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Tips to Clip: November 2015

Info Saver

The tip about unique uses for your cell phone that appeared in a previous issue brought forward several more ideas.

Robin Knox of San Jose, Calif., makes pictures of frequency lists when he is setting up wireless microphone systems. By using his camera’s zoom feature, he can then consult the list when coordinating frequencies.

Paul Ekland of Los Angeles shoots interviewees holding their business card near their face so he will have their title and the correct spelling of their name when he gets back to his office.

Cable Ties

Most of us like to keep a neat workspace. Part of that is having some method of securing cable coils. We use Velcro ties, plastic clips, shoelaces, “tie line” and any number of other gadgets, kept handy by fastening the tool to the cable end. But which end?

I suggest that your fasteners always be secured to the male end. Since microphones and most other equipment connects to the female end, attaching the tool to the other end will keep the tie out of the shot. By always using the male end, you will also have a built-in strain relief at each connection whenever you have to plug two or more cables together.

Cable Safety

The heavy duty AC cables we use to power our equipment tend to be rather stiff, which makes them stick out from the wall plug and create an easy-to-trip-over loop.

Lighting director Dave Murphy of Chicago earns a Tipster Tool Tote for sending in his simple safety cure. As you can see in the photo, Dave just puts a rubber band around the cord to bend it back against the wall, eliminating the foot-grabbing loop.

Of course, be sure to tape the cable to the floor in any area where people will be walking.

Protecting Patterns

Tips on prolonging the useful life of the metal patterns (sometimes called gobos) inserted in some ellipsoidal spotlights so they will project a design come to us from videographer Jeff Canon of New York City.

A gobo will last longer if the lighting instrument is left on for a prolonged period rather than being switched on and off frequently, which stresses the metal. By the same token, a pattern will last longer if it is allowed to cool more slowly, which happens when you leave it in the fixture.

Jeff says that we should be careful when removing the pattern from the fixture. Many gobos are damaged by being pulled out of the fixture roughly or scraped against the housing. We will send a Tipster Tool Tote to Jeff for sharing his ideas.

Face the Camera

When making a group photo or video, you want to get everyone in the shot and ensure all faces are visible. Remind them that if they can’t see your camera lens, your camera won’t be able to see them.

A Bright Idea

The shine from a bald head can be distracting in video or still photos. If moving the backlight doesn’t help, try Arrid Extra Dry spray powder deodorant as a dulling agent. The light powder cuts the shine and can be removed easily after the shoot. The spray goes on faster than makeup and is much neater. It will also prevent perspiration that could cause additional shine.

Be sure to let the talent know what you are doing because some people may be allergic to the spray. It is also important that they know not to rub their head and then their eyes.

Cheap Light

One of the cheapest pieces of lighting equipment available is a large piece of white poster board, which can be used as a reflector. It can be used both inside and out, handheld, mounted on a stand, put on an easel or fastened to almost anything.

Outside, the board will reflect light to soften harsh shadows and de-emphasize dark eye sockets created by strong sunlight.

Indoors, a softer, more natural effect can be obtained by bouncing some of the key light into the subject instead of using a separate fill light.

The reflector can also help when you are forced to shoot under fluorescent lights or lights with non-standard color temperatures. You don’t have to worry about filtering—just white balance to the available light. The light delivered by the reflector will automatically match the available light.