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Tips to Clip: February 2016

Headphone Adapter
It seems like when we need the 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter for our headphones, it’s often not with the headphones—it’s in our other pants pocket or still attached to the last piece of equipment. Bill Stephens of Reno, Nev., earns a Tipster Tool Tote for sharing how he keeps his act together. Bill writes, “I measured out a small distance from the headphone’s plug and used a cable tie and a small spot of rubber cement to connect the adapter to the headphone cable. I’ve never lost one since. I used rubber cement in case the adapter goes bad so it’s easy to disassemble and replace the adapter.”

Pull Tab
Many equipment bags and covers are supposed to be opened and closed with zippers. I say “supposed to” because the zipper pull tab is usually so small that it is almost impossible to hold when the bag is overfilled—and for most professional videographers, that’s most of the time. After wrestling with a particularly stubborn zipper, I “got a grip” by putting a large paper clip through the hole in the pull.

Plug Screwdriver
The Problem: You need to tighten a flat slot screw but your screwdriver is not handy.

The Tip: Mike Saxton of Tracy, Calif., says he has saved the day by using a power plug blade, which will fit most medium and larger sized screws. In a real emergency, the corner of the blade may turn a Philips-type screw.

Screwdriver Trivia: Many of the 35mm still photography cameras that were made in Japan had a battery compartment that was sealed with a screw-in cap. Although most people in the United States used a quarter to open it, the slot in that cap was actually designed to fit the Japanese 5 yen coin, which happens to have a hole in the middle, so lots of photographers carried one on their keychain.

Take-Along Tape
Mary Ortiz of Dallas has a neat way to carry just enough gaffer’s tape for use on a production. She wraps about six feet of it around a ballpoint pen. It’s much easier than carrying a whole roll while shooting ENG style. The pen wrap provides enough tape for mics, cables and even that little extra shade you have to attach to stop lens flare. An added benefit is that Mary always has a pen when she needs one. She adds, “Everyone knows it’s mine, so it gets returned.”

Another bit of trivia: the brand “Gaffer-tape” is a trademark of Lowel Lighting. The combination of a special glue and a cloth backing was created by Ross Lowell in 1959 when he was a gaffer in the motion picture industry.

Uncrowding the Screen
The most common problem with corporate presentations we record is that speakers cram the screen with information, ignoring the “Rules of 6” that have been making slides more effective since they were really 35mm film.

  1. There should be no more than six lines of type per slide. If you need to say more, make another slide.
  2. Don’t turn the slide into a script. A bullet point is not supposed to tell the whole story—it is supposed to be a reminder or pithy summary and should contain no more than six words.
  3. The type should be no smaller than one-sixth the height of the screen.

Using animation or a series of slides to reveal text in steps will prevent the audience from reading ahead and becoming distracted.

Rental Record
When you rent equipment, use your cell phone to make a picture or two of the item in its case before you leave the rental company. In the event of a dispute when you return the gear, the image will serve as record of its condition when you received it. The picture will also help you properly repack the gear.

Roll Blockers
Blocks of 2″ x 4″ wood with a hook-and-loop fastener stuck to one side can help prevent equipment from rolling or sliding around in the trunk of your car. The hooks engage the loops in the trunk’s carpeting so the lumber is held in place. If the floor of the trunk is bare, you can use double-sided tape to glue down carpet samples, which are available from most stores that sell floor coverings.