‘Examining our relationship with mics and cameras in the digital age’ by Jadwiga Busby

In this day and age, our everyday lives revolve almost entirely around the digital world. Whether for study, work, or entertainment, we are constantly seeking content online. We Are Social reports that nearly 60% of the world’s population had an online presence in 2020 — among those are creatives seeking avenues for their work to be seen, and audiences waiting to be fascinated by the latest innovations in technology and art. Of course, these numbers were driven by the pandemic, which left us with no choice but to connect through unconventional means. However, our shift into the digital world has long been in the making.

The Ever-Evolving Content Creator

With the rise of various social media platforms, content creation is now more accessible than ever before — and thanks to the advancements in cameras and microphones, technology has become a key factor in the creation of quality art. Producing is no longer gatekept to those with Hollywood-level budgets. Anyone can post their work online if they have enough drive.

Beauty YouTuber and entrepreneur Michelle Phan started out with nothing but a web camera in the early days of Youtube. Shifting from solely makeup tutorials to blending beauty and fashion in features with upgraded cinematic quality, Phan has transformed through the years, alongside the platform and the swell of creators wanting to make a name for themselves. Now, you can find a channel dedicated to almost anything you can think of. In a very meta way, Potato Jet’s channel is dedicated to videos on videography. Ironically, it’s the cheaper gear that gets him the most excited — he features heavyweight professional cameras and phone cameras alike, and he uses these to peek into the filmmaking processes and the industry

Meanwhile, the short-form, vertical video popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years, and content creators have scrambled to conform to the trend. For instance, fashion YouTube channels The Lineup and To The 9s had smooth transitions into the TikTok platform. The app also made way for artists who were hesitant with setting up video channels before, as its filming process is much quicker. You only really need a smartphone’s camera and mic to be part of the community. Hallie Tut on TikTok, however, utilizes ingenuity and skill to combine film and the short-form video — sort of like the best of both worlds. Her content is mostly made up of explainers on how she shoots and edits, but the process and end product never falls short of amazing.

Combining the Traditional and Modern

With the pandemic closing up traditional theatres and live event venues, cameras and microphones have kept performers on their feet. Variety highlights how the situation has developed the new genre of theatre and Broadway — organizations are now exploring its digital potential, and are working with technology to bring theatre closer to homes. In the same way, live streaming on online concerts and platforms such as Twitch has aided musicians. Danielle Allard, a regular music streamer on said website, is armed with an AT2020 and her many instruments — this allows her to grant an enjoyable listening experience to her audience.

Creators also constantly upgrade their gear and rely on online sources to continue improving their craft. Shout4Music blog lists some of the ideal audio recording devices for podcasters, live streamers, and musicians, while resources such as Canva and Adobe Education Exchange provide informative articles as well as short learning courses. As it continues to grow, the content creation community also grows more competitive. Content is, in a way, mass-produced for audiences. However, is it possible that a steady consumption of media is affecting how we perceive good quality content?

What Makes Good Content Good?

It’s possible to access an endless stream of videos around the globe. From lifestyle, music, sports, platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and IGTV can show you anything you’re interested in. However, many argue that fast-paced content creation decreases our ability to gauge what’s good and what’s not. Producing and consuming too much content in a short amount of time is a controversial matter especially to those supporting more traditional media and those from scientific standpoints. Elite Daily explored a study showing how too much TikTok can shorten attention spans and fluctuate neurotransmitter levels in the brain, as it incites different emotions in a matter of seconds. This instigates a sort of addiction, much like the fleeting validation most people feel from social media; a viral video or a well-liked photo keeps you coming back for more.

In the end, everything is subject to taste — and regardless of the platform, content creation is here to stay. You might even already be part of it, whether you know it or not, as creativity also comes in other forms; some prefer to curate Instagram feeds, while others create consistent media posts for their business. With a mic and camera, the possibilities are endless. or even if you just look what others do; after all, consuming others’ art and content is also a great way to figure out your personal style.

Text by Jadwiga Busby

26 Sep 2021