Tips to Clip: November 2012

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Phony Fire Flicker
If you’re looking for a small flickering fire effect but you don’t want to really play with fire, try this tip from Ernie Simmons of Alexander, La.: use a grouping of LED tea lights.

Available in most variety stores, these battery powered lights won’t do much singly but work well when used in groups. You can increase the effect by putting them on shiny aluminum foil.

Properly placed, they can also stand in for real candles without the potential of burning down your studio.

Card Care
There are so many types of recording media today that it is hard to keep track. If the media you are using is some type of memory card, you may find difficulty getting them in and out of your computer or other download device. Robert Wellington, photojournalist for NBC Bay Area, says several cards actually broke before he made the job easier by putting a small gaffer’s tape tab handle on each of them.

Before you start writing protest letters, the cover on the side of the camera is normally closed to protect the cards. Robert opened it for the photo.

Old School Effects
Shooting against greenscreen is so common that many videographers forget that sometimes it is better to do an effect “old school” so actors actually have something to react to.

One of the simplest effects is that of a floating object. Special effects artist Richard Albain suggests using two strands of the thinnest monofilament fishing line that will hold the load. One strand should be connected to each end of the object, then fastened to a puppet-type control stick. The stick should be slightly shorter than the object so the lines form something like a letter A. Two lines rather than one will keep the object from spinning, and the shorter stick will make your control movements smoother.

Clear monofilament will tend to take on the color of the background, making it almost invisible. Just ask any fish.

Buzzing Microphones
Here is one of those problems that doesn’t come up too often, but when it does, it’s great to know the cure. Dave Marks of Boulder, Co., shoots a lot of outdoor documentaries. He used to be plagued by the loud sound of flies and other bugs buzzing around his boom microphone.

His tip is simple: put a little dab of insect repellent on the mic or windscreen. (Don’t use spray directly on any microphone.) Marty says it usually lasts a few months before needing replenishment.

Reflecting on Mirrors
One of the many multipurpose items in my “goodie bag” is a small mirror.

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The first and most obvious use is when talent wants to make an adjustment to hair or makeup.

Less obvious is using the mirror to see the connections on the back of equipment when I am trying to make a hookup in the field.

And remember, placing a small flashlight close to your eye and shining it on the mirror will illuminate the area you are examining.

When copying pictures or documents, it’s important that the camera is centered and parallel to the surface of the original. To achieve the correct positioning, place the mirror in the center of the artwork. Then look through the viewfinder and move the camera until you see the lens reflected in the mirror. Because the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, and both must be zero for you to see yourself, the camera will be properly positioned. Just remove the mirror and shoot away.


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