Monitors on the Cheap
Several years ago, when I was trying to put together an editing studio with limited funds, the problem of how to get my hands on sufficient monitors seemed insurmountable. I use three or four cameras in my wedding videography service. In my post production studio, I synchronize all the tapes, then choose the best shots just as in a live telecast.
I had to buy high-end monitors for this, but my titlemaker monitor, my mixer monitor and a secondary copying monitor did not need to be that precise, so here’s what I did. I hit garage sales, church rummage sales and yard sales where they almost always have old computers, which, of course, nobody wants. Apple IIe (and Amiga) monitors are NTSC and have a simple RCA connection on the back. They don’t have any audio, but I did not need that for my purposes. And the best thing is that I paid next to nothing for each monitor. I even got some for free. My studio has become much more sophisticated through the years but I am still using three bargain Apple IIe monitors.
So. Yarmouth, MA
Sour Cream and Videography
Here’s a tip I found very helpful for owners of Sony Digital8 camcorders. The manual-focus ring around the lens, though a nice feature, often shakes the camera when you attempt to use it. It also works on an acceleration principle, making it difficult to use with any kind of uniform results.
To help, take a clean sour cream container and cut out the bottom so that it can fit around the focus ring snuggly. I used a compass to create the circle. Next, for aesthetics, take black tape and cover the outer surface of the container. Now when you go to focus, there’s less shake.
It works better because the larger diameter surface gives you more ring spin per single hand pass, which eliminates much of the shaking when you use it.
And as an added bonus, the lid can act as a lens cap. This add-on doesn’t look all that bad either!
It can be difficult to keep track of the footage you have on all of your tapes. Here’s a simple way to keep track of your footage. Take masking tape and stick a label on each videotape, writing something descriptive like Family Movies #5, for example. Then, as you shoot, log the contents of that tape on a piece of paper.
After you’ve filled the tape and all the segments have been listed, take the paper and type the list into a spreadsheet, word document or data base file on your computer. You can then use it as a quick reference when you need to know what’s on a particular tape. It’s a great and easy way to catalogue your raw footage.
Stephen M. Kessinger
Cape Coral, FL
Turn on, Zoom in, Trip out
I’m sure you’ve all seen the psychedelic patterns created by pointing a camera at the screen of its monitor, right? Well, here’s a way to incorporate video feedback into your own videos. This works well for dream sequences or scenes where a character is having a hallucination.
Set up your playback VCR as source A on your video mixer and then connect your camcorder as source B. Set up your monitor to show the mix coming through your digital video mixer. Set the camera on a tripod and point it at the screen.
Now put the video that you want to add an effect to in the VCR. Slowly drop the fader (set to mix, not wipe) from source A to B. When the fader is all the way to A, you see your original video. But as you lower it towards B and the feedback goes through the loop, your subjects develop trails and they pulsate. Play around with the zoom and tilt of your camera. By combining this with other effects, you can make really bizarre video. Best of all, it’s easy.
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
I recently needed to replace my PC motherboard. It isn’t too complicated but I just wanted to make sure that I knew where and how the cables were supposed to go. So I grabbed my camcorder and I made a short movie in which I explained how the components were connected. This way I got a reference of how things were before I changed them.
Juan Carlos Garcia