Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

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“It’s Not Rewind; It’s ‘Fast Backward'”

Nov 30 2011 by Brendan Shick Add Your Thoughts

Words often have an archaic usage. We still say we’re “filming” even when we shoot digital. The newscaster still says, “don’t touch that dial” despite the fact that the radio station is streaming only and the “dial” is actually a touchscreen on the listener’s Android phone.

One that caught my attention recently is the word “rewind.”

In this case, the word is not merely being used archaically; it’s starting to disappear entirely. It surprised me when I discovered that people not that much younger than myself don’t even recognize the word, let alone know what it means.

My household was a fairly late adopter of the DVD (my copy of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace [1999] is VHS).

I distinctly remember my parents renting VHS cassettes from the video store (another dying term) when I was a child. I remember having to rewind before returning them. I remember the separate rewinding machine to save wear and tear on the actual VHS player.

Graduating to the production world, you could also say I was a late adopter of solid state recording, despite my usual drive to try to use new technologies soon after their release. In fact, until the release of the Canon 7D a few years ago, I was a vehement supporter of tape-based workflows (primarily for archival purposes, although hard drives are cheap enough now that I don’t even see that benefit anymore).

Yet three years later, people are forgetting the word “rewind.”

It makes some sense. The “rewind” button on a DVD remote is labeled “fast backward.” DVDs have been commonplace for over a decade now. If you’re any younger than your late teens, you don’t remember anything else.

Even if your older friends and relatives refer to “fast backward” as “rewind,” it doesn’t matter. You mostly watch content on your computer, either stored locally or streamed over the internet. You’d never think about the need to rewind when you can just click-to-scrub to any point in a movie in a split second.

The very act of “rewinding” has gone away. Humanity’s consciousness of the term may be soon to follow.

Brendan Shick

Brendan Shick is a freelance DP, gaffer, and sports broadcaster serving primarily the Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Fort Wayne, IN, regions. You can find out more by following this blog, his recent work on Vimeo, or by connecting with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Brendan is also an occasional contributor to the Project Updates feed for one of his most recent films, To Turn Back Time.

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