Tips to Clip: December 2011
A "gotcha" is an unexpected glitch that can cause major problems. Here are three you will want to know about.
Some DSLR cameras will record and play back clean video to their internal cards, but the live signal from the video out jack is a "dirty" feed with all the viewfinder graphics. The engineers at Nikon's help line tell me that although some can be turned off, there is no way to eliminate all the graphics during live video. Very embarrassing if you plan to use the feed for anything other than an auxiliary viewfinder.
Gotcha number two is really scary. It occurs when a long video recording is transferred from the CF card into your editing system, and you suddenly discover audio dropouts about every 20 minutes.
Some digital cards will separate a long recording into multiple files. When you drag and drop them into an editing system, an audio dropout appears between files. The truth is that all the audio is there, and the track appears seamless if transferred using the following method, suggested by Mike Fleming, creative director at West Coast Video Productions.
If you drag and drop the files onto your hard drive, they stay in their FAT32 format. When combined into one clip, they leave a small gap, missing a few frames at each FAT32 break. Transferring them via Sony Creative Software Vegas brings the files in as one clip that has no gap issues.
Sony also has a free download (NXCAM Content Management Utility) that they say will fix the problem. The rather long URL for the download is: http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-nxcamsite/resource.downloads.bbsccms-assets-micro-nxcam-downloads-NXCAMContentManagementUtility.shtml.
Some models of high-def video cameras lose their LCD viewfinder if you need to use some of the video signal outputs. A switch on the camera makes you choose the composite video out or the LCD screen. I should mention that the ocular viewfinder still displays a picture.
I was caught by this gotcha when I was asked to use a Sony HVR-S270U rigged with a long lens and rear-mounted zoom and focus to feed a composite signal to an I-MAG projector. It seems the video card does not have enough power to supply both.
Of course, the cure for all of these gotchas is to assume nothing and test the setup thoroughly before the shoot. Now it's your turn to save a colleague. Send your favorite gotcha to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some videographers like to improve the quality of their recorded sound by substituting a higher-quality microphone for the one that came with the camera. Their problem is that many of the high-end microphones with narrow-beam pickup are too skinny to be properly held by the camera's mount. They usually must be "fattened up" by wrapping them with tape.
Scott Houck of the Metropolitan State College of Denver has another solution, which looks more professional, provides a measure of isolation from the camera's mechanical vibration and doesn't leave glue on the expensive mic.
Put an appropriate size piece of tubular foam of the type used to insulate water pipes around the mic. I made the foam in the picture fit by cutting it lengthwise, then trimming off the edges of the cut until the foam fit tightly around the microphone's circumference.
Better Battery Recycling
Last month I shared how we are donating partially used batteries to local battered women's shelters, where they are used to power kids toys. Several of you guys e-mailed that you wanted to do the same thing and found it was not as easy as you thought to make the first contact. The folks we work with suggest that you have your wife or a female employee make that first contact. Shelter staffers are wary of any man they don't know. You could be an angry husband looking for his wife.