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Holy schnikes, this HD footage from 1993 NYC looks like it was filmed today

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In the next decade, we as a culture will become, for the first time, nostalgic for a period captured in high-definition video. This HD, 60-frames-per-second footage taken in New York City in 1993 is a test run for grappling with the weirdness of that fact. If not for fashion of the time, the clip could be mistaken for an iPhone 6S clip. We don't have to guess what being in New York looked like in 1993; we can see it just as clearly as we would on social media today.

The video comes from YouTube Pedant, who guesses, "that this footage was shot with a HDVS camera- perhaps a Sony SONY HDC-500 attached to a HDV-10 portable recorder which recorded on UniHi 3/4" tape." That camera alone weighed 10 pounds.

1993 IRL

In the decades since, that 10-pound camera has been reduced to a component smaller than our pinky finger that fits inside our smartphones. That shrinkage of hardware combined with the arrival of websites that host said video has resulted in exponential growth of preserved high-definition footage.

Which is all to say that if I want to look back on my childhood in the 1980s, I will mostly turn to television and some grainy home videos. But my youngest co-workers, they will have HD video from the world of their childhoods. And my future co-workers, they will have detailed video of most moments of their lives, not simply big events.

The HD video (above) was produced for a demo in 1993, but the clip was pulled from a D-VHS tape from 2002 — when digital video was becoming more popular and commercially viable. A rival of DVD, D-VHS could hold 50GB of data — the same amount contained in a dual-layer Blu-ray disc. According to Techmoan on YouTube, the format even featured copy protection, a growing concern at the time with both DVDs and the internet.

That's fascinating, but not nearly as fascinating to me as the problem that undercuts these countless hours of HD footage that we'll one day want to reflect upon: how will we navigate all of it?


Hear New York in beautifully lifelike 3D audio