Tips to Clip: January 2014

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Stop Shaky Shots

A sign of an amateur attempting to hand-hold a film or video camera is the amount of vibration or shake in the image. Elizabeth Golden of New Orleans asks if I know a way to avoid the problem.

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Most of us are aware that the longer the lens, the more any given amount of movement will show up.

Years ago when shooting handheld news aerials I learned to avoid the “amateur shake” and make my zooms to longer focal lengths smoother by watching the edge of the picture in the viewfinder. Any shake will first become obvious there because of its proximity to the non-moving edge of the frame.

As you zoom in, if you begin to notice shake at the edge, stop the zoom. Chances are the movement will not yet be objectionable in the picture’s center and you will have saved the shot.

Filter Factor

I was taking pictures of a huge machine that turns old automobiles into little chunks of metal about the size of large marbles. Suddenly one of those “marbles” flew out of the machine and hit the front of my 18:1 zoom lens. The only thing that saved me from having to call off the rest of the shoot, not to mention a huge repair bill, was the 1-A filter I always keep on the lens.

That filter joins another on my shelf of honor. The first one earned its place by catching a piece of hot metal thrown by an arc welder.

When on the camera, a good quality 1-A is invisible to the normal eye. For the purist, it does eliminate a small amount of ultraviolet, making shadows appear slightly less blue. Much more importantly, however, it protects the very expensive and hard-to-replace front lens element.

In day-to-day use, the 1-A will help keep dirt off the front element. That means you won’t have to clean it as often and its coatings will last longer.

I strongly recommend using a 1-A whenever you take the camera out of its case.

Solder Station

If you have read this column for any length of time, you know I am a nut for gadgets that are repurposed to fill a need other than their original job. The gang at Stanford University’s AV department showed me this kluge they put together: it’s a soldering station made from a microphone stand.

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One of the neat points is that the roll of solder is held securely, but it uncoils easily as it is needed. I can’t count the number of times mine has rolled off the bench and across the floor. The hot iron is held away from the bench, where it is less likely to roll around or burn me.

A tip of the tipster top hat to Stanford AV.

Stand Safety

We should all be concerned about safety on our shoots, and that definitely includes falling light stands. Your stands will be more stable if you point one leg in the direction of any overhanging load. If the weight of the instrument appears to be balanced on the stand, try pointing one leg toward the subject. Then if the stand tips over, it is less likely to go in that direction.

Watch for trip hazards such as “clothes-lined” power cords (cords that don’t go all the way to the ground before beginning their horizontal travel).

A friend of mine found he reduced the number of people tripping on his set by putting yellow and black hazard tape on the light stand legs.

Power to the Kids

We have mentioned this before but I think it bears repeating. We use wireless microphones a lot and end up with boxes of partially used AA and 9 volt alkaline batteries. They are not actually dead, but since they’ve been partially discharged, I wouldn’t feel safe using them for a production.

Instead of throwing them away, we donate ours to a local children’s shelter and a home for victims of domestic violence. In both cases the batteries spend their declining days powering kids’ toys.

I’m sure a quick check with local agencies will find an equally useful “retirement home” for your partially used batteries.


More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that the company’s production and post products were used to complete many of the fall 2018 season’s new and returning television shows and streaming series. More than 55 shows rely on Blackmagic Design’s digital film cameras; Fusion visual effects (VFX), compositing, 3D and motion graphics software; and DaVinci Resolve editing, color correction, VFX and digital audio software; as well as its switchers, routers, monitors and capture and playback devices.


Jingle All the Way: Luxul's XMS-1208P Managed Gigabit Switch is Available for All CI Integrators this Holiday Season

Luxul, the leading innovator of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, today announced that it's giving CI integrators the gift of enterprise-level performance at affordable price points this holiday season. It doesn't matter if they've been naughty or nice, the company's XMS-1208P 12-port/18 PoE+ managed Gigabit switch — that delivers high-speed performance while enabling simple network expansion — is now available for all. And to ring in the new year, Luxul will begin shipping its AMS-1816P 18-port/16 PoE+ L2/L3 managed Gigabit switch in early January.


HoverCam Transforms Classrooms Fit for Future-Ready Students at Val Verde USD

HoverCam, an innovative technology leader in the digital education market, announced that Val Verde Unified School District (USD) in Parris, California, successfully installed HoverCam's Pilot digital teaching stations and CenterStage interactive flat panels (IFPs) in new STEM labs in the elementary schools, with plans for an eventual rollout to the district's middle and high schools. As part of the district's goal to create future-ready students, Val Verde USD chose HoverCam digital education solutions to address the rising challenge of updating classrooms and introducing curriculum with advanced systems that will prepare students for a rapidly changing career landscape.


The Sigma Holiday Sale Is Back!

Nothing makes gift giving as enjoyable as special prices on award-winning Sigma lenses and accessories; get the lens you’ve always craved or surprise a fellow shooter with the perfect present.


Global News Agency Ruptly Relies on Riedel's MediorNet and Artist on Board New OB and DSNG Vehicles

Riedel's MediorNet real-time media network and Artist digital matrix intercom are providing the decentralized and redundant signal routing and communications backbone on board two all-new, state-of-the-art OB vehicles for Ruptly, a Berlin-based international news agency. Qvest Media, a world-leading system architect and integrator for the broadcast and media industries, designed and built the new broadcast van and DSNG vehicle.