If you plug certain headphones into a camcorder that lacks a volume control, the resulting sound will
be too loud and distorted. One solution is to purchase a headphone volume control for a couple of dollars
from Radio Shack (part #42-2459). It comes on a short cable between a 1/8-inch stereo plug and jack, and
will allow you to adjust the volume to your liking. On my Sony CCD-TR700, I looped the cord and taped
the jack to the outside of the camcorder handle to provide strain relief for the connectors.
Buffalo, New York
Have you ever had a hardwired hand mike become a nuisance to talent when moving about, because
the attached cable was always in the way? Try running the cable under an elastic hair band wrapped around
the ankle of the talent. As the talent moves, so does the cable. This allows the cable to come directly off the talent’s foot, where they’re less likely to become entangled in it.
While I have an excellent heavy-duty video tripod, I found it too big and heavy taping certain small
wildlife subjects. What I needed was a “table-top” video tripod suitable for field use. Unfortunately, most
table-top tripods are not good enough for video, nor do they have the crucial quick-release feature. I have
searched for such a device to no avail.
As a last resort, I went to the closet and pulled out the old tripod I used to use. The only problem was its
size. It had all kinds of handles for all kinds of movements, quick release and level indicator. I needed a
tripod about 12 inches high, so I cut off the legs to a mere 4 inches. When set up it forms a base 7 inches
wide. The base is 12 inches and I can still adjust the height another 6 inches.
Not only is this tripod heavier than anything I’ve found, it makes good use of old equipment. It is a
great aid, not only for my nature work, but also for my copywork and my love of filming all things small
out in nature.
It Keeps on Giving
A great idea for a gift to a college graduate is a video of their life. Start with videos of infancy through
childhood and teen years. Include videos clips and photos of friends; sports videos, candid photos and
newspaper clippings are a plus. Add music so you will not bore the in-laws.
No matter how simple the production, it will be a gift they’ll cherish for many years.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Using factory NiCd batteries on my Canon L2 camcorder got to be a real pain. I was sick of NiCds
with or without the memory problem, and unhappy with the cost of enough batteries to last for a full day’s
shoot. The solution came at a local electronics surplus store where, for the paltry sum of $5.00, I acquired a
sealed, rechargeable 6-volt 10 amp-hour battery.
I rewired a Canon DC-100 adapter with a cigarette lighter plug, put a jack on the battery and put the
whole works in a $7.50 camera bag. Now I’m good for a steady five hours of shooting before changing
I use a 2-amp trickle charge overnight to bring the unit back to full charge. Now, the only time I use the
NiCds is when shooting with my Steadicam JR.
The same method can be used with any 6-volt camcorder, simply by modifying the adapter that
connects to the AC power supply unit. Just be sure you observe polarity when wiring the adapter.
We frequently use a pair of JVC S-VHS VCRs to edit two-camera shoots without the benefit of time
code or an edit controller. Here’s how we do it: we select a common event on tape as a sync-point, “zero”
the counters, back up an equal number of seconds and frames, and start playback from a common
Selecting the common event is the trick: sometimes we use a slate, but many times do not. If the event is
a concert, we use the conductor’s foot first landing on the podium, or the first movement of the baton. Our
most accurate sync-points are provided by audience members with flash cameras. A photo flash is typically
captured on just one video frame. You can advance by single frames to find it, then zero the counters. To
confirm your accuracy, start both units from a common remote, and listen to both decks through an audio
mixer. Your ears will quickly tell you if things are in close sync.