When copying slides or movies from a screen, it’s best to get the projector and camcorder lenses
as close together as possible to avoid alignment problems. But this usually makes it very difficult to
access the controls of either machine, and you can never get perfect alignment anyway. But if you look
through the ad pages of Videomaker, you’ll find a number of ads for items like candid mirror
scopes. These are right-angle mirror boxes that screw onto your camcorder lens. You can also use these
devices to get a perfect 90 degree angle on your projector. This allows plenty of access room to work,
as well as excellent alignment.
Seen any mysterious flying objects in your video lately? Here in south Texas, we have an abundance of
wind, and no matter how securely you dock your lens cover to its bracket, before long you’ll be seeing
UFOs. One solution uses two 3/4-inch pieces of velcro, the kind with a stick-on backing. Place one
piece on the back of the lens cap and the other on the bottom or side of your camcorder. Presto! No
more flying objects. Even inside where there is no wind, this looks more professional than having your
lens cap dangling from a string.
Corpus Christi, Texas
The Long Count
I read in your magazine that re-packing new Hi8 tapes before use will help eliminate dropouts. What I
do is to record green or blue (any color will work) on the entire tape, and then rewind it. Any device
that will generate color will work. This packs the tape. More importantly, if I shoot scenes with gaps
between them, the color will fill the gap, and the real time counter on my VCR will not lose its
Here’s a way to get 1/30th of a second accuracy for your musical sound track. Copy the music you
wish to use to the audio tracks of a new videotape. Simultaneously, record visual time code on the
video portion. If you can’t generate visual time code, shoot the face of a moving stopwatch. Now, use
this newly-made videotape as the music source while editing. You’ll be able to locate the exact frame
of music, down to the note, by listening to the music and noting the visual time reference on the tape.
You will need an extra monitor to do this.
This will work especially well if you have jog/shuttles on your VCRs. To maintain accuracy, you’ll
have to experiment to find the right lead time for your deck (the time it takes for the VCR to come out
of pause and begin playing).
One of your articles suggests shooting stage plays from the back of the theater as a wide shot. I’ve
found it’s far more useful if the camera can follow the action from a 3/4-shot to a head-and-shoulders
shot. These shots resemble most TV sitcom shots, and they’re better at capturing the intimacy of the
To shoot this way, you must know the blocking of the play so you’ll know which actor to follow.
You must shoot with two camcorders, preferably from two sides of the stage, or shoot two shows. This
will give you the best coverage, and make editing easier. If you’re going to tape a play, do it in a way
that’s a learning experience for the actors and yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Los Angeles, California
Sometimes ideas stare you in the face and you don’t see them. Here’s one: when I read
Videomaker, I hold a highlight pen (cost: about a dollar). When I come across something I
want to remember or show someone else, I highlight it. When my videomaking friends borrow the
magazine, they read the highlighted parts. It also helps me to remember if I’ve already read a given
article when I pick the magazine up at any later time.
I enjoyed your article “Shopping for Tripods and Stabilizers,” but you missed the mark in one
area as most magazine articles on tripods do. I’ve been using tripods for many years with ball-joint
fittings. The ball-joint fitting goes between the tripod legs and the tripod head and allows adjustment of
the pan/tilt head to almost any angle while still retaining the pan/tilt capabilities of the head. Then,
whether you’re shooting on uneven ground, rocky surfaces or a tilted floor, it’s still easy to get a level
shot. Cinematographers have been using ball-joint tripods for years. Why shouldn’t you?
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin