Get the Shot

Rule No. 1: Get the shot.

If you and the camcorder aren’t ready when something great happens—whether you’re trying to create a Hollywood-style movie with scripted actors or just trying to catch the dog’s standoff with a squirrel—then everything else in this book, and in your new hobby, are for naught.

Both human and mechanical obstacles may conspire to prevent you from capturing the perfect footage. Here are some examples:

Is the Camera Ready?

Your camcorder is only ready when its battery is charged and it’s got fresh tape inside. MiniDV cassettes these days cost about $4 apiece (from, for example, http://www.bhphoto.comor warehouse discount clubs like Costco), so you have no excuse not to have a stack of blanks, at least a couple of which should live in your camcorder carrying case for emergency purposes. If you bite the bullet and buy a box of ten or fifty, you’ll save even more money, you won’t have to buy any more for quite a while, and you’ll be able to keep a couple of spares with the camera.

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