It’s been brought to my attention I don’t always explain the dorky terms I use. Thus, the first of many entries from the Viewfinder BLUES User's Guide, in which I cover the fundamentals - without ever getting too technical...
Fancycam [fān'sē kām] (N.) Origin: Me
Be it a gleaming new Sony XD or a war-torn TK-76, the shoulder mounted, manually adjusted, high-end visual recording device of its day. Heavy of glass, festooned with logos (often layers) and smelling of the open road, this living instrument can capture grief, dispense inanity or kick-start a riot - depending on which buttons you push. While early models came with matching saddle bags filled with recording decks and life support equipment, the modern day fancycam is a highly-cradled single-piece unit, featuring tiny flip-out screens and burdened only by shiny decals and a faint odor of house fire. Lens throw and light requirement varies wildly between makes and models, but the potency of any TV lens is vastly extrapolated when coupled with its intrinsic and underrated mate, the tripod (see sticks, legs, the gimp). When properly connected with attended live truck, the fancycam can put entire regions to sleep with meandering noon talkbacks or hold the globe riveted - should Osama, Britney or Bigfoot show up.
Fancycam VS. Film camera
Unlike the film camera, the vastly different image acquirer requiring support personnel dressed in Goth clothing and some form of craft services, the TV news fancycam is operated by sole caretaker, while usually owned by faceless corporate entity. Formats differ; some models slather images on creaky videotape while others arrange data on optical disc. Regardless of recording platform, neither model will survive unplanned drops followed by sudden stops, news units in reverse or any and all salt-water immersions.
Access and Acquisition
As noted earlier, most fancycams are owned by broadcast outlets - yet loved, cared for and coveted by lower level employees of said affiliates. This symbiotic arrangement - unique to TV stations - results in these expensive devices being left in the sole care of staffers whose annual salaries seem paltry by comparison. Admirably, very few fancycams are ever lost or maligned, as those who cradle them from one unlikely locale to the next do so because of the unthinkable access provided to them in the process. In short, a logo’d lens on the shoulder can open most any door, deter fugitives and erase the occasional bar tab.
Long Term Exposure
There is a downside. Long term exposure to the working end of a fancycam can throw more than your back out of whack. A one inch screen pressed to your face can also skew your perspective, especially when walking backwards for extensive periods of time. Unprotected encounters with logo’d lenses can imbue the operator with a false sense of bravado, leaving them with the mistaken impression they’ve seen it all - when in fact they’ve simply mastered the groundbreaking, ride-along and hall of justice scrum. An additional danger: because of personality types found around such lenses (felons, politicians, weekend anchors) camera personnel often assumes everyone is crazy. See also Asshole Magnet.