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Tips to Clip: March 2015

Droning On

More and more of us are using small drones indoors and want to incorporate them into our toolkit of outdoor video tools. However, there is a real possibility of getting into legal trouble if you don’t do it correctly. The FAA and local law enforcement seem to be just saying no to drone use for commercial video at the present time. However, there are some test projects, such as one being conducted by CNN, that are attempting to help develop workable regulations.

I recently saw an interview with Lisa Ellman, an attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge and an expert on the subject. She mentioned a blog sponsored by her firm,, that provides updates on drone legislation and policy.

Snake Shields

The delicate connectors on the medusa end of a multichannel digital optical snake can easily become tangled or damaged due to dirt, gravel or general banging around during travel. Even storing the cord in a bin doesn’t always prevent damage. To alleviate this problem, Michael Casey of Colorado Springs, Colo., found that a golf club cover from a wood driver is the right size and shape, and it zips up to protect the connectors.

Cell Phone Support

Cell phones are another of the gadgets finding their way into professional video. Dale Ward of Saint Louis, Mo., teaches a class at his local community college titled “Making Movies on Your Mobile Phone.” When he received a cell phone cradle as a convention giveaway, his gadget brain started working.

The cradle was made of metal. He figured a hole in the base and a 1/4-20 nut would let him attach it to a tripod. It works well, allowing him to easily use a cell phone on a tripod, jib or other camera stabilizer. For added support, he secures the phone with a rubber band.

Read about Dale’s film and web projects at

Conquering Cold

Condensation will form on any cold object moved into a warm environment. To prevent moisture buildup after shooting in the cold, put your camera and lenses into an airtight plastic bag. In a warm environment, the moisture will form on the outside of the bag instead of on your gear, so your equipment will remain dry while warming up. Leave the bag sealed for about two hours or until the gear is at room temperature.

A Gripping Tale

THE PROBLEM: How do you remove a screw-in filter or lens that seems to be fused in place? You don’t want to use a metal wrench because of the damage it could cause.

THE TIPS: Put a couple of rubber bands around the lens to give you a better grip.

Drape a piece of common AC twin-lead lamp cord over the filter or lens. Then, pinching the wire just below the lens, use the wire “handle” as a wrench to unscrew it.

The lens technicians at Fujinon suggest you put on a pair of dishwashing gloves to improve your grip.

Equipment Ejector

Many of my pieces of equipment fit in their custom cases so tightly that it’s difficult to remove them—it used to be difficult, that is, until I paid attention to how the tight-fitting batteries in my portable radio can be popped out by pulling on a cloth ribbon. I now lay a piece of strapping material in the case before putting the equipment in. Pulling the ends of the strap lifts the item out with no fuss.

I.D. Ideas

Speaking of equipment cases, you can make inexpensive identification tags for your cases by laminating one of your business cards and attaching it with a wire tie. You can save even more money and do your own laminating by placing the item between two sheets of clear, self-sticking adhesive shelf liner.