Video has many
horrors to contend with: just a mention to a film maker
that you work in that medium will cause gastric distress
to many. I fortunately use that distress in many of my video
pieces because to me it is a new and more wholesome form
of "splatter movie". But in many cases you just have to
blurt out that you work in motion pictures because the pictures
do move. Sometimes they move up and down rapidly on the
TV monitor and it's called "jitter". To get rid of jitter
you have to have several TVs around and then you just try
different combinations of each until the image stabilizes.
It's expensive but it works so what the hell!
Try to make dubs from your masters at home because in a
professional lab the machinery has a hard time with consumer
model-made tapes. It's a kind of mechanical snobbery that
results in atrocious image definition. Also, the aisles
in many of the video labs are too narrow and the technicians
bang into the cables, etc., causing massive glitches.
When you tape outdoors or in bright light try to escalate
the shutter speed or put on a dense, neutral density filter
to cut down the exposure. In video, just as in life, the
brighter the light the darker the dark side. Just examine
the downfall of Jimmy Swaggart and you'll see that rule
in full swing. Little camcorders make big, jumpy shots.
When I hold my little, Sony TR-5 close to my chest you can
actually get a visual read-out of my heart-beat via horizon-line
Use the shoulder strap and apply tension and stability by
pushing the camcorder away from you and toward your subject.
The further the machine gets away from your body the more
appealing the result. The tape itself doesn't like to be
touched and I guess that goes for the camera too. People
say video is very cold and aloof. So video is like a cat
and film is more like a dog.
I keep hearing that the image looks better if you shoot
under bright lighting conditions but I find the reverse
true: low-light sequences appear sharper at times because
it looks like you can detect a "grain". So try it out and
see which you like better. Human subjects also look better
under low-light and bald spots tend to fill in along with
the skin pores. I've gotten flattering portraiture results
shooting the live subject in a dimly lit room and hitting
the face with two flashlight beams. Adjust the flashlights
so that shadows are eliminated from the features. Couple
this with a diffusion filter and you get very flattering
results. You can also use a sheer, black cloth to soften
the image, but be careful when you put it on the lens with
a rubber band that the excess portion doesn't rub against
the microphone and create background sounds that would suggest
a potential skin chafing outbreak.
So much for now as I have to go and do errands like mail
away cassettes for friends. Please remember to never mail
video cassettes off in envelope mailers padded with sofa
stuffing. Bubble-wrap shock absorbers are the way to go.
Don't wind up like your mother, who bought that big, expensive
sofa years ago which has now turned into a series of sandbags
that are spilling onto the rug. All that powdered crud will
ruin the contents of all it touches, so beware! Someday
if mom is in the path of a rampaging creek that sofa may
come in handy, but right now it's an eyesore and nasal irritant.
Good luck on your videotaping, and be just as proud of Japan
as you were of Switzerland when BOLEX ruled the world.