Handheld Video Cameras
Handheld video cameras are a near-ubiquitous item in New Eden, allowing virtually anyone to record a scene and stream it onto computers and vid screens across the cluster through GalNet. A variety of models exist, from cheaply made units with poor resolution to high quality models that see use among professionals.
Video cameras have existed for thousands of years. The earliest models utilized archaic technologies such as photosensitive film which required subsequent chemical development or magnetic tapes. Though still used by a few devoted enthusiasts, film technology was only popular for about a century. Once high-quality digital capture and storage was developed, film fell by the wayside except for specialist uses and steadily declined as digital technology matched and eventually surpassed the quality obtainable by physical media.
Handheld video cameras have been popular with consumers since they were first introduced. Lightweight, portable, and easy to use, they allowed families to record precious moments, amateur directors to shoot their own cheap movies, and the spontaneous capturing of important events. Even professionals found use for them; some directors utilized them to evoke "gritty" or "realistic" first-person experiences, investigative journalists were able to film subjects without the need for an intrusive camera crew, and law enforcement could take video of crime scenes at a moment's notice.
Three major innovations spurred the spread of the handheld video camera. The first was the move from physical media; freed from the burden of having to constantly carry around spare cassettes or disks, consumers were able to record virtually any event they wanted quickly and then later transfer it to a computer for permanent storage. The second was miniaturization, as the cameras became smaller and less bulky, able to fit into a pocket or inconspicuous handbag while still being capable of taking high-quality video. This meant that the cameras could be carried around regularly, as opposed to only when special events were expected to occur. Finally, permanent wireless access to digital networks such as the ancestors of GalNet gave users the ability to stream video as it was recorded to potentially millions of viewers.
Today, a person is as likely to own some sort of handheld video camera as not. The cheapest models are only capable of poor-resolution video and sound quality, with limited storage and broadcast capabilities. More expensive models are comparable in quality to professional movie cameras, with the ability to stream maximum quality sound and video to relays in real-time.
Most video cameras are fairly simplistic in design, featuring a lens, a microphone, a view screen, and a storage device. Cheaper models usually have a fixed lens with digital zoom only, with a microphone that does little to squelch background noise, and enough storage to record only a few hours of high-resolution video. These models are mostly popular with the lower classes and young people, who may use them for a variety of mundane and potentially inane applications.
High-end models have adjustable lenses, with some even having the capability to swap between a variety of different lenses for additional control. Their microphones are capable of clearly picking up a nearby speaker against even extreme background noise, or pinpointing a certain sound source across a noisy room. They often have entangled particles, giving them direct connections to fluid routers for real-time broadcasting. The extra equipment makes them somewhat more bulky than cheaper models, though for sufficient money, even the smallest cameras can possess spectacular capabilities.
Variations and Modifications
Numerous different specialized types of video cameras exist. They can vary from the high-tech to fairly low-tech do-it-yourself styles.
Eye cameras are cameras attuned to the user's vision. They automatically follow and focus on whatever the individual is looking at. They do not necessarily have to be at the location of the user; a person can plant an eye camera several meters or more away. By tying the eye camera to a handheld monitor or even goggles, the user can get a view of several different angles in real time.
Thought-controlled cameras enable a handheld camera to become hands free. While still small and portable, the cameras can be mounted on a tripod, placed on a flat surface, or even attached to mounting and used without direct interaction from the user. Some models require implants to activate, but others simply use dermal patches that pick up electrical activity in the nervous system. These are typically less precise than those using actual implants.
For those who wish a more visceral and chaotic experience, emotion-controlled cameras exist. These cameras are set to activate only when a person experiences certain emotions. These emotions can be of any sort; anger, excitement, passion, ennui, fear, mirth, even (for whatever reason) boredom. These cameras are somewhat more random than others and can be activated suddenly and unexpectedly. This is usually the point of using them, however, and they are widespread among Gallente sensates.
A rather unique phenomenon has arisen in the slums and ghettos of the Minmatar Republic. Owing to the ingenuity of the Minmatar, a number of homemade video cameras exist. Such cameras are often constructed from spare parts and schematics taken from GalNet feeds. They can vary wildly in appearance and functionality depending on the skill of the individual builder and the materials they have to work with. Some have exposed wires, mismatched lenses and mirrors, may lack eye pieces or viewscreens, and can have bodies composed of everything from cardboard boxes to cans to plastic toys to actual salvaged camera parts.
Most users utilize their handheld video cameras to record personal moments, such as parties, holiday gatherings, vacations, and family events. Many, particularly young people, have a proclivity for filming all manner of mundane events, including everything from meals to watching holovids to daily commutes. Some take pleasure in recording pranks, acts of slapstick violence, and other inane activities in an effort to create viral videos for consumption on GalNet.
Because of the ubiquity of video cameras, most events occurring in public places are likely to be recorded by some passerby. Some have contended that this has made public areas safer, as someone with a video camera could easily be recording any unusual behavior. Others have fretted over the loss of privacy that the prevalence of handheld video cameras has caused.
Many Amarr utilize the cameras to record religious sermons to be replayed and studied later. Small churches, especially those who cannot afford to make regular broadcasts, encourage their parishioners in this regard. Of course, there are some places where the Amarr have forbidden cameras, such as in highly sanctified sites such as the Tal-Romon Cathedral and the royal courts of the Heirs. This does not stop some from smuggling in cameras to record what they should not.
Law and Security
Law enforcement makes use of handheld video cameras extensively. Police utilize them to record crime scene investigations in order to avoid having the authenticity of evidence called into question. Investigators often take them on off-site interviews to accurately record the physical and vocal responses of interviewees. Patrol officers frequently utilize them even in mundane situations such as traffic stops in order to limit their own liability should something occur.
Some small cameras can be fitted with organic camouflage, morph fields, or even made to resemble inconspicuous bits of scenery. These can then be hidden in plain sight for use in security applications. Such uses are popular in areas where obvious cameras would be jarring or unsightly, such as Gallente tourist traps or Amarr religious institutions.
In the Gallente Federation, especially since the formation of the Black Eagles, rumors abound of secret agents dressed in plain clothes using ordinary cameras to record tourists and even common citizens. According to the rumors, these agents are ethnic Gallente, typically wear brightly colored shirts, short pants, sunglasses, and are recording seemingly random and uninteresting scenes for hours at a time. The rumors put these agents at space ports and popular locations across the Federation, even on lightly populated fringe areas. Their true purpose, if they actually exist, is unknown.
Handheld cameras are often utilized in corporate espionage. There is a continuous race between the makers of spy cameras to keep their cameras hidden and security forces to detect them. Spy cameras have become somewhat of a running joke in many Caldari research and development facilities, as they simultaneously develop new methods of concealing their spy cameras and the methods of detecting those same cameras.
More mundane spying is also utilized with the cameras. The Angel Cartel and Serpentis are notorious for secretly recording politicians and law enforcement officials in unsavory situations. The Guristas have, on several occasions, utilized cameras to spy on corporate security forces and strike when their guards are down.
Journalists, particularly investigative reporters, have long utilized handheld video cameras. Their small size and portability makes it easier to access areas or people that would usually be off-limits to the press. While the quality of such recordings cannot match a professional cameraman's, they are usually enough to get the job done. Paparazzi, of course, favor them for incessantly hounding the famous.