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We all have those little tricks up our sleeves…the tricks we use to fix it, shortcut it, or make it easy for ourselves.
Some years back I posted a quick little emergency “fixit” for those days when your last miniscule lav windscreen disappears. At the time I was experimenting with using my computer with a camcorder plugged in to see if I could record “live” into iMovie.
It worked. The way I shot the video I mean. And the trick works pretty well too. All you’re doing is creating a dead zone above the mike head that keeps wind from hitting the head.
Fast forward six years to today…or rather earlier this year. I needed a way to fix my Lectrosonics wireless receiver to my Panasonic HMC150. The body is so compact and nearly every surface has dials or gizmos that I couldn’t figure out where to attach the reciever. Out of desperation I would stick it in the hand grip…or pocket it tethered to a long enough XLR cable. Awkward.
Looked around on the Internet, but most of the fixes either didn’t look like they’d work with my camera or were way too expensive. So I did what any sane person with too much time on their hands would do…I diddled and daddled and did some thinking to boot and came up with my own gizmo.
I’ll make a video later on…but here’s the drill. Countersink a threaded hole into the plastic. Fill said hole with super glue and screw in the cold shoe. Wait for it to dry. Attach Velcro to fit. Put mated piece of Velcro onto your receiver (or whatever else you want to attach to the camera).
Cost: assuming I could have bought just enough for this one holder, probably less than $10. As it was, I bought enough plastic for four holders (around $14), five of the cold shoes at around three and a half bucks each, and the Velcro roll ran nearly $15. The super glue I had lying around the workshop.
What would I do differently? I got the cold shoes cheap on Amazon.com. If I do it again, I’d probably go for more heavy duty shoes…I can tell the ones I got are not sturdy enough for long term use.
Oh – and once I went to all of this trouble, I found exactly what I needed (same basic design, but metal) over at B&H.
So – two of my tricks are out of the bag…and my partner in crime, Larry Nance, is working on more fixits, make-its, and shortcuts for our book, The Basics Of Videojournalism. The OMB, VJ – the current day Jack (and Jill) of all trades.
A sudden awareness of something wonderful! And it all came about because a former reporter asked where the reporters were in the photograph of newsreel cameramen that graces my facebook page. I responded that there were no reporters…just cameramen until the late 20s when soundmen appeared with all of their apparatus.
No reporters for a visual storytelling media. Wow.
Well, of course – just ask Amanda Emily of newsphotog.com – there were writers back at the main headquarters, who took in the reels shot by the field cameramen and with the help of editors turned them into fodder for the masses.
But the sole responsibility of gathering information and visuals was done by newsreel cameramen, who were looked up to heros of the day.
In fact (I’m guessing here folks – and I know Amanda WILL correct me if I’m off base) there probably weren’t any real in-front-of-the-camera reporters until TV happened along.
So those of you lenslingers, shooters, camera carriers, BPJs, one-man-bands, videojournalists out there, laboring without any apparent support. YOU are who I salute today. You can trace your roots back to a noble profession that broke ground at the beginning of moving pictures.
Now quit wallowing in your glory and pick up that fifty pounds of gear and get back to work.
…for this excellent advice on how to choose a (not quite broadcast) professional video camera. Begins with good glass (and why), chips, manual controls and more. And the best part? The information holds value through (most) changes in technology that I’ve seen over the past (OMG) forty years.
Addendum: VM is on a roll today. Or maybe they’re just publishing stuff I find useful. Here’s article #2 on copyrighting and Creative Commons. Good stuff to understand.