Jim Epstein on How Cheap Cameras Changed the World



In 1995, a decade before the launch of YouTube, Sony released an unassuming digital video camera called the VX1000 with little fanfare. It cost $3,500—or about 1/30th the price of the standard camera used by television crews. At the time, executive producers and studio executives were the gatekeepers of the screen, thanks in part to the astoundingly expensive and technically cumbersome camera rigs and editing systems required to produce moving pictures. The idea that a single person could earn a living shooting video with a camera that cost less than a used car was absurd.

By eliminating the technical obstacles to filmmaking, notes Jim Epstein, new tools make creating a great movie as easy as writing a great book.