Tip on Music Editing with Your iPod

If you use Final Cut Pro and you want to insert a song from your iPod, just connect a mini-to-mini cable to the iPod; then go to Voiceover in Tools; set your iPod to the song you want and hit pause; then hit record on Voiceover. When the record message appears, hit play on your iPod – the song will go directly to your sound track. This also work in iMovie – just use the record button. It saves time and allows the use of different iPods without conflict.

Walter Fritz

Video Instructor, Patch HS

Stuttgart, Germany

What Is That?

In the May 2008 Lighting column, Using Practicals, there is reference to a “flag.” What is it? How is it used? What is it made of? Is it attached to anything or is it freestanding?

Bette Powell

A flag blocks light that might spill from a lamp or window into the camera lens. It’s similar to shielding your eyes from the sun by holding your hand above them. It is usually opaque and black and made of poster card or foam core. A flag is sometimes called a cutter, because its purpose is “cutting out” light. If it’s small and lightweight, you can attach it to a light stand, but it is usually attached to a stronger support called a C-stand.


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Don’t throw out your old tripods or light stands that have broken heads, as they make great C-stands in a pinch.

-The Editors

Kids and Legal Video

I enjoyed reading Ms. O’Rourke’s Tips for Videotaping in Schools story. The tips were timely for a documentary I’m working on, but I have a particular concern that I need to address.

Your story mentioned keeping the teachers and parents informed and staying legal, when shooting your own child’s classroom or activities, but what if you’re a complete stranger?

My documentary is on the diminishing programs in public schools, like music and art, and I need a substantial amount of classroom or schoolyard video, but I don’t want to show faces of the children. I’ve seen news footage that cuts off the heads of people they’re trying to disguise, or uses the “Black Dot,” that backlit darkened face image, but neither are very stimulating shots. The cutoff head shot looks like an amateur that doesn’t know how to frame a shot, and the other looks like a 60 Minutes criminal mugshot. How can I legally get the shots I need, and do you have any artistic tips for shooting better shots, while still obscuring and protecting the children’s identities?
Frederick Weaver

Washington, D.C.

These are very good questions, Frederick, and we can see your dilemma. You need two tips: one on staying legal and honest, and the other on being creative and making your video interesting.

To help you and others with similar needs, we’ve expanded our video-in-schools story for our eNews Exclusive feature in the August eNews. It offers tips that professional journalists use for creative visual storytelling when they can’t show faces, along with a look at the ethics of videotaping children.

Meanwhile, a quick note on the legal aspect of your question: whatever you do, in this sue-happy society, always always always stay on the up-and-up when videotaping children. You can never over-inform parents or school officials as to your actions, and it will save you a lot of grief in the end.

Our recent What’s Legal column in October 2008 addresses shooting people in a public environment. If you simply stood on the public sidewalk and pointed your camcorder at kids in a schoolyard, you might believe that you’re within your legal rights to do so. But, ethically (and legally) you’re putting yourself in danger. Even worse is trying to covertly videotape the children from your car. Eww… creepy!

Find a contact who knows you and your reputation as a video producer, and ask for a personal introduction to your local school principal to inform him or her of your intentions, and go from there. Don’t try to be sneaky.

Look up our expanded story for more about legally shooting in schools and some creative tips on shooting this type of story. It’s easy and free to sign up for eNews on our website. You’ll find exclusive stories and sneak-peek looks at our product reviews weeks before the paper issue comes out.

-The Editors

eNews: Preserving Family Stories

The eNews story, Keeping Your History from Fading, is a really great article, and it will really help me do a better job of archiving our family’s history. The article covered a lot of ground, but the one I’m having the most trouble with is 8mm film conversion to digital. I’ve searched the web hi & lo without any real success. Can you help?
Gary Geithmann

Try this, Gary: www.digmypics.com/8mmReelTransfer.aspx

Of course, generally, you get what you pay for. A high-quality telecine and operator/colorist will cost many thousands of dollars. But if it’s not for broadcast, this may do just fine.

-The Editors

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.