An Eye on the Edges

When I was quite young, my father had one of the early video cameras, the kind that had the camera separate from the briefcase sized VCR. He would teach me how to use it and one of the lessons he taught me I have used ever since, even today as I shoot surf movies and music videos professionally.

My father taught me to visually do a full 360-degree trace around the outer frame of my composition every two to three minutes to be sure I have the framing I want without any unwanted distractions popping in. It became a habit early in my video recording history; a habit that has kept my image exactly the way I want it.

Keep up the good work,

Luis Rodriquez

Daytona Beach, FL

Glaring Problem

One problem I know many people have when shooting an interview is the reflection of a light in the subject's glasses. Here are a couple of solutions that have worked for me:

1. Raise the head of the light slightly higher by adjusting the light stand.

2. If it’s a fixed light that is mounted on in the accessory shoe of a camera, try pointing it away from the subject. You may loose a portion of the beam you are trying to cast but sometimes you'll have enough to work with. If you are in tight quarters, the light may even bounce off walls and ceilings to cast enough light to illuminate the subject.

3. Angle the glasses downward by raising the back of the arms. Make sure it doesn't look unnatural. You can ball-up some paper or gaff tape to place between the top of the ear and the arm of the glasses to keep them angled correctly. This will only work if the ball is hidden in someone's hair or otherwise not seen by the camera.

4. Last resort: take the glasses off. This is generally not the best option, as glasses often are part of the personality of the subject, but this option may be a better alternative than having a distracting bright glow coming from the subject’s eyes.

Kate Lamberson

Little Rock, AR

<p.Shot Watch

I use a technique I actually learned at one of your workshops that I would like to submit so all Videomaker readers can use it. One of your instructors taught us that we should record the first twenty seconds of a new tape with material that we don't want to use because editing software needs pre-roll before it can capture audio and video. He shot his watch for the first twenty seconds which put both the date and time at the head of the tape. Great idea! I just shot a documentary using almost sixty tapes and I'm not always the best at labeling them. But all I need to do is rewind to the beginning of the tape and see which day and time I started shooting and I know what footage is on it (and then I can properly label it).

Thanks for letting me share the tip,

Alex Theorodopulos

San Francisco, CA

4-Pin Dub

As everyone knows, a break in timecode can cause a real nightmare when capturing or using your footage in your project. I've heard of all sorts of ways to label shots in the editing programs to keep the confusion to a minimum but this won't help if you need to batch capture at a later time. Instead, I borrow my brother-in-law's camcorder, connect them together with a four-pin to four-pin FireWire cable and dub the footage from the tape with broken time code to a new tape. The new tape will have continuous, clean timecode.

Ren Jose

Frenchtown, NJ

Humid Cruise

On a cruise trip to the tropics, the high temperature and humidity coming from an air conditioned ship affected the internal moisture sensors of my camcorder, preventing it from operating until things stabilized for an hour.

To remedy this, I stored my camcorder above the refrigerator in my cabin where the heat from the refrigerator compressor kept the camcorder warm. It was just enough that the change from air conditioning to outside heat and humidity did not affect the moisture sensors and I was able to operate the camcorder immediately.

Bill Anderson

Columbus, IN

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