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Tips to Clip: May 2014

Syncing Cameras

I get a lot of questions about how to sync multiple prosumer cameras on a shoot that have no way to insert a master timecode. Some shooters use a flash bulb or clapboard, which works for one take. This tip for longer shoots comes from Mike Rentnelli, production manager at Daytona State College.

Mike suggests using one of the remotes to set all the cameras to the same time of day. First go into the menu and enable the remote on each of the cameras. Set the timecode to “time of day.” Set each camera’s time for the same hour, minute, second and frame. Pick a time four or five minutes in the future so you have enough time to set up all the cameras. Depending on the type of menu, there will be a place where the next click starts the digits rolling. You want to be just before that.

Place the cameras together, side by side. Facing the lenses, stand far enough away that the IR beam from the remote can be seen by all of the cameras. When the actual time matches the time you have set, hit the remote’s enter button once.

All the camera clocks should now be rolling; the times should match to the frame and also be within a second of your reference source for the time of day.

Where Does This Go?

When packing after a project, volunteer helpers can sometimes be more of a hindrance than help. You and I know exactly where everything must go so it will not be damaged and can be found on the next job. Kevin Gaul of Freeman Audio Visual Solutions shared one way to pass on that information.

The images placed in some of Freeman’s cases help keep things organized by showing exactly what pieces belong in that box. Other equipment owners go a step further, using a picture of the properly packed case to not only show the inventory, but also the right way to pack it.

No Drain, No Pain

Your video project calls for police cars to pull into the location of an accident or other emergency and remain there with red lights flashing for several subsequent scenes. However, the demands of the production’s soundtrack require that the automobiles’ engines be turned off.

Considering the amount of time that it can take to set up and record each scene, you may end up with a lot of dead car batteries.

Most Hollywood police show crews avoid that problem by cheating. They attach a 10-amp battery charger to each car, which replenishes the car battery as fast as the flashing lights try to run it down.

The chargers can be hidden under the automobile’s hood, but for better cooling they should be placed on the ground on the side of the car away from the camera.

Shady Business

In many outdoor and some indoor applications, reflectors are the lighting instrument of choice. They don’t require electricity; if properly used, they are always the correct color temperature; they produce no heat; and best of all, they’re cheap.

This month I received two tips about do-it-yourself reflectors.

Fred Shermon of Kingston, Pa., uses silver cloth automobile window shades to bounce light into his pictures. He says that the large mobile home type, the ones with a flexible hoop around the outside, work best. They fold into a small circle for storage. When you’re not working on the set, this reflector can also keep your car cool.

Dean Shatman of New York found a pile of broken projection screens at a local thrift store. He salvaged the cloth and mounted it on foam core.

Screen material can also be stretched on a frame made of PVC pipe. This homemade reflector can be disassembled and rolled up inside a larger diameter pipe for shipment or storage.

Trips to Skip

Every location lighting kit should include at least one five- or six-foot length of rubber-backed carpet runner to cover exposed cables when they cross sidewalks, doorways or other high-traffic areas.

One lawsuit by someone who has tripped over a cable can mean financial disaster.

Soft Soap

Tuck a hotel-sized bar of soap into a plastic bag and stick it in a corner of your location kit. Chase Holt of Northbrook, Ill., has found that a little soap smeared on a shiny surface with a wet finger can do wonders in dulling lighting flares. Chase says that the soap will work on glass frames, car bumpers and plenty of other surfaces.