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Fight Video Fright

You know the feeling

Walk into a room full of people, remove your camcorder's lens cap, and suddenly your would-be subjects are aswash in a sea of anxiety

There they are: your relatives, your friends, eyes squeezed shut, heads lolling, muttering nonsense, primping neurotically, crawling with tics and twitches, looking and acting mor elike loonies on a day trip than people you love and admire. You hoped to catch them at their natural best; instead, you're accumlulating evidence for commitment.

These people are victims of a new form of "stage fright." Fear of being recorded, on film or video, is increasingly common. Its roots, I'm sure, lie in that same primitive fear that damned the still camera as an instrument of the devil, an unholy device designed to capture the human image and thereby steal the soul.

Could be. We won't know for sure 'til later. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to make video victims more comfortable. Who knows, they might even have fun.

Know Thyself

First, know your equipment.

If you're a fumbler, a bumbler, forever flailing for buttons, banging into lampstands, and cursing the camera, you're likely to install a feeling of aprehension-if not downright rear-in your subjects.

So be sure you know you equipment inside and out. Use that camera until it becomes an extension of your eyes and arms. Tape is cheap, so shoot and shoot and shoot again. Become one with every switch and button.

Get organized. Know the location of the extra batteries you know are charged. Bring extra tapes, labeling pens, labels. Know the schedule of events, if any, and anticipate where to be next.

The confidence you will gain will make you a little more transparent and fluid, which translates into less anxiety for your subjects.

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Tags:  January 1991
Tue, 01/01/1991 - 12:00am