Handwriting on labels can get quite messy. I found a Web site that has a great labeling program: [link removed- no longer active]. This simple software is free and easy to use. Finally, I can read the information on my labels. I hope other readers will enjoy it too.
Lafontaine, QC, Canada
No Mike Jack: Take 1
The In Box letter from Gene McConnell (Videomaker, April 2002) described the inability of attaching an external mike to a camcorder not equipped with a mike jack. I have solved this problem on two older camcorders. With bit of courage, a little ingenuity and perhaps the help of a handy friend, it is a fairly simple matter to disassemble the on-camera microphone sufficiently to get at the wire leads. Wire a small mike jack (with an internal switch) to these leads, leaving the internal mike wired to the normally closed switch position, and mount it at a convenient location on the camera body. This should be a fairly easy task for anyone handy with basic electronic assembly. The external mike should match the electrical characteristics of the mike used on the camera. If in doubt, try a couple of different types of mikes till you get one that works well.
Palm Bay, FL
Readers should be aware that this advice may get you an external mike, but this will definitely void your warranty and could cause permanent damage to your camera.
No Mike Jack: Take 2
I just read the letter from Gene McConnell about buying a camcorder with no mike input. I recall a recent post (on the Internet) from a fellow who installed his own. Another option is to use a portable MiniDisc (MD) recorder with a mixer for audio captures. I recently acquired a Behringer MXB1002 portable 10-channel mixer for use with both my portable MD recorder and my video camera. The MXB1002 operates from three nine-volt batteries, and offers both XLR and 1/4-inch TRS balanced inputs. It is a well-built, affordable field mixer, which also comes complete with rack ears and an AC adapter.
Pacific Grove, CA
I owe Videomaker a vote of thanks for the article in the February 2002 issue about how to make a sound screen. I modified the instructions somewhat and made a box with one end open so it really is a booth when I lean inside to use the mike. The box is made of plywood and the bottom is hinged so it can swing open and latch on the outside. This way, it becomes a cover for my editing station and does not take up any extra space. It is roughly 30 inches high, 24 inches wide and 16 inches deep, and is lined with egg-crate foam. I can’t thank you enough.
Cue Card Plus
When working with a new host on our cable access program we found her to have some difficulty remembering her lines. A quick trip to the local office-supply store gave us a tool that we now find indispensable.
For around 10 bucks, I bought a 17- by 24-inch dry-erase board. This is our erasable cue card. Held out of frame by my producer, our host has no problem with her lines anymore. I’ve also found it to be a perfect white balance card. It has proven itself as a light reflector as well as a scene marker.
I was using a tripod to tape my daughter’s birthday and started to move to the other side of the room by folding in the legs of the tripod without collapsing them. I grabbed the tripod about in the middle and let it rest horizontally in my hands as I repositioned. I realized that the camera was moving with great stability. I opened up my LCD screen, turned on the camera, lowered it to ground level and started following my daughter while she crawled around on all fours. Because of the tripod’s counter balancing in this configuration, I got some great "steady cam"-type shots. It works even better with a wide-angle lens.