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Alive and well in Hollywood, CA!

Sleeping With Your Equipment

Are you sleeping with your equipment?

Get familiar with your equipment!

I know that is a strange title, but what it means is that you need to know your equipment. Now your equipment can mean something that you own, borrow or rent.

At an afternoon wedding shoot long time ago, I rented and picked up a wireless handheld mic and receiver. It had a digital display, OMG, my first. At the wedding I had a heck of a time trying to make heads or tails of how to make the wireless system work. I really didn’t ask the man at the counter for a quick once over. That was a mistake and could have been costly if I didn’t also have my own lavaliere mic (Or lapel mic for you young wiper snappers.) with a long cord to record the ceremony. When I brought it back and told the guy at the counter that I couldn’t make it work, he gave me credit. I was lucky.

If you are going to do a shoot, you should be familiar with how your equipment works. Get what information you need at least the night before your next day shoot. Set it up at home as if it is a shoot and pretend to shoot. You may get lucky and have the manual with you or it is early enough to call somebody if you have a problem with any part of your equipment.

Cameras are the thing I want to focus on today. The choice at one time was only analog and tape. Now you have digital and no tape cameras. You have the choice of shooting on a camera with a hard-drive in it or you can shoot with one (Expensive) with small removable flash drives, no moving parts. So the camera most people shoot today with, the recorded video is laid off to a tape system which will one day go the way of the tight leather pants.

Recently I was put into a position of showing up at a shoot to help shoot and ended up the shooter. I was christen with the role of making a digital camera work that I never held in my hand before. Just a reminder, I’ve shot on other digital cameras before. But this one had a lot more buttons and the menu was like a small novel. Damn you Sony.

Some may say it is like driving a car. I say what if you get into that car, (yours is 4-speeds) it has 8-speeds and two reverses with a double clutch. And the guy out side of the car says, “On your marks, set, go.” Yes, you have to fiddle and find.

Most cameras come with an “automatic mode” and it has a green square to show that. Because of time, that is the mode I went with. Good thing I had my glasses.

I’m familiarize with menus on cameras but using this one is like being a good cook and going into somebody’s kitchen and trying to figure out where are all the pots and pan are stashed. The sound menu is a chore. This camera had XLR inputs (Don’t know what that is, email Me.) and a hidden min-mic input.

The menus says, channel one in, channel two in, one out ext, two in int., ext/int both, mini? I don’t know, it was hidden. I don’t know! So I had to roll the roll the dice and thank goodness we were shooting at an old folks home and somebody was playing monopoly at the time.

I found a channel, put a lavaliere into it and we got sound.

You want your equipment to be your “BFF.” So it is very important to familiarize yourself with all equipment you are going to use for a shoot. If you are going to produce shoots, you should have a little idea of what is going on. Especially if you are a crew of one, two or three.

So why stress yourself the day of and maybe miss shooting and have to return the money from your client. So sleeping (A metaphor.) with your equipment and taking care of it as well as learn what it can do for you, is a good thing. Together, you could end up producing some good work.

Little tip: When I rent cameras, because there were other renters with this camera before me, I make sure I reset all the functions in the camera to “Factory Default.” Then I make my changes. This way I don’t end up with a camera that the last guys tweak to show a lot of extra reddish tint everywhere in my video. Ohhh that sure would suck.

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That’s just me.
Andre Campbell
139 West Prod.

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