My partner and I occasionally do two-camera shoots, usually for weddings or graduations. To perform A/B-roll edits “on the fly,” I play back the two tapes in sync and mix between them using dissolves and wipes.
It can be somewhat tricky to remember all the transition points, especially when I’m rolling for 20 or 30 minutes without stopping. Working off written notes can be distracting, because I need to focus on the monitors and controls.
My solution: when doing a practice run, I use an audio tape recorder to record my voice. I simply narrate the transitions as I’m making them. When I perform the final edit, I play back my narration and follow the “director’s” (my own) verbal instructions.
Bow, New Hampshire
I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to videotape in-flight with the Canadian “Snowbirds” Air Demonstration Team. In preparation, I needed an adhesive tape to secure all my mike/camera/monitor connections. I cringed at the thought of the tacky mess I’d have to deal with after removing the adhesive tape.
To avoid the hassle of cleaning up this sticky residue, I enlisted the aid of a veterinary bandage product commonly called “vet wrap.” It sticks only to itself–not to feathers, fur, skin, cables, batteries, camcorders etc. This inexpensive product gave me the security and convenience I needed for the shoot. I have found it a great addition to keep in my camera bag. It’s about $2 a roll, and comes in a variety of colors. If you need to affix something to your camcorder, you can’t go wrong with vet wrap.
Gayle P. Smith
When you’re videotaping a still photograph with your camcorder, here’s a way to make the people or objects in the photo look much more real and “alive.” This technique requires a video mixer with paint and strobe effects to process your camcorder’s video signal.
Connect your video camera as an input source to the mixer, and connect your record VCR to the mixer’s output. Turn on the mixer’s paint and strobe effects. While shooting the image of the photograph, move the video camera (or the photo) from side to side, up and down, in and out, etc. This creates a sense of motion.
Use adequate light, and shoot close enough so that the edges of the photo are not visible. Try to keep light reflections to a minimum. With this technique, the people and/or objects from the photograph will often look amazingly real in the video footage.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I bought a padded nylon compound bow case for half the price of a tripod carrying case. The bow case is not as compact, but it has more padding. I can get my tripod with a mounted camcorder into the bow case with the tripod set at about half height. This is ideal when I am shooting wildlife video, because I can extract the equipment quickly and in one piece. The bow case then becomes a kneeling pad when shooting in snow or wet ground.
Larry De Kock
Rochester, New York
I own a Videonics Titlemaker, and the backgrounds it generates are great. Sometimes, though, I need a background that the Titlemaker doesn’t offer. That’s when I head to my books and magazines. You can find great looking backgrounds in books and magazines–simply shoot the photo and super your titles over it. This will also work if you have a camcorder with a built-in character generator.
Kyle T. Bryant
Planning to transfer old silent movies of sporting events from film to tape? Here’s a surefire way to spice up the soundtrack.
The first step is to make a general sports soundtrack cassette. Record marching band music on one channel, and cheering crowds on the other from a sound effects tape, record or CD. You can often obtain these from
your local library.
Record the music and sound effects one at a time onto a stereo reel-to-reel deck, or record music and effects at the same time to different channels of a standard cassette. This allows you to set each channel’s volume separately.
Now plug the output cable from the recorder into a “Y” cable–this gives you only one RCA plug to connect to the audio input of your VCR. If you have a stereo VCR, you’ll want music and effects combined on each audio channel. Use a small mixer in place of the “Y” cable.
This is a great way to breathe new life into those old silent home movies.
Note: these last two tips are valid, provided your video is for personal use only. If your plans go beyond personal use, especially for outside entertainment or profit, be warned. You need to first obtain permission from the music or print publisher before using any copyrighted music, sounds or images in your video.