Build Your Own Boom
Need a boom pole to hold your mike for an occasional project, but don’t want to spend a lot of money to buy one? Why not build one instead? A telescoping pole with a suction cup, like the ones designed to install or remove light bulbs works great.
Remove the suction cup, and attach your mike with a piece of tape or rope. Extend each section of the pole and you have a boom. You can wrap your mike cable around the pole or use a piece of gaffer’s or masking tape (1/2-inch wide) every 18 inches to secure the wire to the pole and keep it from drooping. A 25-foot microphone cable is adequate for most jobs. Remember to leave some cable at the camera end of the pole.
If you don’t have anyone to hold the pole while you shoot, an extra tripod works great. You can attach your boom pole to the tripod with a nylon cord (see photo). I use a soft cloth between the tripod head and the pole as a cushion between them.
Adjust the tripod to position the mike just above your subject. Check the viewfinder or screen to make sure you don’t see the mike in your shot. Nobody’s holding the boom, so you don’t have to worry about audio disturbances being transmitted along the pole. If you do employ someone to hold the boom, instruct your assistant to "lower the boom" between takes. It can be a very tiring job! The boom person must hold the pole very steady and quietly during the shoot in order to avoid transmitting sounds that may be picked up by the mike.
Cable Quality Control
I discovered a cheap (free) and easy way to test video cables for electromagnetic interference pickup. The procedure consists of connecting the cable that you’re going to test, from a known clean video source (a camcorder, set to camera mode is excellent) to a TV set or monitor that you know to be good. Pass the cable directly in front of a computer monitor, right against the glass. Be sure the computer monitor is on and displaying something. Poorly shielded cables will display diagonal lines on the TV set or video monitor, while cables with superior shielding will pass clean video.
My tests showed that a higher priced, double shielded cable passed clean video while a lower-quality cable picked up obvious interference.
Proceed with caution, readers. Exposing your screen to high level magnetic fields could leave semi-permanent patterns in it. You may want to keep a degausser handy just in case you have any trouble.
Label of Love
I recently performed an 800-tape erasing job for a mock jury company. They had tapes that were up to 10 years old. I was supposed to erase and re-label each one. The problem I had was that the old labels on the tapes wouldn’t come off very easily. I used my hair dryer to heat up the labels, which softened the adhesive, and I was able to peel off the labels cleanly. You should make sure not to apply too much heat or you may melt or damage the tape. It took me about a minute to get them just right, but I was happy with the results.
Kyle T. Bryant
Another Handy Labeling Tip
I have been dabbling in video for almost 20 years, since the days when all VCRs were top loading and came with wired remotes. I’ve handled a lot of VHS tapes since, and guess what I found to be the most useful device? A roll of 3/4-inch masking tape! I use the masking tape to make temporary video labels.
I simply tear off a short piece, apply it to a blank cassette and write on it with a bold felt-tip marker to identify what’s on the tape. When the tape is fully edited, I tear off the masking tape and adhere a permanent label.
Unquestionably, masking tape is one of the most useful items that I have on my shelves!
Henry N. Perella