Protection for Your LCD
I have found an inexpensive and easy way to protect the LCD on camcorders as well as on digital cameras. I simply purchased a length of transparent self-clinging film at an art and printing supplies shop and cut it to fit the size of the LCD.
I have used this type of clinging film for several years and I currently still use it on a Sony DCR-TRV7 and a DCR-TRV10 as well as a Canon PowerShot S10 (digital still camera).
This cling-film sells by the foot, is relatively inexpensive and is easy to cut to size using only a pair of scissors. I trim it so it exactly fits inside the LCD frame. One foot of cling-film will cover a lot of LCDs for pennies each! Once the backing is removed, the cut-to-size film is applied to the clean LCD surface and clings to it, protecting your camcorder's display from scratches. The loss of sharpness is very minimal and is worth the extra protection, in my opinion.
This works well for protecting the camcorder's LCD from accidental scratches, finger prints, etc., and is even better for digital still cameras, most of which do not have a covered LCD when turned off and are more easily exposed to scratches.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Mrs. Benson's Rhubarb to the Rescue
Here is a little hint we were taught when I went to film school.
Problem: you are shooting a party scene where your main characters are talking to each other within a larger crowd. You want the rest of the crowd to appear as if they are talking and "mingling," yet you don't want your audio to be contaminated with all of these extraneous sounds. However, every time you tell the crowd extras to "fake talk", it seems to be very stilted and artificial-looking.
Solution: Get people in the crowd (not the main dialogue characters in the scene) to mouth the words "rhubarb, rhubarb, Mrs. Benson" over and over in fake conversation. For whatever reason, these words make the mouth move in what seems like a natural manner, allowing your key dialogue to remain free of background sound, yet your extras don't LOOK like they are faking talking.
Then in post production, just add in your party sound from a sound track disc (or better yet, from the actual wrap party when everyone really IS mingling and talking out loud) and you're done.
Gloucester, ON, Canada
Land of a Thousand Tripods
So you saved your hard earned cash to take a vacation. You brought your camcorder along. Now that you've arrived, don't you wish you could find the perfect spot to grab that great video footage of the vista? Do you wish you had a rock-steady tripod with a smooth fluid pan and tilt head right about now? Wish no more! Any place that is going to attract people to the view is going to have one or more perfectly placed coin operated binoculars or viewing scopes. It is a perfect camera platform, solidly built, with a head that pans and tilts.
Don't be shy, just wait your turn. Step up and practice panning and tilting the viewer, then place a handkerchief or folded paper napkin between your camcorder and the top of the device (to give you some extra traction and protection.) Next, put your camcorder on the napkin, and record away while holding onto the camcorder. Shoot long. Use your free hand and body to slowly move the pan and tilt head in the desired directions. Smooth moves and great footage are your reward. If you are satisfied with the results, hey, drop a coin in the machine and take a telescopic look too!
Glenn E. Mitchell
Cart Yer Own
Take a look at many pro-video equipment catalogs and you will most likely find that a cart for moving around your equipment costs upwards of $500, some a great deal more. Here's an easy DIY project for less. I find that I spend quite a bit of time at the local major hardware outlet, where I recently combined a $50 cart with some pipe insulators, gaffer tape, tie-downs and a few Matthews clamps to make a cart that shifts all my gear and doubles as a simple dolly for around $100.
San Francisco, CA