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Tips to Clip: April 2012

Pan Up, Tilt Left

There are few things more confusing to the members of a multi-camera video crew than a director who doesn’t quite know the language of the business. You don’t have to be an expert, just sound like one. So pan left, but get it right.

Here is a brief glossary of camera movements that may help the newbie:

  • Pan: The camera stays still and is twisted left or right.
  • Tilt: The camera stays still and is tipped up or down.
  • Dolly or truck: The camera is on some type of dolly or slider and is physically moved from one place to another during a shot.
  • Track: Basically the same as dolly or truck but usually implies keeping a moving subject in frame.
  • Boom Up/Down: The camera is on a jib or crane and is raised or lowered.
  • Ped Up/Down: The camera is on a studio-type pedestal and is raised or lowered.

Keep A Level Head
“This may seem very basic, but you can get some really weird images if you don’t keep your tripod head level,” writes Angie Mayford of Denver, Colo. If your setup bubble is not centered, the horizon will appear to tip as you pan back and forth. This is correctable in still photos and OK if you are looking for a special effect or are pretending to be on a boat, but it’s usually not a good thing.

What Light Through Yonder…
“I always put a piece of black electrical tape over the front red ‘rolling’ tally light on my camera,” writes videographer Mitchell Silvers of Portland, Ore. “Civilians seem to react less self-consciously when they can’t see the light. I can also roll sneaky if they happen to be very nervous and camera shy. Sometimes I get my best takes while I’m seemingly just hacking around, putting them at ease. I always tell them afterward if I intend to use a sneaky take, and I have never had anybody hesitate to say yes.”

Light on Its Feet
Many of us carry some type of multi-tool and a small flashlight whenever we are working. Here’s a tip that will make both of them much more useful. Wrap a rubber band around the handles of the multi-tool when it’s in the “pliers” configuration and it becomes a stand for the flashlight. The same trick turns the tool into a third hand that will hold small parts when I am trying to solder them. This rubber band tip also works with regular pliers, of course, but those aren’t normally on my belt.

Humming Along
Most of us have occasion to record a presenter who is using a public address system. When we have to attach our microphone to the PA mic or stand, there is always the possibility of creating a hum. To avoid allowing our mic to make electrical contract with the house system, we wrap it in nonconductive tape. However, be careful not to cover any of the sound ports on either microphone.

Also, because most people tend to get too close to the PA and overload the system, we try to mount our mic slightly behind house’s so it is guarded from people who are trying to “eat” it.

The Key Solution
“We were constantly misplacing suitcase and equipment case keys between trips,” shares Alex Rockforth of Detroit, Mich. “If we did manage to keep track of them, there was the hassle of trying to figure out which key went with which case.”

Alex solved the problem by attaching the keys to their respective case handles with rubber bands when the cases were stored following a trip. A small dab of paint on the key and lock tells him which key to use if they get mixed up. Of course, this problem could be avoided by having all the cases keyed alike.