Want to animate an object on a map, say an airplane or automobile? I draw a picture of my vehicle on
white cardboard, cut it out, and glue a little “pot holder” magnet
to the bottom. I make my map on cardboard or Bristol board. When I put the cardboard vehicle over the
map and another magnet behind the map, the two magnets attract each other. When I move the one in back,
the vehicle moves along the map surface. I tape a yardstick to the back as a guide and people gasp at my
On The Beat
Videos with a musical soundtrack will look better if edited in time with the music. Here’s a simple idea
which lets you “see” the tempo of a song and will help you edit if your VCR can do insert editing. Arrange
your camcorder to shoot part of a flat work surface. Cable your VCR so it will record live video from the
camcorder and sound from a music source. Start recording the music and keep time by tapping your finger
in front of the camcorder. When it’s time to edit in picture, use only the frames where your finger hits the
surface as edit points.
Oh, My Aching Back
Here’s a way to prevent straining eye, neck, and back muscles during extended shooting periods when
using your camcorder on a tripod. Find a six-inch length of two-inch diameter cardboard mailing tube.
Work one end of the tube into a square shape. With your viewfinder flipped up place the squared end
against the end of the viewfinder. You may need some tape to make it stay in place. Now you can stand
back in a normal position while viewing through the tube to keep your subject centered without getting
Often, I will get some very small photos to shoot for editing into the start of a wedding video. If you get
photos that are smaller than 3 x 5 inches, have them transferred to slides. Then you can project the slide
onto a screen at any size you want. This allows you to zoom in or out, pan or tilt, or even crop the slide the
way you want.
Camcorders and video cameras can see infrared radiation that is invisible to the human eye. To capitalize
on this ability, Hoya makes an infrared filter. Called the model number RM90, the filter actually appears
black in color. I tried fitting this filter to my camcorder and got astonishing results. Sky and water turned
black and clouds, trees, and grass turned white. Truly a striking effect.
If you have a VCR with audio dub, you can add an additional layer of sound while still keeping the original
track. First, copy your original tape. Put your original in the camcorder and your copy in a VCR hooked to
a speaker. Try to synchronize them as closely as possible. Start both machines at exactly the same time
from the pause mode (with the camcorder in audio dub only). Now the camcorder mike will pick up the
original sound plus any additional commentary or music you wish to add.
During a shoot, I’m often too busy to prepare permanent labels for my tapes. In the studio, I frequently
need temporary labels on the spine of works in progress. My solution: write directly on the spine of each
tape shell in pencil. Usually the plastic is slightly textured and the pencil is easy to read. If the plastic is
smooth, one or two passes of an eraser will dull the surface sufficiently. Eventually, permanent labels cover
the pencil marks.
I got to thinking about where I could get a “fish pole” microphone boom like the one shown in
Videomaker’s November Sound Reasoning column. Then I discovered that golfers use an extension rod to
recover out of the way golf balls. The one I found was about $15. I removed the little cup on the end. In its
place I installed a Radio Shack clamp-on mike stand adapter (part #33-372) and a slip on adapter (part #33-371). The assembly extends to nine feet and is very easy to handle.
Hull, Quebec, Canada
If the strap on your video bag, camera bag, or other strapped container is cutting down into your shoulder,
wrap it with a seatbelt cushion. Most auto parts stores sell a variety of these pads.
Carolina, Puerto Rico