Video tip #1

16 Oct 09 03:58PM EST
Post by Laurence Grayson
Well this is a fine state of affairs. Only my second blog and already I find myself breaking promises. If you read my last post, you'll most likely be expecting to see a video walk-through showing you some of the techniques I used to put the new site promo video together.

Sadly, however, a recent bout of bronchitis has left me with a voice that skips randomly between Barry White and Harry Potter so, until it sorts itself out, I'll be avoiding anything that resembles voiceover work.

So here's a hardware tip, instead.

As I spend most of my time messing about with video gear, I'm occasionally asked what my favourite piece of kit is. Back when I used to shoot a lot of multi-camera setups, it used to be my clapperboard (like the one in the picture). While I needed this to help me keep my multi-track edits synchronised, the reason I loved it was because it made me look like I actually knew what I was doing on set.

These days, however, I have a new best friend - a Manfrotto 560B video monopod.

Like a lot of video makers who don't have broadcast budgets, I use a semi-pro digital video camera which, like practically every other camera in its price bracket, is an absolute bugger to handle for any length of time. It's too small to shoulder mount, too big to comfortably handhold, and it's guaranteed to give you back- and shoulder-ache when you're trying to keep it steady for more than a minute.

Of course, you can always drop it on a tripod, but decent video tripods are bulky, heavy and unwieldy. They have their uses, but I prefer to be a bit more mobile on off-siters. Which is why having a monopod with a fluid-head and quick-release plate is an absolute godsend. As well as taking all the weight of the camera while you concentrate on position and framing, it also extends high enough to shoot over a crowd without too much camera shake.

A simple camera monopod will do in a pinch, but the 560B has flip-out feet and the fluid-head allows for really smooth tilts and pans. You can even use the handle as an extra brace against your body for more static shots. The only thing I'd add is a spirit level, but that's just splitting hairs.

Take it from me. If you've got a chunky video camera, then you'd do well to look into one of these. I got mine from these guys, but you can find it cheaper if you shop around.

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