Tips to Clip: December 2012

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Practical Pouch
Attaching a small business card holder to the side of his camera means Peter Anderson of Detroit always has business cards handy and no longer misses spur of the moment business opportunities.

Because my camera is not always with me, I think I have a more functional tip for solving the same problem.

For many years I have kept my cards and other useful items handy in a clear plastic shirt pocket protector. My pocket pouch contains a laser pointer, a retractable Sharpie, a small reversible Phillips/flat head screwdriver, a ball point pen and a AAA LED flashlight. Behind them, and fitting perfectly, are three or four 3x5-inch index cards (handy for white balance, taking notes or slating an interview with the subject’s properly spelled name and title) and a supply of business cards. Note that the business cards are kept clean and flat between the 3x5s and the back of the protector.

Now that I have shared the tip, I must tell you that the pocket protectors are very difficult to find in most office supply stores, but they are available on eBay (search for clear plastic pocket protector).

Hood Hints
The sun can be your friend or enemy on an outdoor shoot. Here are several ways to make it more friendly.

A good monitor is very important to any shoot, but it is useless if the screen is washed out by sunlight. Production manager Mark Hodges of Augusta, Ga., used scrap pieces of black foam core to put together the makeshift hood in the photo. You can do the same with pieces of a cardboard box or Rosco Matte Black Cinefoil. In any case, the cost is minimal.
Note that the hood is set at an angle to the screen face. When you look into the hood, you will see the video image and not a reflection of your face.

On one shoot when no hood was available, I improvised by placing a large trash can on its side and putting the monitor in the bottom.

Car Interview Tips
A lot of producers like the idea of interviewing people while they are driving a car. If you expose for the subject, the background will usually be blown out. If you expose for the background, the subject will be in silhouette.

To lower the contrast, check the background. See if it’s possible to arrange your shot so you are shooting against the shady side of any buildings or other objects.

You can further improve the situation by stretching a piece of Rosco Cinegel Cinescreen over the side window. This loose-weave black cloth acts something like a window screen. It usually is not noticeable in your video and will cut down the background brightness by two stops.

Check the road on which you will be driving. Is one lane less bumpy than the other? You can also smooth the ride by letting some air out of the tires.

Closing the window will usually greatly improve the sound quality, but watch out for unwanted reflections in the glass.

Note that it is much safer to hire a tow truck to pull the car so your subject won’t be distracted by driving and can concentrate on the interview.

Wireless Eavesdropping
THE PROBLEM: The talent is using a wireless microphone at a considerable distance from the camera and several members of the crew need to hear what is being said.

THE TIP: In some cases you may find inexpensive scanners or TV audio receivers can pick up the wireless microphone signal. If that doesn’t work, you might try feeding the audio mixer’s output into one of the many small transmitters made for sending home theater audio to wireless earphones.

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