Adventures in DSLR Feature Film Production: Screw Mount Stuck in Camera

I was testing out a camera mount I bought that attaches to a car via suction cups. I screwed  my DSLR on and tested the mount on the car windows on the inside of the car. It worked great. It really stayed on the window. It stayed on the window too good, as the screw mount came off with the camera.

It was really on there tight and would not come off. Immediate fears included:

  • The screw being on the camera forever, thus damning the camera to never again know the touch of a tripod.
  • Stripping the threads on the “mount hole” or whatever it’s called inside the camera, and likewise damning my camera to never again mount atop a quick release plate. Or thus damning me to some hefty camera repair fees.
  • My efforts to fix the camera would result in breaking it.

I searched around the internet and found this forum post. One contributor posted this solution:

You will need two nuts screw them on to the thread then tighten them against each other as tight as you can. use the bottom nut to unscrew them post.

And another poster echoed that solution with:

Get two 1/4″x20 nuts and put them on shaft. Unscrew with wrench using the bottom nut.

This solution sounded interesting and cheap, but I was having trouble visualizing it. Wouldn’t the nuts just unscrew? Would I have to tighten one nut by loosening the other?

I was also finding solutions that included pliers and good grip. Maybe that would be easier? Maybe a little WD-40 would help?

As I continued researching the internet, I read somewhere that the stainless steel in the screw and the stainless steel in the camera threads could actually weld if they were tightened too hard. Yikes!

Nervous to take tools to my camera, I took the problem to Yahoo Answers, here’s the link. I received 4 responses within a few hours. Here’s what I learned:

  • I needed to to try the dual-nut method using two 1/4 inch 20 nuts. I think the 20 means the nuts are stainless steel. Two wrenches would be needed to tighten the nuts together.
  • Never apply any oil lubricant to your camera, especially around the mount as the camera mount threads on your camera do have spaces for the oil to enter your camera. Since oil doesn’t evaporate, once inside your camera it could go anywhere and do who knows what.
  • The camera threads might get stripped using pliers or vice grips to remove the screw shaft.

So, thanks to the vote of confidence for the dual bolt method, I went to the hardware store and got the two 1/4 inch 20 nuts, as well as another wrench so I would have two, per the recommendation.

First, I removed the lens from the camera and put on the protector cap. This protected the lens and made the camera easier to grip between my legs.

ASIDE: I feel with all this talk of mounts, screws, tightening, and “between the legs” there’s no way to escape  intense sexual imagery, so I’m cool with it, happily married, and hope we can live in a world one day where there’s no shame connected to the beautiful human body.

I spun on the two nuts on the screw shaft, then tightened them to each other. To “tighten them to each other,” with two wrenches I tightened the bottom nut counter-clockwise and the top nut clockwise. This method made the nuts tightened together on the screw. For some reason I thought I had to keep clockwise tightening pressure on the top nut while I applied counter clockwise pressure to the bottom nut. I don’t believe this was necessary. I think just moving the bottom nut counter clock wise would work fine. Moving the screw clockwise tightens it further and could make matters worse. I made a few fractions of a counter clockwise turn and wasn’t sure anything was happening. When I took the wrenches off however the shaft unscrewed easily by hand using the nuts as a grip. The shaft came out quickly and none of the camera threads were damaged. Once I had the two nuts and two wrenches, the entire process took a few minutes. And no incredible amount of brute strength was needed. I tested mounting the camera on a quick release plate and everything works fine.

Tech Tips: Converting Music from YouTube Videos to MP3s

Let’s say you find a video on YouTube that features a song you’d like to listen to on a CD, in your iPod, etc.  Here’s what you do (this works on both Macs and PCs)…

1. Find the web address (URL) of the YouTube video.  It’s usually listed right on the YouTube page you’re watching or just grab it from the browser.

2.  If you do a web search for a website that can download YouTube videos, you’ll probably find a bunch of sites, such as: http://keepvid.com/

3. Enter the URL of your YouTube video at the above website, per the website”s instructions.

4. Choose to download the video into a non-Flash format, such as a .mpg file.

5. Open the downloaded video file in Quicktime Pro.

6. Export the video file to an audio file, such as a .wav file. Or just try importing the .mpg video file into iTunes and skip to step 8.

7. Import the new audio file into iTunes.

8. In iTunes under the Advanced tab, click on “Create mp3 version.You may need to change your iTunes preferences if you do not see such an option.

9. Make sure you have permission to posses this new mp3 audio file.

OR…

If you have a pre-amp or other such audio interface, and if you do, you’ve probably figured out this cheat.

1. Insert a cable with two male ends from the headphone jack of your computer into the input jack of your pre-amp.

2. Record the audio using Audacity or a similar audio recording program.

3. Convert to mp3 using iTunes as mentioned above.

4. Make sure you have permission to posses this new mp3 audio file.

Tech Tips: Rebuilding iPhoto Thumbnails

I’m always having trouble with the thumbnails in iPhoto–I have loads of photos that are no longer on my computer but are still in my iPhoto thumbnail gallery.

I found the way to have iPhoto rebuild your thumbnail gallery if while iPhoto starts up hit command (or the apple key) and “option” at the same time.

Thanks to this article at Silver Mac: http://www.silvermac.com/2006/rebuild-cache-iphoto06/

Tech Tips: Seperating First and Last Names into 2 Columns in Excel

Say you have an Excel list that contains both first and last names in the same column. You probably need to put first names in one column and last names in the other.

I don’t really understand the process, but I pasted the formulas and followed instructions from this page: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;72573

It works!

Tech Tips: Downloading Web Videos such as those found on Youtube

Downloading videos found on sites such as YouTube is easy.

1. Find the URL (web address) of the video you want to download
2. Go to keepvid.com and enter the URL of the video you want to download.
3. I recommend to choose the “save as mpg file” option. FLV files don’t seem too user-friendly.

Keepvid.com is just one site that enables you to download web videos, a web search will turn up a high number of other options.

Please note: It’s probably a bad idea to download and broadcast content that is owned by someone else.

Tech Tips: Flipping an Excel Chart

Need to flip a spreadsheet in Excel and turn columns into rows or vice versa?

Here’s what you do:

Highlight the area you want to flip
Click copy or paste
Click on empty cell where you want the flipped items to go, make sure the cell is empty.
Click “Paste Special” and in the options check “Transpose”
That should do it!

For further reference check out: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-1029399.html