Change the Factory Settings on your Tunable Microphones

Tune In

Recent technical innovations and price reductions in wireless microphone systems have been great for video producers. These days you can get a quality UHF system for a relatively small investment. Many of them allow you to choose from thousands of frequencies, which means your audio interference problems are gone forever, right?

WRONG! The tunable microphones come from the factory with a frequency already selected, and when you test it before your project starts the microphone will no doubt sound great. But what are you going to do if someone else also bought a microphone from the same company and unexpectedly shows up at the same place and time you are shooting?

That happened to me at a wedding. The DJ and I both had brand-new microphones and apparently we both left them on the factory default frequency settings. When both microphones were turned on (naturally, this was after the wedding had started!) my receiver suddenly got garbage audio.


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So, the tip is this: before you use a new tunable microphone, read the manuals thoroughly about how to change frequencies, and then CHANGE the frequency. The odds are very small that someone else will pick the same frequency. But if you leave it on the default setting, and someone else is equally lazy, the odds are big that you'll eventually encounter them when you least need audio interference. And you probably won't figure out what happened until it's too late for the easy fix. You just can't interrupt a wedding to change frequencies!

FYI–I changed the mic channel for the reception and had no problems after that. Fortunately, I always use two microphones during a wedding, so this project's audio was sub-par but not lost.

Bill Perry


Green Screen

Recently, I needed a green screen for a simple composite I was shooting. I was ready to bite the bullet and order one, as that sort of thing is not available locally. I was shocked to find the shipping was more than the screen, since the length of the roll demands an extra mailing charge.

I improvised with a $20 lime-green bed sheet from JCPenney. I stapled one edge to a length of molding, and duct-taped the ends to a couple of fully-extended tripods. Voila! The Shoot finished with a savings of $100+. Incidentally, I picked out a Jersey sheet (which was cheaper, anyway), as it shows wrinkles less than the smoother blends.

Charles Henson


If you plan to use a lime green bed sheet as a chroma-key green screen for your videos, you might want to make sure your editing software can adjust to non-standard chroma-key colors first. Another tip: rather than trying to achieve perfect lighting in an indoor setting–
a very difficult proposition at best–take your sheet outdoors and hang it on a clothesline or something similar. The sun is one of the best ways to provide the flat, even lighting that chroma-key work requires.

— The Editors

Back to Tape

Whenever I edit a video on my computer, I always make sure to save a copy back on DV tape at full resolution, even if my final product is going to be a VHS tape, streaming video, CD-ROM video or DVD. Why? Because video files take up too much space to keep on the hard drive for very long, and DV tapes make a great archival format.

For a while, I was dumping the original footage onto DVD-RW discs, but this process became cumbersome, as each DVD-RW disc only stores half as much raw DV video as an hour-long DV tape. Also, DVD-RW discs don't allow you to perform batch captures, and they take up more physical space than a DV tape. If you have a DV VCR that accepts the full-size 120-minute DV tapes, so much the better.

I also make sure to keep a printed copy of the nonlinear editor's batch capture list along with the source tape, so that I can easily re-capture and re-edit the original footage in the future.

Alice Billups

Los Angeles, California

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