In our News & Technology segment, Mark has news from Cyberlink, HP, NewTek & Sony and Derek has some news on a few video sharing sites to watch including Stumbleupon.com and vodpod.com, plus free internet phone calling through Google.
Our Tips & Techniques segment shares some of our favorite “Best Of” tips from this past year.
In this week’s “Take 20”, we’re getting ready to contact our finalist for our 2006 Short Video Contest, and we are taking a look back at some of our winners from the 2005 contest.
Mark Montgomery: And I’m Mark Montgomery.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And we’re going to give you a little bit of some of our best of, because it’s holidays season and we’d like to show you some of our favorite tips and techniques from the past. And we’re in the middle of revamping some of our show, and when we come back in January, you’ll see a whole new different set. And a look, we’re going to start doing some more hands on tips and techniques. We’re going to actually go on field, on location.
Mark Montgomery: Yeah, we’ve been listening to your feedback and making plans to adapt.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Right. So, on that note, we’re going to show you one of our favorite tips and techniques which was on tripod use, so, let’s take a look.
Brian Peterson: Hi, I’m Brian Peterson.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And I’m Jennifer O’Rourke, and this is our tips and techniques segment.
Brian Peterson: And we went a little long last week, didn’t we?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yes, we did, who would’ve thought that we can talk so much about tripod?
Brian Peterson: I think we did.
Jennifer O’Rourke: We did, yes.
Brian Peterson: And we’re going to talk to you more about tripods this week. We’ve really covered only about half of what we wanted to, so, we’re going to kind of start from the bottom up, right?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Right, right.
Brian Peterson: We’re going to start with feet. And I’ve noticed, can I have a wide shot, I’ve noticed you wear some really nice shoes. Was there a connection here?
Jennifer O’Rourke: There was a connection, I knew we were going to be wide, so I thought I should wear my nice shoes instead of my grubby shoes that I usually wear at work.
Brian Peterson: Ok, we’ll start about tripod feet.
Jennifer O’Rourke: All right, tripod feet.
Brian Peterson: All right, we’re going to have a few different flavors. We’ve got the spiked feet-
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yes
Brian Peterson: Those aren’t really spiked, well, they are actually-
Jennifer O’Rourke: That’s pretty spiked.
Brian Peterson: So we got spiked feet, so let’s grab one from here. All right. So, talk about why you would use spiked feet. Actually, these aren’t. I grabbed the one that doesn’t have spiked feet. How about that? Let’s grab another one.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Here we go. There it is.
Brian Peterson: We know that’s there.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Same brand, different tripod.
Brian Peterson: Okay, so I’m going to go get it closed so we can look at it this way. Maybe Andrew can come here. And as we can see, we’ve got rubber to start with. But, if you would just screw these down a little bit, all of a sudden you get these nasty looking spikes. Why?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah. Some people think that you use this to level the tripod with, and you don’t. You actually need the spike for certain types of shooting, for instance, on ice.
Brian Peterson: Well, that would be a good one, how often we have a shot on ice?
Jennifer O’Rourke: I think maybe once.
Brian Peterson: Okay, I think I’ve done it once. Really thick green shag carpet would be another. I’ve got it used here.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Oh, yeah…
Brian Peterson: However, when you’re inside, you want to make sure that the spikes aren’t there, that you tighten these down, because they do wobble out of place, and over time, even though you don’t touch them, the spikes will eventually kind of creep through. And if you don’t hardwood floor in somebody’s house, you may-
Jennifer O’Rourke: Scratch something, yeah.
Brian Peterson: scratch somebody’s new refinished job, so… But the spikes are very helpful in cases where you have uneven terrain. Sometimes, dirt is a really good example.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Dirt, yeah, yeah. And it’s actually a nice little feature for, if you plan on using a doll or some sort of device that you put the tripod onto, the dolly will often lock into the spikes better than the rubber tips. And we have some tripods, actually have it removable. When you put the cup, rubber cup over the spike, just when it opens and poses it’s all right, you don’t have to worry about losing the cup, but there are that kind too.
Brian Peterson: Right. So, very good, make sure that if you do have the rubber on there, that you be careful also on white surfaces. Some of the rubber actually can leave black marks.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yes.
Brian Peterson: So you want to be careful about that as well. Sometimes just a little tape, as long as your tripod is locked down with spreaders, which we’ll get to in a moment, it won’t be slipping all around, but at least it will save the floor.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah. Yeah, and your spikes will slip around on a light linoleum floor.
Brian Peterson: Yeah, maybe even rubber on tape, but at least we’ll be safe. All right, so what do we want to cover next?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Flippers.
Brian Peterson: Flippers?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Flippers.
Brian Peterson: Okay, let’s talk about a different ways to lock down the tripod. We’ve got a few different varieties here. We’ve got, if you want to back up, we’ve got what can be called a flipper. It’s essentially just a locking mechanism which has a screw and often times these screws can be turned to one side or the other to increase the tension of the flipper. And then they just lock down like that. It’s a one stop lock, so sometimes these tend to get loose, and that’s why pulling them out, screwing this one and tightening that down, over time that will be necessary.
So, we want to make sure that when you have one that slippers, that you always give a kind of a bump down, to see if it’s starting to slip a little bit. Because if that’s the case, you put a relatively heavy tripod on here, or if it’s getting warm outside, or hot, like a 100 degrees, these are often times made of plastic, and sometimes even that, the expansion contraction, it’ll start slipping. And I’ve seen this stuff happen
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Brian Peterson: when the camera starts to lay in real time, and this is when you have to dive real quick.
The other kind, we have a knob.
Jennifer O’Rourke: It’s a screw off.
Brian Peterson: This knob right here is probably the most popular of its designs. You’ll see this on most heavy duty tripods. It has an interior locking piece of metal that really jams up against that leg and tightens it around a preformed or prefashioned piece of metal. The heavy duty stands from Matthews, C stands, that sort of thing, all use the same type of method.
And again, I personally like these the best because they don’t deform the metal and they’re pretty much solid, even in heat.
Jennifer O’Rourke: It looks like one, when you do have a tripod open, your camera set up on it and everything, you realize you need to raise it or lower, it looks like it’s easier to do it this way than the other ones too.
Brian Peterson: I think so, I think so too. These are quicker, these are certainly quicker, but these, I think you can really get a lot better feel for not going anywhere.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah.
Brian Peterson: Yeah. So, all right, those are the different ways you can lock down your legs. Let’s move up a little bit, further, what do we have next that we are going to talk about?
Jennifer O’Rourke: We have the mid mount versus the bottom mount spreaders.
Brian Peterson: All right. So let’s put this guy out here, this is the mid mount spreader right here. The spreader is nothing more than a mechanism to keep things from spreading out further than they should, right? All right, so why don’t you, why don’t you tell us about different types. We have that type of spreader, and-
Jennifer O’Rourke: and what we don’t have here is the down which is the lower mount which is pretty low. And those are the kind you want to have if you have a more solid camera, a thicker camera, a heavier camera. The lower your mount, the more stable your pieces will be. So if you have a large camera that has a teleprompter on it, for instance, or if it’s going to be on a dolly, then you want to have the spreader down a little bit lower.
Brian Peterson: Right. So those are very, very positive, it’s not going to go anywhere, it’s not going to splay out on you. The other kind is kind of a modified spreader, which Bogen makes a lot of these type. These are all loosened up. Coming out, you have an option of what would be considered to be probably a normal splay, which would be this. You just have to make sure that you lock them all down to get it in the place. To move it, you can move one independently, or all at the same time.
The neat thing about these is that, look it, sometimes you can go nice and low.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Really low. Yeah.
Brian Peterson: Still want to make sure you lock these down because otherwise you’re going to be putting way too much tension on the joints right here. But that’s pretty solid. Now, how do we go lower than this? There’s one other way, remember? The chain.
Jennifer O’Rourke: The chain. The resistance chain.
Brian Peterson: Yes. We don’t have example of one here, but they do come in a variety where just a simple chain and a connector, you can actually hook into the very edges. And this I don’t believe has the chain hole in it.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Hole in it somewhere, yeah.
Brian Peterson: But you can hook around a portion of the leg and in most cases where you can remove these pieces right here and even get lower. You’re only limited by the post at this point.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Right, right. And there’re actually, there are some posts that it can raise up higher or lower, so you can actually get the tripod itself higher or lower. You just want to be careful you don’t raise the tripod and post itself too high, because you lose that stability that you’ve been working with on that tripod.
Brian Peterson: Right. Okay, so that’s feet and spreaders.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And now we have a really interesting spreader here. It doesn’t have any inside, and it opens up like that, and definitely, this is one of those you would want to put in and spread it out before you even get the tripod on. I mean before you get your camera on. That spreads out pretty low, too.
Brian Peterson: This has locking mechanisms right here, is that right?
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah. There are locks, and you kind of push them in and spread it out, and it can go lower, lower, lower. But, when you use something like that, you lose a lot of stability right there because it doesn’t have a spreader in there, so,
Brian Peterson: Right
Jennifer O’Rourke: you have to be really careful on what kind of shots you’re going to be getting.
Brian Peterson: And this is carbon fiber, so it’s already built in, it has a little flex and almost everything it does already.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, yeah. And it’s pretty solid, but still, if you want, if you do a quick shot, it’s not that easy to set it up and tear it down.
Brian Peterson: Okay. What else can we cover in here in few minutes?
Jennifer O’Rourke: We talked about head mounts last week, we talked about the food heads versus the fluid like. Wait. And tilts and pan locks.
Brian Peterson: Oh, that’s right. We haven’t touched on tints and pan locks. Ok, this is kind of, the real basic stuff. And what you pay for in better heads. You’ll always have at least two controls. You have your tilt right here, and on the back here, we have a pan. Now, the two brands of these are locks and tensioners. More expensive heads will have tensioners, which applied partially will actually give you a varied degree of your tilt and your pans, and that becomes really important, especially with lighter camcorders. You want to have some resistance, so that you, the minor changes and the way that your arm moves, you have too much coffee, something like that, will really fluid out that motion.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And if you have a little bit of give on it, it’s going to make less shaky.
Brian Peterson: Yes, exactly. You’ll get less caffeinated movement. And of course, the same thing goes with tilt. A little bit of friction make for a more resistant move. Less, little less so.
The one thing you want to make sure that you do, and this is something that even pros, some of us are, I know, healthy of it, when you have your camcorder in the top of the head, you want to balance it as much as possible. So, as long as you got your hands next to it, when you lock a camcorder in place, move it forward or aft or to the rear row a little bit. See where it balances, without this locked down. And if you’re balanced, then if you forget to lock this down, it’s not going to who whoom like that. That’s bad.
Jennifer O’Rourke: That’s bad. And that’s what gives you, that’s why when you look for the place, we talked about it last week, the place where you can actually move back and forth, that’s where it’s a real benefit, especially if you have a heavier camera.
Brian Peterson: Absolutely. All right. I think we’re going to wrap up now. We can continue this conversation further in the future. But we wanted to give you one last piece about getting off the tripod. Actually, I’ll get this back. Getting off a tripod and going hand held.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Hand held.
Brian Peterson: There are a lot of different ways to stabilize your hand shots, and a lot of reasons to do hand held. Though, the one thing that we’re going to suggest is, you can still use a tripod, but sometimes you have to move quickly. So, remember, tripod can be your friend in all sorts of circumstances. Lock it down here, you can shoot, and when you have to go, then you can just go and run off with it. Using that to lean on.
Of course, you have the classic bring-it-to-your-body approach. You can stabilize your arm right here. That’s one way to go. How else? We’ve got walls around us.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Lean up against the wall.
Brian Peterson: Lean up against the wall.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Against the wall and, you know, you become the human tripod, basically.
Brian Peterson: Actually I was going to demonstrate this, but we’re running out of time, you can actually lean against a friend.
Jennifer O’Rourke: On a friend.
Brian Peterson: This works as well. So, a couple of different ways. We’ll talk about how to move a camera later, doing hand held. But those are just a couple of ways to stabilize your shots when it’s off the tripod.
Mark Montgomery: So, when in doubt, and you’re shooting, using the tripod is probably the safest bet. But if you’re not comfortable with the tripod, or looking for something a little bit more mobile than tripod, try considering using a monopod. They’re also a great way of getting a stable shot, but are a little bit more flexible to work with. Actually, you can do some unique techniques using that as kind of like a boom as well.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah.
Mark Montgomery: They’re kind of fun to, good for intro tripod techniques.
Jennifer O’Rourke: Yeah, and we actually did a review on one. We actually showed it right here on our show. It was a man photo Bogen tripod that had a little feet on it, and it was actually cool, made for DV camera use, not still camera use. And it has a nice ball-bearing grip to it, so check that one out, too.
Mark Montgomery: Yeah.
Jennifer O’Rourke: And I guess that’s Tips and Techniques for this week. Thank you for joining us.