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Tips to Clip: March 2016

Emergency Charger

If you are away from your “base camp” and need to recharge your cell phone or other piece of equipment but forgot chargers, many TV sets and monitors can help. Check the I/O panel and you may find a USB port into which you can plug your charging cord.

Avoid the Dead Head

I carry a cheap mini flashlight in my toolkit as a backup to the main light that lives in a pouch on my belt. The problem is that the large rubber on/off switch at the back of the tube is easily bumped. I frequently find that the light was accidentally turned on and the batteries are dead. Not good for a backup.

My solution is a circle of cardboard cut from a 3×5 card, which I place in the battery compartment so it insulates the terminal and prevents unintentional drain. (And yes, I do carry spare batteries for both lights.)

More On Aerials

Last month we shared some tips for shooting from airplanes. John Wetmore of Chevy Chase, Md., makes pictures like this one of the Lincoln Memorial and earns a Tipster Tool Tote for sharing his ideas.

  • Use a napkin or tissue to clean dirt off the inside of the window.
  • Get a seat in front of the wing. Not only will the wing be less likely to block your view, but you won’t have the distortion caused by the jet engine exhaust.
  • Plan which side of the plane to sit on. Do you want the side away from the sun so all the dirt on the window won’t be brightly illuminated? Is there one side that will have a better view of major landmarks?
  • Use small equipment. It should fit under the seat so it is readily available. A small handheld camera is less likely to violate airline rules against being in your hand below 10,000 feet, when you can get some of the best shots.
  • Smaller planes like turboprops that fly at lower altitudes can give you better shots.

Hit Your Mark

Getting an actor to stop on a mark without numerous retakes can be difficult. Tape on the floor is the standard solution, but the actor might not be able to see it without looking down or when he or she is reading from a prompter. If the floor is not in the shot, some directors will put a brick or briefcase in place to ensure an accurate stop.

Tony Lynn of Henderson, Nev., uses sandpaper. He writes, “I tape a piece of sandpaper to the ground. When the actors feel the sandpaper under their feet, they know to stop. I’ve found this to be much better than a construction brick and much less likely to damage the actor’s toes!”

Wall Fishing

You want to install speakers or other equipment on a wall so the wires entering the wall behind it come back out through a hole near the baseboard. How do you fish the wire out without destroying the wall?

Phil Gordon, a longtime Tips contributor who is a system installer in Denver, Colo., gets a Tipster Tool Tote for suggesting this method:

1.Fold a thin metal tape measure in half, then push the middle through the lower hole until it bends out to form a loop along the edges of the wall interior.

2.Feed the speaker wire into the upper hole until the end reaches the floor inside the wall. The wire should pass through the looped tape measure.

3.Pull both ends of the tape measure. The wire should be captured and come out of the hole with it.

From Battle to Battery

I love to browse my local military surplus store looking for gadgets to repurpose. Ron Fox of Saint Cloud, Minn., gave me another excuse when he shared that an easy way to carry spare MP-type batteries is to put them into M16 rifle ammunition clip pouches. Ron says they fit nicely.