Businesspeople who have not yet looked at the Pure Digital Flip line of HD micro-camcorders really should. The company's newest model, the UltraHD, makes it even easier and less expensive to shoot high-quality video to illustrate products and projects.
Use the built-in software to post the video to YouTube and you can shoot a short video and get it posted very quickly. This makes it easy to share informal videos with employees, coworkers, customers, and the world at-large using YouTube, a company Web site, e-mail, or some combination of tools.
I have been using a Flip Mino HD in some of my volunteer work for two months. I have used it to document events for use in future training, to show off a pair of injured kittens our rescue group is bottle-feeding, demonstrate a workshop project we built, and collect a series of "this is what it looked like" videos that will be interesting to watch in the future.
You can see the collection on YouTube. These informal videos will not seem like anything special to most people, but they matter to someone and that is the point.
Every business has demonstrations, presentations, and other events that would be worth recording if only it were easy to do so. The Flip solves this problem.
Sure, I have had a camcorder for a long time and I never used it. The form factor and the difficulty of shooting the video, moving it to the Mac, editing, and posting all made it "not worth the bother."
The Flip, meanwhile, is an iPod-sized device that is easy to operate and plugs directly into a USB port for downloading and charging. The device carries its own editing and posting software, making it easy to get the videos posted where people can see them.
Because it was so easy to use and carry, I found myself pulling out the Flip whenever I had something I wanted people to see later on. Video is more effective than still photos for this purpose, though there are times when using a still makes the most sense. The stills are better for high-quality illustrations of non-moving objects, or when you need a moving object to stop for examination.
This is one of those cases where a new, easier-to-use tool make something that was previously possible actually fun and attractive to do. The small size of the device and its iPod-like form factor makes the Flip unobtrusive to use. People do not react to it they way they do to a traditional video camera.
Handholding the Flip works fine, provided you have a steady hand and practice a bit. Your videos will not be as steady as a professional production, but if you keep them short, they will not make your audience motion sick, either.
The one thing I do not like about the Flip software is that there is no way to upload a movie to YouTube (or wherever) without also including the sound. Most of my videos lack a meaningful soundtrack and I wish it were easier to make a distracting soundtrack disappear.
There are a variety of Flip models, priced in the $150 to $230 range; the newest models are priced at $150 and $180. The model I use is $230.
The Flip is the first "must carry" addition to my briefcase in quite a while. It is always nice to be able to record what I witness and share it with others.