Ghost HuntersHow-ToUsing the Mini-Digital Video Camera

Using the Mini-Digital Video Camera
By Steve Gonsalves

Introduction

If you’re a serious paranormal investigator, the mini-digital video camera is an indispensable part of your arsenal.  Not only will it provide a visual and audio record of your investigation, it will give you unrestricted access to locations and allow you to see your own reactions to paranormal activity, when it occurs, in real time.

Step 1
Determine how you’re going to use your mini-dv camera

If you’ve done your homework you should know where all the reported “hot spots” of paranormal activity are before you begin shooting. This information, and the number of cameras you have at your disposal, will help dictate how you are going to proceed with your investigation.

For instance, if you only have one mini-dv camera, you may want to go handheld so you can cover as much ground as possible. Or if there have been reports of major paranormal activity in a specific location, you might want to set up the mini-dv camera on a tripod, capture as much footage as you can, then move on to another location. Or you may want to do a combination of handheld and stationary shooting so you can get the most out of your investigation.

Obviously, the more cameras, the more freedom to set up the investigation the way you want, but you can achieve a lot with a single camera, so don’t be deterred from investigating if you don’t have unlimited resources.

Step 2
Set up a command center


You might not have a state-of-the-art command center with a DVR system, but whatever your budget, you’ll want to have a location where you can set up your battery chargers, throw your coats, drop your bags, and store your equipment.  It’s especially important when filming to have a place to which you can fall back to review evidence and keep track of your equipment.  If you’re shooting in darkness—a practice we regularly use in all our investigations—you have a greater chance of leaving some equipment behind.

Step 3
Using the IR Illuminator

The super night vision on mini-dv cameras is typically poor, so make sure you use a good infrared illuminator when filming in a dark environment. Your mini-dv camera should have a hot plate on which you can easily mount your IR illuminator.  Just snap it on, and you’re ready to shoot in pitch black. The IR illuminator not only illuminates your surroundings, it can capture objects moving when it’s otherwise dark, and can even illuminate energy sources.

Step 4
Setting up a stationary mini-dv camera

When going dark, you’re going to want to make sure that you have sufficient illumination for each room, so turn on your IR illuminator on your camera or use an external IR illuminator to illuminate your surroundings.

Before you begin filming, make sure what you want to view is in frame. Record for a bit to adjust the light level if necessary. Once you’re satisfied with the light level and framing, hit record to start filming.

Step 5
Going handheld with the mini-dv camera


A handheld investigation occurs in real time, so avoid stylistic or cinematic techniques when filming.  Point the camera at what you’re looking at, not at the ground.  Use slow, sweeping motions, with the camera zoomed back completely.  Remember, you’re not shooting a movie, but conducting an investigation, so it’s crucial when watching your video, to have an accurate sense of the surroundings at all times.

A handheld investigation occurs in real time, so avoid stylistic or cinematic techniques when filming.  Point the camera at what you’re looking at, not at the ground.  Use slow, sweeping motions, with the camera zoomed back completely.  Remember, you’re not shooting a movie, but conducting an investigation, so it’s crucial when watching your video, to have an accurate sense of the surroundings at all times.

If you do see or hear something, allow yourself to react naturally.  Just as important as what you are seeing is how you are reacting to it.  Your testimony and findings are better supported when there is footage backing them up.

To this end, you may sometimes want to go stationary during a handheld investigation or be present in the shot when you’re using your mini-dv camera in stationary mode.  Just make sure the illumination and framing is where you want it and go about your investigation.

Step 6
Reviewing your video

When viewing footage, you want to do it in real time.  No fast forwarding or scanning through footage (except in specific instances).  Watch every second of your video, making sure to pause the video when you’re not watching.

The only time you should use the scanning mode on playback is when you are trying to track normally imperceptible movement. For instance, if you see that an object or something has moved from one area to another, using the scan mode will allow you to compress minutes of movement into mere seconds, allowing you to track movement you’d normally never see. Your scanning function shouldn’t be so fast it distorts or puts bars over the picture, because you want a clear picture.

You may also want to slow down playback at times to get a better look at any suspicious activity that has been recorded. A strange looking shadow or form passing in front of the camera or in the background could turn out to be nothing, or it could turn out to be a human-shaped, seemingly corporeal form that requires further investigation.

You should be aware that the IR Illuminator makes objects highly reflective.  Dust particles may take on a luminescent quality and insects can end up looking like golf ball-sized energy spheres, so you’ll need to use your deductive powers to distinguish everyday from paranormal phenomena.

If you see an energy orb moving through the air, pay close attention to its flight pattern.  If it’s moving erratically, chances are it’s an insect.  If it’s floating through the air, seemingly powered by its own internal drive and unaffected by the elements it may be something worth investigating.  Energy orbs—which can signify paranormal energy—are solid and tend to glow, emitting light from their center.

Today’s mini-dv cameras are light, versatile, and have excellent picture quality that will allow you to capture compelling evidence when it occurs.  In my experience, there’s nothing more satisfying than to be able to point to evidence you’ve recorded on video and say, “There it is!”

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