Tips to Clip: October 2012
The holidays are coming around again, which is a great time to pick up seasonal goodies that can be squirreled away for future video projects. Costumes, makeup and special effects such as spider web material and glow-in-the-dark paint are all available in stores this month. For extra savings, buy them during the after-Halloween sales.
This tip is a good example of how handy those squirreled-away items can be. The other night I was helping organize the rehearsal for an industry awards ceremony. The presenters were to enter through an opening in the upstage pipe-and-drape curtain. During the first run-through there was considerable beating at the curtain as they tried to find the opening in the dark. Because the drape was in four-foot segments, many of them found the wrong opening and walked into a piece of scenery, or at least confused the camera and spotlight operators by appearing in the wrong place.
I remedied the situation with an old string of Christmas lights and some white tape. I placed the tree lights to form a path on the floor leading to the correct opening, which was bordered on both sides by tape arrows stuck to the drape and pointing to the entrance. Problem solved.
If you travel as much as I do, you know about the dark domain of the airline baggage manglers. Try these tips on your next trip. They might increase the chances that you’ll see your gear again.
• Mark each case with your name and cell phone number. Don’t use your company name—no sense in telling everyone that there is valuable video equipment inside. Don’t use your office phone number because you want the airline to be able to reach you on the road. A paper with the same information inside the case is also a good idea.
• Don’t ship anything in the original cardboard carton if it has the manufacturer’s name on the outside. (Once again, it shouts, “Steal me!”)
• I disguise some of my fancy equipment cases by putting them inside old suitcases bought from Goodwill.
• Assign a number to each case. Describe what the case looks like and its contents, and keep this list it with you. Then if one goes missing, you can provide an accurate description in addition to the tag number. There can be hundreds of similar bags on each plane. If the airline folks know exactly what they are looking for, they are much more likely to find it.
Get Your Body Into It
A request for tips about hand-holding a video camera comes from Fred Vallejo of Salt Lake City. For an interview or other non-moving shot, I always try to lean against something that is steadier than I am—that could be anything from a monopod to a wall to a parking meter. I will tuck my right elbow into my rib cage and hold my forearm as vertical as possible. That way the camera is supported by bones rather than muscles. Depending on your physical condition, muscles under tension can start to quiver as the shot progresses.
When you are hand-holding a pan shot, move from a tense position to a resting one if possible. For instance, if you’re going to be twisting in a slow pan as a subject approaches and then passes you, plant your feet in the ending direction, twist at the start of the shot and then unwind so you’ll end in a natural position. This way, if you need to hold the shot for several seconds (which is more likely at the end of the shot then at the beginning), you won’t be under stress.
A Slice Off the End, Please
Often we find ourselves making video of meetings and events held in hotels or other facilities in which large spaces have been divided into smaller rooms by folding walls. These walls may be billed as soundproof, but they usually leak like sieves.
If you have a chance, try to get the organizers to ask for a spot on the end. You’ll have one fewer leaky wall, and you may get more electrical outlets on the hard wall.