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Newsletter #72 - Oct 1, 2005

Equipment - Monopod
Sometimes a rock wall can be used to steady you and your camcorder...
Rock Wall
... but most of the time, one isn't readily available. I've been known for taking pretty steady footage, but I use any help I can get to make it even steadier.
John with Monopod
This is the first newsletter devoted to hardware. After a camcorder, what's the most used piece of video hardware? For me it's my fairly new monopod.  
I've had a tripod ever since I rode a tricycle... but it wasn't until this past Christmas that I tried a monopod. Over the 9 months we've formed such a positive relationship that I decided to dedicate this newsletter to it.
At the left, I'm at my grandson's football game last week, shooting his 2nd touchdown run in 3 years. The narrow bench was the only thing around I could use for a higher perspective of the field. Not much room for both the monopod and me, but it was pretty comfortable.
It's just the latest example of where a monopod has the extreme advantage over a tripod when taking video.
John with TripodA couple years earlier, I would fold the legs of my tripod together and use it as it was a monopod. With 3 legs and the more limited swiveling of the head it didn't work nearly as well. The picture at the right is an airshow in Chicago.
The only place to get a good view without lots of people was in Lake Michigan. Those are boats in the distance, not the other side, which is about 100 miles away.
... before getting into it, here are a few notes...

My new HP laptop is on order, but I don't expect to see it until I return from the MVP Summit...

... which is at Microsoft next week... I'll be cramped for time and computer capabilities, so I'll publish this newsletter before I leave, and then skip a week before doing #73.
#73 will take a look at current developments in custom xml files for transitions, effects and title overlays. The Persian Page of my site is pretty well along and about ready for my active involment.
I made a Puzzle Overlay on top of a 13 second segment from a Persian Poet Gal video. I also put a zipped file with all the ingredients needed to install the custom overlay in your Movie Maker setup... ready for downloading and use... over your own images and clips.
I've been thinking about how to easily manage all the custom files you can find yourself swimming in... those you develop yourself, and others downloaded from any of several websites.
...the solution is easy... store the custom files with your copy of my personal database (the free one you got from me... see below if you didn't) and add two records, one to install the puzzle parts, and another to remove them. With the two records in the database and the parts over to the side, when you want to use the puzzle overlay, click on the open icon in the database and it's automatically taken care of.
Install Puzzle Overlay
... and when you're done using it on that project, cleanup your Movie Maker working folders by clicking the other associated icon... you won't be accidentally removing other important MM2 working files as you search for and delete the puzzle parts.
Remove Puzzle
I'll cover how to use this feature of the database in the next issue, in addition to reviewing the xml subject.
With school back in session, the Intro to Movie Maker class at the library had a record number of attendees - 9 people. 8 of them using Windows XP and one Windows 98.
The library is holding a Technology Fair on Saturday, October 15. I'll be doing a one hour exhibit about Movie Maker from 2 to 3, a good chance to show off the new laptop, Movie Maker, and some of the fancier video samples... stop by if you're in the area.
.... on to the main topic

the monopod
Here's my Canon Monopod 100. It's small and light for traveling... 15 ounces (less than a pound), much lighter than my camcorder, and it feels good in your hand as you walk around. 
Camcorder and Monopod Folded
Swivel Head
The head has a swivel ball... which can rotate all the way up or down by up to 90 degrees in two directions.
Most of the models I looked at don't have the head swivel features to that degree, a desirable feature for quick and easy rotation, and changing directions on a dime... upwards to airplanes, skyscrapers and birds, and downwards to water and sand.

Fully Extended
When fully extended, the top of the base is 5-1/2 feet high... at that  level the camcorder is a bit higher than my eye level, so I leave it a bit less than fully extended.
The 3 clamps are easy to loosen and tighten, and I haven't had any slippage when using it extended.
This is a short main feature, but how much can you say about a simple device? But it's sometimes the simple ones that provide the hardware basics for your video shooting.
Reminds me of something I hear a bit about Movie Maker... "it's such a simple software app, how can you write books, magazine articles, and a website about it?".   

Conclusions and Closing
My wife suggested this topic... as she's always taking pictures of me taking video... you can tell from a couple pictures in the intro section.
I've met so many people who hadn't seen a monopod before, or didn't know what it was. They all have cameras, and most of them also have camcorders. Maybe this issue will be read by some who haven't seen them also.
The grandkids love it, using it as a saber sword... for a short while anyway... it's not rugged enough for what they really like to do with it.
I routinely carry a tripod with me also, but it's not my big one... it's one of those little 6" high ones that tuck into a corner of the camera bag. In a pinch, they work, a tad better than a table, chair, car hood or rock wall.

Have a great week...