If you have the Videonics TM-2000 CG (character generator) or any CG like it, you can use it as a video
prompter. Just write your dialog and store it as a scroll in your CG. Then hook up the CG to a monitor
and place the monitor just under your camcorder where the talent can see it. Find a scroll speed that’s
easy for your talent to read and you’re in business.
A good way to transfer photographic images to video is to use an economical 4:1 close-up lens like the
kind widely sold for still cameras. Once you’ve attached it, set the camcorder on a tripod about eight or
nine inches away from your artwork. Instead of moving the photo in or out, you now can use the zoom
control on your camcorder to crop the artwork. Forget any macro lens setting you have and use the focus
ring or autofocus feature.
Richmond, British Columbia
Here’s an interesting way I devised to check the frame accuracy of my editing VCRs. I made a circular
piece of paper about the size of a record album with numbers marked all around the edge at regular
intervals. I then placed this on a 33rpm phono turntable and fixed an arrow pointing at the edge of the
platter. I videotaped this and on playback, each frame had a different number lined up with the arrow. I
then put this tape in the source machine of my editing system and made a cut edit with one of the
numbers at the start, say number five. When I checked and found that number five was at the start of the
finished edit, I knew my editing setup was frame-accurate. The more numbers you put on the paper
circle, the more accurate the test will be.
Hard travel cases for camcorders and accessories are simply too expensive. My solution came while
walking through a sporting goods store. I found an Igloo brand lunch cooler called the Playmate. It
makes an excellent carrying case for most VHS-C and 8mm camcorders. It’s easy to customize; simply
buy some foam rubber at a crafts store and cut it to cradle the camcorder and accessories. Larger 52-
quart coolers work well for transporting additional equipment like lights, tapes, mikes, cables and
Fix your Focus
The viewfinder on most video cameras has a diopter that allows you to adjust the focus of the viewfinder
image to match your eyesight. This is usually in the form of a twisting ring or a sliding button. Quite
often, this will slide or move out of adjustment in just a short time. To fix this, I find the best focus for
my eyes and then tape down the ring or button so that my viewfinder stays focused and in place. Scotch
tape works best for me but a stronger tape might be better for some camcorders.
Instead of using a neutral density filter to deal with overly bright situations, try using two polarizing filters.
Screw one into the other, and then screw them both onto your lens. To use them, simply rotate the outer filter
to block the incoming light in varying degrees. If you rotate it a full ninety degrees, it will progressively
block the light until you actually fade to black. You can use this effect for solar photography as well as for
simulating night-time shoots in varying lighting conditions. Notice the effect of rotating the filter while
watching the reflections on glass, water and other reflecting surfaces.
One Less Generation
Would you like to add charts, maps, graphics and photos without losing a generation? All these items,
especially computer graphics, tend to suffer when edited out to the third generation (distribution copies).
Here’s how to get around this problem: instead of shooting them ahead of time, simply shoot them at the
time of editing. As you edit, when you require one of these shots, simply take the master tape out of your
recorder and put it into your camcorder. Be sure to leave a little room at either end for editing purposes.
Now put the tape back in your recorder and edit, using the extra footage to cut into on the edit. Now you
have first-generation artwork on your master tape.
San Diego, California