Video Tips: Beanbag Cam, Wide Angle & Macro

Tips and LETTERS - * Reader question: BP: "Why can't I load the Vidcast?" * TIP: JO - Beanbag cam & clothes pins * TIP: BP - Wide angle & macro * BP - Survey * PLUG: Contact us at: Web /forum Page

Video Transcript

Brian Peterson: Welcome to Tips and Letters. I’m Brian Peterson. Jennifer O’Rourke: And I’m Jennifer O’Rourke. Brian Peterson: And we’ve got just one letter, actually, today. And it’s one that we’ve received from more than a couple of people, so we figured we will direct you to a place on our website. The letter is short and sweet, and it’s not all that angry, so I’ll read it. It says, hi, I’m a long time subscriber who is having difficulty viewing your vidcast on one of my computers. What is needed? I have a LAN in the house, a computer on the wireless connection works okay, but one, older one doesn’t work. Unfortunately, as you probably can expect, we can’t get into the minutia of the teching anybody’s conection- Jennifer O’Rourke: Why that doesn’t work. Brian Peterson: Why doesn’t it work? Jennifer O’Rourke: That’s a big problem I’m having, too. Brian Peterson: Yeah. All of us had have it in one time or another. Sometimes it has to do with a browser, updates, that sort of thing, but to answer the question. We have a FAQ on our web page, so all you have to do is go to our web page with the vidcast, where we have our streaming media right here, at wmb’s. and down, a little bit lower, you go to view FAQs. Go ahead, you can click on that, and we have several different main questions that hopefully will answer your specific question. If not the technical detail, at least it will give you an idea where you need to go to at least diagnose what’s going on here. So, if for some reason, your question isn’t answered here, go ahead and send us an e-mail at, and if it’s one of those that seems to be one that we’re getting from a few people, we’ll certainly put it up on this FAQ, and make sure that others can benefit from that same input. Jennifer O’Rourke: Right. And for this poor reader, Bob, well, actually, he probably posted in one of our upcoming letter segments in the magazine, since we can’t lock it. Brian Peterson: We can’t say that exactly, it’s kind of like a book on how to read. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, exactly. Brian Peterson: All right. Well, thanks, Bob. We’re going to do some tips not from readers this time, but- Jennifer O’Rourke: But from us. Brian Peterson: From us. Because, hey, we’ve got tips to share. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, yeah. We’re experts, we know, all this stuff. Brian Peterson: Yeah, right. Jennifer O’Rourke: You know, what triggered this one from me, what I wanted to talk about is, I was editing a piece that I shot, and it was two and a half hours long, and it was almost all handheld. And, I started on the tripod, but the moment I started shooting, a group of people stood right in front of me and I had to yank it off the tripod and so there I am doing handheld for 2 and a half hours. It’s a little shaky. And if I had brought this, I made this. Little beanbag, I could have propped it up on my lap, or a table. And camera works great on beanbags. You can prop it up like that, you can mush it up a little bit. Or filter it around so you can prop it up, and prop it down a little, depending on what your direction you’re shooting. Another thing that I like to do is, I take clothes pins with me everywhere, and take one apart, and they make really good little wedges. Props. Brian Peterson: Oooh, yeah. Jennifer O’Rourke: Or to prop the back end of it like that. Brian Peterson: Great idea. Now, this is something for those of us who are guys, we’ve got wallets in our back pockets. We tend to use wallets a lot for doing that. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah. Brian Peterson: But the one caveat to that. I’ve lost two. Jennifer O’Rourke: I’ve done that too. Brian Peterson: Doing it that way. Jennifer O’Rourke: Depending on what you have, it’s kind of bulky. Yeah. But take the clothes pin, they do have a little bit of a wedge on them. Or this one obviously not as much, but you can prop them a little bit more. It’s solid, it’s flat, it works pretty good. Brian Peterson: Right. And those with the wedge actually, at least the way you had it before, still allows to do some focus underneath that wedge. So that’s kind of neat. That’s the one thing you want to make sure will lock your shotgun to a low angle like that, that you still have access to your focus ring so that you can change on the fly if you need it. Jennifer O’Rourke: Now the way I actually fixed the problem with the shooting, since I was shooting handheld, and I was sitting on the ground and propping it in my lap. And that was the best way to get it for two and a half hours. As I just can’t hold it like that for a two and a half hours. Brian Peterson: Big question, what kind of beans? Jennifer O’Rourke: You know what works the best? The white beans. I’ve tried pinto beans, I’ve tried black beans, and actually the white beans are the best. Brian Peterson: You really have? Jennifer O’Rourke: I have. I have. And I’ve actually, you know what I did to, you know those really soft beanbag-like looking pillows you see everywhere? Don’t take those apart. I cut one up, I was going to make it smaller, and I opened it up, and pooof, everywhere. It’s still in my garage. When I slip in there it looks like it’s snowing. Brian Peterson: Okay, yeah. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah. Beans. Brian Peterson: Tips from Jennifer. All right, we’re going to do another tip, and actually, leave the camera here for a moment if you would, because I think I could prop. It’s spring, or at least it’s supposed to be spring, depending on your part of the country, you’re either still in a boat trying to get down the river, which used to be your front drive way, or like here, last week it was pouching a 100 degrees and it was raining. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, we never know. Brian Peterson: Spring is going to happen really soon, there are going to be flowers out, there’s going to be a lot of outdoor opportunities to get some great, great video. And a lot of that video comes from close up work. Jennifer O’Rourke: Close ups. Brian Peterson: Real close ups. And it’s called macro photography for the most part, because it allows you to get very, very close. Now, there’s a few things you want to consider before going out and shooting. One, you want to make sure that your camcorder actually is capable of getting up close. Now, most camcorders, like this, don’t have what you might normally have seen on a still camera, which are depth of field, DOF, often times you’ll see that, depth of field rings that will actually tell you how much is going to be in the focus in front and behind the subject. That’s what depth of field is. That range of kind of acceptable focus. Jennifer O’Rourke: Okay. Brian Peterson: Now, you don’t have a scale to rely on, and so really, you’re just using your, zooming in, and you’re using manual focus. Try not to rely on auto focus, because especially if your subject is moving a little bit, you want at least control the cene, this is what’s acceptable for me in that range. Jennifer O’Rourke: Right. Brian Peterson: So,… Jennifer O’Rourke: You don’t want the background. Brian Peterson: You don’t want the background. So, find out if you have lens to get up close, all you have to do is to stick your finger up in front of the camera, zoom in, and adjust your focus and, you know, see if you can get a few inches away, that’s certainly very, very good for doing like, close-ups on flowers and that sort of thing. But, now this is how you get control over your depth of field. There are three things that influence that – the width of the angle of the lens, so wide angle lens are used to zoom out all the way on your camcorder, that’s as wide as your camcorder will go. Now, we’re not going to go into putting an attachments and that sort of thing. You can do that, but just zoom out, all the way, as wide as you can go, you get an increased depth of field that way. But, to get up close, what you have to do is if your camcorder was wide. Jennifer O’Rourke: You have to get in closer. Brian Peterson: You have to get in closer, which reduces the depth of field, so this is all about compromise. The last part which you really have the most control over is the amount of light and the related aperture that you’ll need to correctly expose for that. So what that results in, and let’s say, you don’t have the rings here, but most of you probably have cameras that have the F-stop on them. Very much the same here, it’ll be internal through menu. So, the smaller your S-stop, it actually translates to larger the number, so like F22, F32 means the smaller hole that you’re looking through will get you more depth of field. But, the corollary is you have to get a lot of light on the subject. So here, if you use the reflectors, let’s say a flower is your subject, get a reflector, get two, maybe three, you know, throw a light on that. Jennifer O’Rourke: Throw a light on it. Brian Peterson: And, stop down. Jennifer O’Rourke: Stop down. Close your iris. Brian Peterson: Right, stop down as far as it will go. Now, some camcorders really don’t have a lot of capability of getting very small, those that do will give you more depth of field. So, again, your greatest control is put a lot of a light on the subject, stop down, use manual focus, getting relatively close. And it’s just a compromise with how close you’re going to get. And that’ll just get you that ring. If you’re doing a bee, or something, get as close as you can without getting stung. Jennifer O’Rourke: Without getting it, yeah. Brian Peterson: But if you’re on a zoom, that zoom will give you very, very little depth of field. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, and a lot of people think that’s what you’re supposed to do, zoom in closer. And you don’t zoom in, you pull, you zoom out, move your body closer. Brian Peterson: Move your body closer. So there you are. But it’s all about compromise. Anyway, I hope that those tips help. Just don’t get stung and don’t mess muss. All right, one last thing I want to bring up before we close this segment, here at Videomaker every year we put together what’s called Editorial calendar. And that’s the plan for the year. Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, it’s fun, we’re right in the process of getting one right now. It’s great. I get thrown around all over the place. Brian Peterson: But, the biggest part of planning that calendar is knowing what our readers, and in this case viewers, hopefully to become readers, what they want. Jennifer O’Rourke: What they want, a-ha. Brian Peterson: And so, we’re going to be sending out a survey, we’re just putting finishing touches on it right now, and we’ll be getting it out hopefully next few days. And if you’re a subscriber, we really encourage you to take the time to fill this out. We’re not trying to sell you something, we’re really trying to find out what it is that you want. So, help us with that. And if you can spend a little bit of time, you know, it’s just going to take five minutes, it’ll be online, it’ll be web only, it’s just a bunch of clicking buttons and we’d really like to hear from you, so… Jennifer O’Rourke: It really does make the difference. We planned a lot of our calendar this year around it. And we’re not, it’s not random stories that we throw in there, we really want stories that you want to read. Brian Peterson: So, if you have a chance, go ahead and fill that out. I’ll be sending out an e-mail to ask you to do that very soon. So if you see that e-mail from me, our team, please don’t trash it. Jennifer O’Rourke: We’re not selling anything. Brian Peterson: We’re not selling anything, we just want to know what you want. So, that’s it for this segment, we’re going to move into, actually, you’re going to stay here. Jennifer O’Rourke: I’m staying. Brian Peterson: And we’re going to be doing Take 20 next. So, until next week.