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Tips to Clip: May 2016

Backwards It Shoot

I received an unusual question this month. Kelly Murphy of New York says, “I have to make a shot where an actor catches an arrow that was fired at him. Do you have any idea how I can do this safely?”

There is a fairly simple trick that will accomplish your goal without the risk of incurring massive medical bills. Remember: It doesn’t have to be, it just has to look like it is. The trick is to shoot the sequence backwards and reverse it in post.

Attach a piece of fine, clear fishing line to the back of the arrow. Start with the arrow gripped in the actor’s hand and have someone tug the fishing line. As the arrow flies away, the actor lowers his hand quickly. His facial expression can also help sell the effect.

Attaching the line to a fishing rod will keep it taut, making the line less visible and increasing the speed at which the arrow can be jerked away. For safety’s sake, you should probably remove the arrowhead. You will probably have to practice this move several times to make it look right.

Tool Tethers

We have received a number of tool storage tips since we started giving away Tipster Tool Totes to those of you who share your ideas. Here are two of the most interesting.

Many control and equipment rooms use carpeting on the walls to provide some measure of sound absorption. According to Mark Shattuck of Salt Lake City, the carpeted wall can also act as a toolbox. Mark has attached pieces of a hook and loop fastener to the small adjustment tools and other items he uses most often. The hooks catch on the carpet’s loop and the tools can be stored on the wall near where they are needed.

A small button magnet taped to a pen or pencil will hold it to a metal clipboard, equipment rack or filing cabinet. We use this method to keep a pencil near our constantly changing “to do” and “supplies needed” lists, which are also held to the filing cabinet by magnets. Be aware that the magnet can induce a magnetic field in your screwdriver or other tool, which is usually not a good thing if you are working with electronic devices.

Vanishing Velcro

As Mark mentioned, sticky Velcro-type strips are really handy for tacking items to equipment cases and racks, but the glue is so strong that it can be difficult to move or remove the strips. Joe Cruise of Jefferson City, Mo., shared his solution. If you are having trouble removing sticky tape, use a hairdryer or heat gun to warm up the strips so they can be peeled off. Any residue can be cleaned easily with alcohol swabs or a solvent such as Goo Gone. This tip also works with almost any tape that uses rubber cement-based glue.

Sharper Stills

After reading our attempt to help Govind Shahi make sharper stills in the April Tips column, Tracy Nelson of Washington, D.C., shared this rule of thumb. To avoid shake when hand-holding telephoto lenses, it is particularly important to make the camera’s shutter speed the same or greater than the focal length of the lens in millimeters. For example, if you are using a 200mm lens, select a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second or faster. You can then control the exposure with the F-stop. This tip will also help when you are using a less-than-steady tripod.

Hot Cables

Here is a safety tip from our friends at Lowel Lighting. It is not unusual for cables to get warm during normal operation. However, switches should not be warmer than the cable. A hot switch or electrical plug (male or female) may be on the verge of failure, and should be replaced.

In general, a loose contact will result in overheating at that contact. Tightening a loose screw (in a switch or female plug) may alleviate this problem. Aging cables may become progressively warmer. However, if the insulation becomes excessively hot and begins to melt or crack, the cord set should be replaced.