When transferring photos to video, I use the most simple tool available: a see-through clipboard made of
clear Plexiglas. The clip securely holds photos in position, and is invisible if you fill the frame with your
photo. If you want to get fancy, you can use double-sided tape to affix the photos in the center of the
Plexiglas, then tape different backgrounds to the back of the clipboard for some interesting 3D effects.
Backgrounds can range from simple colored paper to enlarged photographs or magazine spreads.
We all know from reading the pages of Videomaker that properly white balancing your
camcorder is essential if you want to get good footage. However, it seems that the most common
instrument mentioned for setting white balance is a sheet of white paper. I’ve found that medium-gauge
white polyester cloth works best, because it’s sturdy, wrinkle-free and you can carry it around in your
pocket without ruining it.
The Natural Look
If you want to record people looking as natural as possible, put a piece of black electrical tape over the
camcorder’s tally light. This will prevent your subjects from knowing exactly when you’ve depressed the
record button, allowing them to remain relaxed and avoid the psychological pressure of being
When I am making a video and I need to move the camcorder and tripod short distances, I place a
small glass on the foot of each tripod leg. When you’re on a smooth surface (such as a low-cut carpet or a
hardwood floor), this allows you to move the camera very smoothly. I find that this system works
especially well for macro shots; I’ve used it to move out from a single face in a small group photo to a
wider shot that includes everyone in the shot.
Osoyoos, British Columbia
Any inexpensive character generator, including your camcorder’s built-in titler, can provide an inexpensive
way to add graphical elements to your productions. Most titlers have an asterisk character, which you can
enter in the appropriate quantity and spacing to make simple pictures. You could draw a heart shape, for
example, around a couple’s first wedding dance. If your character generator supports color, make the heart
pink or red. Use your imagination to come up with other simple pictures, or check the Internet for
examples of creative ASCII-art.
John P. Boylan
Dover, New Hampshire
If you have access to two cameras, you can save time and editing generations when shooting stage
productions by using the following technique. Place one camera on a tripod at a wide-angle setting to cover
the whole production. Use the second camera for close-ups of the performers, zooming in tight on their
faces at critical moments, then quickly swish-panning to another face. Pay close attention to the audio on
this camera; because it’s closer to the action, it will pick up higher-quality sound than the other camcorder.
When editing, use the closeup camera’s tape as your edit master and insert the wide-angle shots to cover all
the swishpans. Using this method, you can save a generation on the close-up shots–and with a little bit of
planning, you can create some very impressive edits with a minimum of fuss.
Tricks with Rubber Bands
Ever have trouble unscrewing a filter from your camcorder lens? Placing a small, tight-fitting rubber band
around the barrel of the filter before you screw it on will keep it snugly in place, and make it easier to
remove when it’s time to change filters.
I also use a rubber band to securely hold the viewfinder’s diopter ring in place. After some usage,
the diopter can become loose, especially if people with different prescriptions use the camera. A tight
rubber band will secure it in position and still let you adjust it when necessary.
Fort Erie, Ontario