Tips to Clip: June 2012
It seems that almost every day I receive an ad or e-mail touting the latest slider, dolly or other method of trucking (moving) the camera during a shot. Most of them are very nice but also very expensive. Over my almost 50 years of making pictures I have used a number of methods to do the job, and most of them were free.
Perhaps my earliest traveling shot was made in a hospital by simply sitting in a wheelchair and having someone push me. Because my point of view was that of someone sitting down, I raised the camera by sitting on a board placed across the armrests. It doesn’t work quite as well, but I have also held a camera while being pushed on a gurney.
Another time the producer wanted a very low shot moving along the aisle of a toy shop, so I laid down on a skateboard while someone pushed my feet. In a grocery store the camera was mounted in a shopping cart, and at the airport it was a flatbed luggage cart. You can even put one of the new small DSLR cameras on a roller skate or in a radio-controlled toy helicopter, car or truck.
The secret is to use your imagination and adapt whatever is available to suit your need.
Zapping Audio Zaps
The Problem – A power mismatch in the building’s electrical wiring is causing sparks and a significant hum when you try to accept a line-level audio feed from the house public address system. A normal isolation transformer has failed to clear up the problem.
The Tip – In this emergency, you can break the direct electrical connection between the two systems by feeding the incoming signal to the battery-powered transmitter of your wireless microphone. Then feed your audio system from the wireless receiver. Your wireless may require a line-microphone level transformer to get the signal into the transmitter.
Is your lens cap tethered to the camera by a “keeper” string? Does it have an annoying tendency to fly in front of the lens on windy days, spoiling your shots? This tip was one of the first I published 30 years ago (that’s an Ikegami HL-79 camera in the picture), but it still works, as attested to by its resubmission this week by Videographer Darlene Henthorn of Kingsford, Mich.
She reminds us that you can keep your cap under control by gluing a round piece of Velcro or other hook-and-loop fastener to the front of the cap. Attach the matching fastener patch to an out-of-the-way location on your camera. Your lens cap now has a secure home and the flying saucer is effectively grounded. This is a good idea even if your cap doesn’t have a tether. The home base will keep it from getting lost.
Light Stand Case
You’ll find transporting your light stands much easier if you put them in this handy homemade carrier suggested by Producer Carlos Romero of Marietta, Ga. He built it from a piece of 8” diameter PVC pipe and two end caps.
Cut the pipe two inches longer than your collapsed stands. Stuff a piece of foam padding into each end cap and glue one cap to the pipe. The other cap can be held in place by a strap or strip of hook-and-loop fastener. Various types of handles, available in hardware stores, can be attached at the center of gravity.
If you are always losing the feet on your Gitzo tripod, this tip from Cameraman Sam Anderson of Boston, Mass., may help. Sam writes that wrapping the threads of the feet with plumber’s tape before screwing them into the tripod will keep the feet from coming loose. The same tape also works on microphone stand threads to keep them secure.