Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
Through experimentation, I found a great way to create a window effect on the wall. If you go to any Wal-Mart store, you can find 12" by 12" mirror tiles. Then, you create a pattern on the mirror with gaffer's tape, so certain areas will be blocked. An example is making blinds by doing a series of tape lines parallel to one of the sides of the mirror. Then, you simply bounce the light source off the mirror and it will land wherever you direct it. The reflection will be quite bright. You can obviously use different sizes and shapes of mirrors to create different effects. Enjoy.
Getting full-faced labels onto our discs has always been a problem. So, we decided to create our own vacuum device to hold labels flat until the disc was dropped on them. Take a 50 or 100 CD spindle and flip it over onto its cover. Seal the junction with some rapid- setting bathtub caulk material like Dap Kwik Set. Let dry. Using a 1/16th-inch drill, make a bunch of small holes in the base and remove any burs left by the cutting process. Use a box cutter to make a small hole in the wall of the cover to accommodate the suction tube of an indoor/outdoor vacuum cleaner. (The fit does not have to be perfect.)
Now you're ready to go. Turn on the vacuum cleaner. Place the sticky label face down near the base. It will suck down nice and flat. Then just drop your disc onto the sticky surface. Make sure it's the top side of the disc!
Turn off the vacuum and shake the now-labeled disc off the spindle.
Alternatively, you can cut out the bottom of the spindle cover. Then set it on a piece of carpet. With the vacuum still running, you can lift the cover up and release the suction so you can be more rapidly productive without turning the vacuum cleaner on and off. Suction is still quite adequate when the opened spindle cover is sitting face-down on the carpet.
William C. Domb
Note: Videomaker does not recommend the use of disc labels on DVDs due to heat and stability issues. While labeled DVDs appear to work fine for a while, our experience with them is that they tend to become unreadable prematurely, compared to their non-labeled counterparts (or discs labeled with pens designed specifically for writing on the surfaces of optical discs.) Reader Domb's tip is a good solution for labeling CDs, however. We recommend DVDs be labeled with inkjet printers that can print directly onto discs.
We've all seen boring footage from well-meaning videographers who shoot too much from a locked-down tripod, and then there's the motion-sickness that comes with footage from handheld shots.
For those not quite ready to buy a Glidecam, there is a dirt-cheap alternative which works 75% as well for 1/6th the money. Get a monopod which costs around $55 at your local camera shop. Then buy 2 1/2 pounds of weight from a local fitness store. I used two 1 1/4-lb. plates for less then $4. Pull the rubber tip off the bottom of the monopod and slip the weights on. Then glue the tip back on. Wrapping the handle with padding makes it even easier to float the cam.
You now have an excellent stabilization device for any camera under three pounds. Not only does this system work ten times better then handheld; it offers two other big advantages. You can extend the leg to the ground for a locked-down shot or you can extend the sections, flip your LCD facing down, then hold the cam ten feet up in the air for a crane shot. I've been doing this for the last year and people always wonder what I was standing on when they see the footage.
St. Louis, MO
In the January 2004 Sound Advice column, it was recommended to use a short headphone extension cable to relieve the stress on the camcorder's 1/8" microphone input. I use a 90-degree adapter right out of the camcorder to solve that problem. The adapter doesn't stick out quite as far and still relieves the stress on the jack.
Bruce D. Quinn