- "For the past few minutes, he [Marty] had busied himself setting up the video camera so that it could play back the tape he had taken on the Twin Pines Mall parking lot. Now he was ready to roll. / "Prepare yourself for a shock, Doc," he said as he hit the ON button. / A glitch was followed by the picture of Doc Brown's 1985 preamble to what he called temporal experiment number one. / "Who's that guy?" Doc Brown began. "Why, that's me! Look at me! I'm an old man! But I don't look too bad for an old geezer. Thank God I've still got my hair — baldness runs in my family, you know. Even some of the women. But what on earth am I wearing?" / "A radiation suit." / "Of course, because of all the fallout from the atomic wars." / "No, Doc. There were several close—" / "Never mind. Don't tell me. Sorry I got out of line there. If I'm gonna avoid learning things about the future, I shouldn't make provocative statements like that. But this is truly amazing — it's a portable television studio. I never imagined that..." "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 126)
- "This is truly amazing. A portable television studio. No wonder your president has to be an actor, he's gotta look good on television!"
- —Doc Brown observing the JVC camcorder in 1955
Doc called Marty McFly to go to his garage and pick up the camcorder — which he had forgotten — to bring to Twin Pines Mall on October 26. Marty documented the entire event and just before the Libyan terrorists attacked. Marty ran into the DeLorean time machine with the camcorder and transported it to 1955.
Once in 1955, Marty located Doc's younger counterpart and, having hooked the camcorder up to the television set in the garage, showed him the tape, which played back in black-and-white. Doc was amazed that such a small device could record what a much larger television studio could do at the time, referring to the camcorder as being "a portable television studio". Upon watching the video, Doc was at first horrified when he realized that they needed 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to power the flux capacitor.
On November 8, Doc was playing back the video when Marty interrupted him. Doc had been watching the sequence from 1985 that closed with his older self saying, "Oh my God, they found me. I don't know how, but they found me. Run for it, Marty!". From that point on, Marty tried to warn Doc about the Libyan terrorists, but Doc refused to listen on the grounds that "No man should know too much about his own destiny." As with other devices from the future, the camcorder was apparently put back into the DeLorean and sent back with Marty to the year 1985.
Both a JVC camcorder and a JVC television set appeared in the display window of the Blast from the Past antique store in 2015. A television screen in the Cafe 80's in 2015 that portrayed a Michael Jackson video simulacrum was a JVC. Furthermore, Marty McFly Jr.'s video glasses were of the JVC brand.
Behind the scenes
The camcorder used in the film is a JVC GR-C1. Released by JVC, the originator of VHS, it was the first camcorder to use the VHS system and the VHS-C (compact) cassettes.
A very popular camera in its time, the GR-C1 has since become a collector's item as a nostalgia piece and a Back to the Future prop.
It is unknown what eventually happened to the camcorder. After filming the experiment, Doc reminded Marty not to lose the tapes, so that proof of his invention would be kept safe in case anything happened to him. After Marty returned to 1985, Doc would have returned his truck and equipment (including the camcorder) to his house, and it is possible that Doc gave the videotape to Marty for safekeeping when he dropped him off at home before going to the future.
If he had left it in 1955, it is possible that Marty connected a time loop. Had Doc still possessed the camcorder by 1985, the second Marty would have likely been asked to retrieve it for the test, creating a predestination paradox. Doc could also have destroyed the first one and bought a replacement in the future, thus removing any paradox from the timeline.
On the other hand, if the camcorder and tape were kept in the DeLorean throughout their adventures, old Biff in 2015 could have watched it to learn how to operate the time machine.
In Back to the Future Part III, Doc's 1955 counterpart recorded the events of the night before on a reel-to-reel tape recorder — in which he mentioned his confusion in that he didn't remember coming home, but did remember seeing Marty after returning him to 1985. Presumably, along with his notebook and camera, the tape recorder was the medium Doc used to document his scientific experiments in the years prior to the invention — and his purchase — of the camcorder. The camera was used by Doc and Marty to document their excavation of the DeLorean time machine from the Delgado Mine, as well as taking the photograph of the tombstone in the Boot Hill Cemetery. Although it is never mentioned either on-screen or in the novelization, Doc presumably developed his own photographs (being a scientist, he would know how to do this) to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future: The Ride (Archive footage)
- Back to the Future: The Game