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Tips to Clip: August 2014

Cruise Coverage

I recently met a guy with probably the best job in our industry. Brian Thomas is the official videographer aboard Princess Cruise Lines’ Star Princess. He is responsible for making videos of the guests’ adventures wherever the ship sails and was nice enough to share a few tips that make his job easier.

When covering large events, like the guests forming a flash mob to sing in the ship’s plaza, he supplements his handheld camera footage with that from several GoPro cameras mounted in positions to give continuous wide shots. Later he will sync the footage on his editor’s timeline and cut back and forth as needed.

Leaning against a wall or post is a common way to steady your shot on land, but Brian warns that the method might not be such a good idea on a ship. The engine’s vibrations can sometimes make the situation worse.

If you plan to shoot through a window, put the lens as close as possible to the glass to make the dirt and spots of dried saltwater disappear by throwing them out of focus.

Quick Mic

You are shooting a quick interview one-man-band style. Carla Moffatt of Pittsburgh suggests that you can save time by clipping your lavalier microphone to the subject’s shirt collar, then run the cable under the collar and down his back. The process is much faster and the cable is just as invisible as with the usual center-of-the-chest-then-inside-the-shirt method.

More Lav Tips

While we are on the subject of lavalier microphones, here are two of our golden Tips to Clip that never go out of style.

Sometimes a thin shirt or blouse is not stiff enough to support the weight of the lav and it “falls over,” causing a real problem with some of the new very directional units. The cure is simple: hide a credit card (not your own) or a small piece of cardboard inside the garment to stiffen the fabric where you want to attach the mic.

Do your lavalier microphone clips cause anxiety in interview subjects wearing expensive silk ties? Protect the cravats and your reputation by slipping a piece of shrink tubing over the clip’s sharp teeth. The tubing will retain the shape of the teeth and provide the needed grip, but it won’t damage fabric.

Almost Good Enough to Eat

Does your shoot involve food? The process of photography and hot studio lights can make groceries look less than appetizing. These tips sent in by food stylist Alahna Jones of Cleveland, Ohio, will improve the situation.

Ice cream will melt, but a scoop of mashed potatoes holds its shape. Keep it plain for vanilla or add food coloring for other flavors.

Food coloring can also be used to paint “grill marks” on a piece of fish or a hamburger. Use a cotton swab as a paint brush for the correct sized stripes.

Cooked meat including that hamburger will look juicier when brushed with cooking oil.

If it’s a cheeseburger, give the cheese the proper melt droop by hitting it briefly with a hair dryer or the heat gun you use for shrink tubing.

Lettuce will look fresher longer if it is first soaked in a bowl of ice water with a little lemon juice.

A coating of lemon juice will also work to slow apple and avocado slices turning brown.

Scrambled eggs will remain fluffy looking if you cook in a couple of cotton balls from the makeup artist. Of course, this tip will work only if the eggs will not actually be eaten.

Laser Light

One of the joys of a lighting director’s life is working in a studio with a grid full of lighting instruments. One of the pains of a lighting director’s life is trying to tell his assistant exactly which of those many instruments to adjust.

George Cohen, a lighting director in the Chicago area, relieves the pain with a pen-sized laser pointer of the type used by lecturers. The laser’s dot pinpoints the instrument to which George is referring. When not in use, the pointer fits easily in his shirt pocket.