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Tips to Clip: November 2016

Glare Gone

I love it when you allow me to share simple tips that solve basic problems. Carl Ulbrich of Phoenix, Ariz., was annoyed by the sometimes glaring light provided by the small work lamps we use backstage. His answer, as you can see in the photo he sent, is to cut an X in the bottom of a cardboard coffee cup and slide it over the bulb. The cardboard is heavy enough that it doesn’t present a fire hazard, while providing very nice diffusion.

Bottle Holder

Kathleen Schumacher, a camera operator in San Jose, Calif., frequently is at her post for hours at a time. A water bottle is essential, but there is no place within reach to put it without resting it on expensive electronics. Her tip is to fasten a loop of tie line around the bottle’s neck, then use it to hang the bottle from the back of her chair or one of the knobs on the tripod.

Case Stopper

The large cases in which we transport most of our equipment can serve double duty as stands during a show. But because they are on wheels, they sometimes move when we don’t want them to. Lighting director Tim Armstrong of Ben Lomond, Calif., solves that one by wrapping the wheels in gaffer’s tape. Add a bit of duvetyn (black cloth) to cover the case’s ugliness and you have a beautiful stand.

Metering the Line

Do you provide video or photo services to wedding receptions or other buffet-style festive events where, as soon as the meal service is announced, everyone seems to rush the food line, creating a massive traffic jam? Then this tip from photographer Ginger Marie of Roseville, Calif., may provide you an opportunity to show your cooperative and creative nature.

Since the host almost always wants coverage of individual tables, how about suggesting that everyone remain seated and only join the line after their table has been photographed. That will not only meter the line, but it will ensure that everyone is seated at their table when you make the picture.

Card Storage

Here is a tip for those of us who have been in the business long enough to have worked with VHS and SVHS. Ken DeWoody of San Diego writes, “Remember those great plastic cases the cassettes came in? They are a perfect fit for hard drives! I have a client archive of numerous hard drives (what working pro doesn’t?) and they are stored on a shelf, labeled and preserved in these hard-shelled cases that look like they were made for just that purpose.”

What’s Your Idea?

There is an old saying, “Anyone who is fed from the pot should help keep it full.” Over the past 34 years, hundreds of video professionals have given back to the industry by sharing their shooting and production tips through this column. Now it’s your turn. To share your shortcuts and easy ways to do things, just drop me a letter or e-mail. We love close-up pictures, but they are not necessary. Send your tips and questions to