Smooth as Butter
I was bothered by the jerkiness when I manually zoomed my camcorder. As a member of the tool-making species, I purchased a foot of 9/32-inch-round brass wall tubing from the local hardware store. This cost less than a dollar. I cut a piece about 4 1/2 inches long and slid it over the short manual zoom button as an extension. Other sizes may be necessary for different cameras.
In full zoom position, the tube could drop off, but it tends to hang on if the camcorder remains steady. If your local hardware store doesn’t carry the tubing, try a hobby shop.
Flash in the Pan
I’ve been shooting weddings for several years now and I use two cameras at all times. I lock down one camcorder, focused on where the bride and groom will stand. I shoot with the other camera from any allowed vantage point.
In order to synchronize both tapes during post production, I roll both tapes before the ceremony begins. I aim the mobile camera at a spot seen by the stationary camera. I then fire off a flash from my 35mm still camera in this spot. If you look at a videotape that’s recorded a flash, you can see that the flash wipes out everything in the frame of video.
I search for the “all white” frame on each tape, and then zero out the counters on my editing controller. Now both tapes are in sync. This is much easier than trying to find the same frame of a hand movement or footstep.
Don’t Blow It
When using balanced mikes in conjunction with an external mixer providing phantom power to the mikes, you must cut the power before unplugging the mikes.
Failing to do so can damage the microphone input, preamp or op amp. Even worse, it can cause a blown preamp in camcorders that accept balanced mikes.
This “what went wrong?” mistake can be frustrating and expensive, but is preventable.
It’s in the Box
I shoot about one wedding a month. I priced some of the “wedding album” VHS boxes available at discount and photo stores, but felt they were too expensive for what they were. My solution: I bought a case of white plastic VHS boxes, making sure to get the type with a top to bottom clear sleeve which covers the front, spine and back.
I always ask the client to provide me with a wedding invitation. I trim the imprinted part of the invitation to 4.5 X 7.5 inches to fit under the front sleeve, using a dab of glue to keep it in place. I then slide in and glue a 1 X 7.5 inch computer-generated spine label listing pertinent information about the wedding.
Finally, there’s room under the back sleeve to fold and slide in an imprinted napkin or other keepsake from the wedding or reception. Now my clients receive professional looking customized boxes for their wedding tapes–for a total cost to me of under a dollar a piece.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
If you need to protect your camcorder from the rain, use an industrial strength, zip-lock freezer bag. With some creative cutting and a few elastic bands, you can make a tight-fitting opening around your lens and microphone. The plastic is crinkle free and almost silent. Position the mouth of the bag at your camcorder’s battery for fast, easy changes.
The only holes you need to cut are for the lens and microphone. Since the plastic is clear and smooth, you can see and push all your camcorder’s buttons, work the zoom control and use the viewfinder while keeping everything dry.
Plus: with a felt pen, you can mark critical camera notes on the bag. For larger camcorders, you can find bigger bags at most warehouse food stores.
Along with some other Videomaker readers, I have experienced a problem with my TV and VCR when using my remote control.
Remote controls seem to have minds of their own. Thinking my three-to-five-year-old equipment was the problem, I began shopping for new stuff until I read an article about energy saving fluorescent bulbs causing operating glitches in some A/V components. These glitches result from phantom frequencies transmitted by the bulbs.
To my surprise, when we shut off the lights where my equipment was, the problem disappeared! This has worked for my friends as well. So if you’re having problems with your A/V gear and its remotes, take a good look at your house lighting.