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Make Sure You Are In Record

Now class, pay attention. You two in the back, knock it off. Alright then, this is a video camera, circa 1980's. And this is the recorder that attaches to it through this enormous cable that looks like a fire hose. I know it's huge and ugly and old fashion. But it's what I learned on and you're going to learn on it too. So just get used to it. You should try using one of these in the cockpit of a Cessna 172.

Right. So, you sling this strap over your left shoulder like this...girls, you may want some help with this...the thing weighs about 25 pounds. Of course, some of you have purses at least that big. Then your camera sits on the opposite shoulder like so. You look into the viewfinder here on the left side, and you can see what you're shooting. What? Shooting. It's what you do with a video camera. Filming is done with a film camera. Didn't you people learn that in film class?

OK, now when you get everything powered up and ready to go and the tape is in, you look through the viewfinder like this...if you don't see anything, it's probably because the lens cap is still on. No, they didn't have those little flip-out screens back then, because they didn't have LCD's back then. Don't forget to focus. You have to do that manually, you know. And adjust the iris manually too. And of course white balance, but we went through all that last week. Then when you're ready to record, you press this button right here just above the handle. You see that? It's that little black one there that they've hidden away as best they could. You'll know you're recording by the little light that goes on in the bottom corner of the viewfinder. Now this is really important, so listen closely. You've got to make sure that light is on, because there's no other way of telling whether you're recording or not.

Now the problem with this little light is it can be hard to see sometimes unless you really have your face smashed up against the view finder. I'll tell you what happened to me one time when I was in this class.

Oliver Powers was the instructor then, and he had been in a band called Debris when he was about your age. There was this Debris album laying around the studio. So we figured out one day that Oliver was actually in this group, so we decided to make a documentary about the band as our group project.

Well one of the girls in my group was a DJ at an Oklahoma City radio station, and she arranged for us to go up there one evening and tape an intro to one of the songs off the album to use in our documentary. The idea was that this other DJ who worked there would do a crazy intro for us while he wasn't actually on the air. You know, like during a song when his mic was turned off.

So we piled in the car and went up there, and we went into the control room. The DJ's name was Don Landee, and he was a pretty crazy guy. So he's giving us the intro and saying all kinds of funny things, and I'm standing there running the camera. Then all of a sudden, he picks up this large, like ten gallon trash can, sticks it on the desk right in front of the console, and we're seeing water splashing out of the thing, and then he sticks his head in this trash can full of water! Headphones and all. There's water going everywhere, all over the console and the record players and stuff. It's a wonder he didn't short out half the on-air equipment.

So I'm thinking that this is going to be like the greatest video ever, right? So we load up and go back to Norman, and I go into the edit suite to start editing this thing. I'm there by myself. In fact, I stayed up all night long editing the thing, because it was due the next day. That's how college students tend to operate, but I guess you guys already know that. Oliver found me the next moring asleep in the voice-over booth.

Anyway, I come to the part where I'm going to cut to the DJ scene, and I put in that tape and start watching it. I'm seeing something funny looking, and I keep watching it and pretty soon realize that it's my leg. I'm in the car on the way to OKC and the camera is sitting there on my leg pointed down at the floorboard. So I shuttle the tape ahead, and I'm looking for the DJ shots, and pretty soon I come to the end, and there's nothing else on the tape. I had the thing in record all the way there, and probably all the way back, and paused the whole time this guy was sticking his head in the water. I didn't get anything from that shoot. No intro, no crazy antics, no head in the bucket. Nothing. I was really sore.

So remember when you go out in the field, and you've got your crew there and your actors and props and whatever, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN RECORD! Look for that light in the corner of the viewfinder, and don't be satisfied until you see it. Any questions?

7/12/09

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