Lunch for Your Camcorder
I'm a fond fan of your magazine, and most recently have been making purchases of consumer equipment to build my own small business. Now I have a News Photographer's tip for you. News shooters never know day-to-day where the story will take them, and often work in extreme weather conditions on a moment's notice. From the low desert one day to a mountaintop blizzard the next, we have to keep our gear on the ready at all times. Protecting our batteries and tapes in these conditions can be trying, so while they sit in our cars awaiting use, we store them in portable lunch coolers.
If it's really hot outside, put a "brick" of reusable freeze pack faux-ice on the bottom, then lay a piece of Styrofoam or cardboard over that to protect your tapes and batteries from "ice burn". Then place your tapes and batteries in the cooler and zip it up! It's convenient, has handles, and packs well. When you leave the car on your shoot, you only have to lug the batteries you need in your equipment bag, and the rest sit neatly protected in your lunch cooler.
Santa Monica, CA
Note: It is imperative to have the piece of cardboard or Styrofoam between the ice substitute block and your tapes. It will act as a buffer and absorb some of the condensation produced when the ice substitute warms up. If your camcorder's dew indication appears, you probably don't want to keep using this tip, as there is a risk that the tape could become stuck to your camcorder's mechanism, requiring either costly repairs or disposal of your camcorder. But an empty ice-cooler is a cool idea.
Stop the Pops
I enjoyed your March 2004 article on "Speaking Tips" in your Sound Advice column. In your "Use a Pop Filter" paragraph, it mentioned improvising a pop filter with a piece of a coat hanger and a nylon stocking. Looking at the accompanying photo of the commercial pop filter, I realize one could be built that looks/performs just like its commercial cousin for a fraction of a cost. I bought a 6" embroidery hoop from Wal-Mart and a 1/2" X 6 Millford hanger at Lowes to connect the hoop to my microphone boom. Total cost: about $2.50, plus an old nylon from my wife's drawer when she wasn't looking.
Mark A. Foley
For a detailed, step-by-step procedure for building your own pop filter, see the feature "Do-it-Yourself Hoop Windscreen" in the October 2001 issue. You can also read this article, along with all of our articles published since 1995, online at www.videomaker.com. You'll need your ClubVid password, which appears in the upper right-hand corner of the magazine's table of contents.
Clean House, Clean System
I am a faithful reader of Videomaker. I scan a couple of others, but they don't measure up.
Here is something I learned recently. We had purchased some dry electrostatic cloth dusters (e.g. Swiffer, Pledge Grab-It) for our home. I decided to try one on my editing system. Many a sneeze has resulted from dusting that equipment. Not so with the electrostatic dusters. They don't move the dust around-they pick it up. With a swipe, you can lift the dust from almost any equipment. However, the best news was how they can clean the dust from a keyboard so gently that they don't press a key.
If you're doing some work on your computer involving screws, a plastic tray from a frozen dinner can help you sort out the various parts. The "main course" tray can also store larger things, such as memory modules or expansion cards. Chicken dinner trays are deeper than other trays, making them particularly well-suited for the task.