Try this trick to aid in composing and
framing your shots in the viewfinder. Cut a piece of clear plastic to fit
over the viewfinder’s glass face. Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on the plastic
and tape it over the viewfinder. This serves as a guide to observe the famous
"rule of thirds" that is always mentioned in articles concerning
composition. As long as you’re doctoring your viewfinder, this is a good
time to blow off those pesky dust spots with a soft camelhair brush.
Use What You’ve Got
Titling gives a polished look to any
video, but not everyone has a titling feature on their camcorder. I found
an easy solution by using a computer with a standard software application.
Use a paint program to type characters of any size, style or font on a black
background. Using a tripod, you aim your camcorder at the computer monitor
to record a slick-looking title. Because of the scan rate difference between
the camera and the monitor, there will be horizontal lines rolling through
the picture. If your camera has still frame ability, you can freeze between
bars, or just include the bars as a neat effect. With experience, these
simple computer-generated titles can be creative and fun!
Michael J. Nasvadi
Canal Fulton, Ohio
Shoot Your TV
For an exciting MTV effect, try playing
some previously shot footage on a TV, then videotape the TV using pans,
tilts and zooms. Add in-camera strobe, black & white and paint effects
for an artsy look.
Off the Wall
When shooting video of people outside, keep your eyes open for large
white objects to reflect light, such as large white walls. Just stand with
your back against the wall and your subject facing you. The wall will act
like a giant reflector lighting them. This will keep them from squinting–like
they would facing the sun, and the sun behind them works as a backlight.
It’s in the Bag
I like outdoor shooting, but live in a rainy area. After waiting too many
days for clear weather, I decided to figure out some way to protect my camcorder
from water damage. Try this: get a large plastic freezer bag (freezer bags
are thicker and tougher than sandwich bags, and can be found in sizes large
enough to fit over most camcorders) and put your camcorder inside of it.
Make sure the bag’s opening is facing down, so you can get your hand inside
to hold the camcorder. Make a small cut in the edge of the bag, just big
enough for the lens to peek out of the plastic. Tape the bag to the side
of the lens, and you have a raincoat for your camcorder. The bags are cheap
enough to throw away when you’re done, so keep a few in your camera bag–just
in case. You can use the plastic to protect your camcorder from sand at
the beach too.
Vancouver, British Columbia
I like to travel, and I am often times shooting video out of the car.
The biggest problem shooting this way is the sun reflecting off the dashboard
onto the front window and messing up the shots. To counter this problem, take a piece of
black cloth and cover the dashboard with it. The cloth
eliminates the dashboard’s reflection in your video.
Patterson, New Jersey
Editing made Simple
I’ve never seen it mentioned in magazines
or instruction manuals, but most VCRs can do frame-accurate assemble editing
with this trick. Record the first part of the source that you want to keep
on the edit copy up to just past where you want to "cut." Stop
the copy deck, then rewind it slightly and use Play in slow motion to come
up with the last frame you want to keep. Hit Pause, and then Record. Without
pushing stop and the recorder will hold on that frame but go into record
mode. When the source recorder or program reaches the next part you want,
release the copy unit’s pause and you have a smooth edit into scene 2 on
the copy. Try it, I didn’t think exact frame editing could be done so easily,
but it works.