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Tips for Keeping Zooming Under Control > Tips for Keeping Zooming Under Control - Pg. 43,, and are good starting points for your shopping quest. For good information about microphones in general, visit Replace the Microphone Limit Zooming and Panning In a way, camcorder manufacturers are asking for it. They put the zoom-in/zoom-out buttons right on top of the camcorder, where your fngers naturally rest. That tempting placement has led millions of camcorder owners to zoom in or out in almost every shot--and sometimes even several times within a shot. For the camcorder operator, zooming imparts a sense of control, power, and visual excitement. But for the viewer, zooming imparts a sense of nausea. In other words, most home-movie makers zoom too much. In professional flm and video, you almost never see zooming, unless it's to achieve a particular special effect. (Someday, rent a movie and note how many times the director zooms in or zooms out. Answer: almost never.) Tips for Keeping Zooming Under Control To separate yourself from the amateur-video pack, adopt these guidelines for using the zoom controls: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION Automatic Gain Control Where's the recording-volume knob on my camcorder? There isn't one. Modern consumer camcorders use some- thing called automatic gain control (AGC). They set the volume level automatically as you record. That may sound like a neat feature, but it drives professionals nutty. AGC, in essence, strives to record all sound at exactly the same level. When something is very loud, the AGC circuit quiets it down to middle volume; when something is very soft, the AGC circuit boosts it to middle volume. Over the years, automatic-gain circuitry has dramatically improved. The electronic boosting or quieting is smoother and less noticeable than it once was. Even some modern camcorders, however, sometimes exhibit the unpleasant side effects of AGC circuitry: Try flming something that's very quiet, and then suddenly clap right next to the microphone. On lesser camcorders, when you play the footage back, you'll hear how the sudden, loud sound made the AGC back off, cutting the volume way down in anticipation of further loud noises. It takes the camcorder several seconds to realize that the surrounding sound is still quiet (and to boost the volume level back up where it had been). Fortunately, that sudden-adjustment syndrome is a rare and usually harmless occurrence. For most purposes, camcord- ers do an excellent job of setting their own volume level (although it certainly evens out the dynamic highs and lows of, say, a symphony performance). Besides, you don't have much of an alternative. Only a few, more expensive camcorders permit you to override the AGC circuit (and adjust the sound level manually). Even if you plug in an external microphone, most camcorders take it upon themselves to adjust the sound level automatically. chapter2:turninghomevideointoprovideo 43