Switching Tall Ones
A short length of AC cable with a male connector on one end, a female on the other and a switch in the middle can be used to control a lighting instrument whose switch is out of reach.
Picture Perfect Placement
Here is another use for the camera on your cell phone. Sometimes we need to remove or relocate items in a room before we begin shooting. Making sure everything gets back where it belongs can be the difference between a happy client who will allow us to use the location again and one who will not.
First, before you move anything, take a few cell phone photos so you will be able to put everything back where it started. Second, tape any wall hooks or hangers to the back of their pictures or certificates so they won’t get lost.
Low Light Stand
Need a short light stand? Place the instrument on a microphone table stand and put the stand on the floor. For more flexibility, you might try using a boom-type microphone stand.
The barrel of a standard microphone stand is the same size (5/8-inch) as the socket on most lighting instruments. Just be careful you don’t mess up the threads. Our thanks and a Tipster Tool Tote go to Chicago producer Ted Raden for sending in that idea.
Day for Night
A “day-for-night” shot is one that is supposed to take place in the dark of night but is shot during daylight. To get the best looking day-for-night shots, Alex Ksiden of Bryant, Ark., suggests:
1. The sun should backlight the subject.
2. It is best to avoid showing the sky, if possible. If the sky must show, you may be able to darken it by using a polarizing filter.
3. Turn off the automatic white balance and set the camera for “indoor light” (3,200° K). This will give the picture a blue, “moonlight” cast.
4. Underexpose by about 1.5 to 3 stops. Check your monitor.
Long Talking Head
A lengthy talking head shot can get boring very quickly, so we usually add interest by covering part of it with B-roll (images of whatever the talent is talking about) or switching between multiple camera shots of the talent.
Joe Smith (name changed to protect his job) has only one camera and frequently records very long-winded executives. His solution takes advantage of the facts that the background drape is nondescript and that the legal department insists that everyone speak from a teleprompter.
Joe marks the script as if he were shooting with two cameras; then, instead of moving the camera and relighting, he simply turns the talent and zooms in or out a little.
The talent reads the last line of a section to camera, then turns left or right to the nonexistent camera 2. Recording is stopped. Talent then turns his body slightly left to face the now nonexistent camera 1, rereads the last line, then turns to the camera and continues reading.
An edit during the head turn makes the finished product look as if two cameras were being used.
This technique can also be a handy patch when the talent blows a line.
The Problem: You are shooting through the windows of a moving car on a cold winter day. The glass keeps fogging up but you can’t open the window.
The Tip: If possible, turn on both the heater and air conditioner. This will pump warm, dry air into the vehicle. In most cases, this will clear all the windows much faster than the car’s defroster, which works only on the windshield.