when you sit in front of a video camera (and you already have a night vision model) give this a try. It just might be the breakthrough that you seek.
Video soon! In the meantime have fun and feel free to post yours.