AP: Japan Tsunami ‘One of the most recorded disasters ever to be captured on film’

By Alex Weprin 

The images coming out of Japan are some of the most compelling ever to be seen on the television news programs. The AP’s David Bauder examines the impact of those images, as well as the cause:

Until a week ago, a tsunami was one of the most mysterious of natural events, its devastating power usually evident only in the aftermath. Yet from the first moments the earth started to shudder on March 11, Japan’s tsunami was one of the most recorded disasters ever to be captured on film, lending a visual power to story-telling unmatched since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago…

But as dramatic as the earthquake images were, the tsunami video — some of it live — was breathtaking. A handful of tourists captured the Indonesian tsunami in 2004, but there was much less variety and inferior film quality. Technology — particularly cell-phone cameras — was not what it has become today.

Japan, too, is unique — a nation that not only produces electronics but also focuses on technology, camera phones, handheld video and digital cameras. And it may also be the most well-wired country for recording such disasters. With its geologic history, seismic monitors and robotic cameras are mounted throughout the archipelago.