TikTok don't stop.
In February this year Canon launched their latest typically dull but worthy value-end of the market DSLR the 850D. Like most DSLR launches at this stage in the product cycle and at this place in the market new features are incremental, evolutionary rather than revolutionary. A few more AF points possibly? An extra picture profile perhaps? Some extra megapixels maybe? So far so predictable. But as I was running my eye down the spec sheet I noticed one strange anomoly... DSLRs have been able to shoot video since around 2008, when a record function was added to the live view on a Nikon D90, although it was Canon who picked up the ball and ran with it, with the 5D mark ii. The video quality has got better, more frame rates, slo-mo, more resolution etc, but the 850D's new trick was to shoot vertical video.. portrait mode.. the kind we moan at when we see it on the news.. that somebody has captured of a drunk footballer
doing something seedy, that kind of thing... “Turn your phone to landscape!” we shout. Or I do at least. My wife shouts “Shut up I'm trying to watch this!” So why have Canon introduced this feature that screams amateur? Two words. Or two syllables. I'm not sure. TikTok. You'll have heard young people talk about TikTok. It's becoming a verb. It'll be in the dictionary soon. TikTok is a video platform filled with short clips. There is a cap of 60 seconds, but 9-15s are recommened. Clips are often lip-synched to samples, political sound-bites, pop songs, a silly quote. Clips are short. Punchy. If you don't like this one there will be another on along in a few seconds. And another one. And another one. Some are excellent. Short form sketches. Sharp. In the zeitgeist. There is talent there. A lot of creativity. Who needs art direction, cinematography, colourists, dub mixers? It's DIY. It's like the best bits from Limmy's Show, from 'The Adam and Joe show' even. It's ironic, aware. All are vertical aspect. Not 16:9 but 9:16. Why? Maybe to mark it out as distinct from Youtube. Maybe as a response to how most young people shoot their video, and the devices they use (that is, badly, and on their smartphones) and now the influence of TikTok means that the worlds biggest camera company is creating new camera features to accomadate users.
It's not a bad idea and might sell them a few more cameras.. if you wanted to shoot anything with any kind of production value (say for advertising or coroporate accounts) before you would had to have used L brackets or magic-arms to turn your camera on it's side somehow.. Canons new camera lets you do it with a menu setting and you can use your tripod and gimbals as normal... very smart move. Quite how fully the platform will be monetised remains to be seen, it has 800million active users as at the time of writing, which is more than Linkydin, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter. It's the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store, and 41% of it's users are aged between 16 & 24 years old, and this age group engages with the app more than they do with other platforms.. it's not a passive experience in the way Youtube often is.. it's for creators.
I'm early 40s, and so a lot of it is not really for me. A lot of the cultural references go right over my head.
I feel like a dad in a fair isle jumper picking up the hip teenager from the school disco in the cappacino beige Octavia estate.
I can't write it off though.
As a content producer myself it's important for me to acknowledge and understand it. Artistically. Contextually. Socially. Technically. I might be asked to make an ad or clip that is placed on it, for example. It's a strange and evolving world sometimes. The last 6 weeks have brought that home more than anything. Oh and top tip..don't buy yourself an 850D just yet. Put some tracing paper over your LCD and mark out a vertical crop instead.