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How To Shoot Video Of Your Kids Sports Team So That Anyone Else Will Watch It!
by: Kevin Rockwell
1. You bought a video camera
2. You want to shoot sports of your kid
3. Here is how to do it
What a wonderful age of technology we live in. You can buy the greatest gadgets now days to record video and music and play them in all sorts of ways on other great technology gadgets from computers, DVD's, MP3 players, VCR's, and many more. It is all great stuff. But they all come with thick owners manuals that do not always get you going the right direction. You may eventually learn to use your great new camera for instance, but that does not mean you will necessarily take pictures that are worth looking at down the road. Rolling tape in your camera is one thing and creating video that is high quality and interesting is another thing. The goal of this product is to bring you up to speed with using your video camera (whatever format, and whatever brand) to get the best results for recording those precious moments of your kid's athletic achievements.
We as parents spend plenty of hours out on the field, court, pool, or track watching our kids take part in and compete in youth sports. If you have a video camera you are going to want to record some of these events for posterity and perhaps education. Following the simple steps in this guide will help you to capture them in the best possible fashion so that it is watch able but also usable down the road.
My video expertise stems from two decades as a network television cameraman and as a parent with several kids actively involved in youth sports. In my years of shooting video professionally I have been around the world and seen just about every type of news event. I also spent 15 years covering pro sports events for my employer. These were the best type of assignments as far as I was concerned. In my entire career the things I have enjoyed most is being able to go to places where the average person cannot. In sports that usually means being on the field, next to the court, in the press box, or in the pit. I have shot football games of all levels up to and including NFC and AFC championship games. Living in the Bay Area has allowed me to cover many baseball pennant races and several World Series. I was right behind home plate the night the earth shook in the 1989 World Series. Talk about a shock. I had to give up covering a World Series between the two Bay Area teams to go and cover a huge news event. Baseball seemed small for a while after the magnitude of the earthquake. The point in this is that I love sports, have been around sports my whole life and I know how to shoot video of sports. With that in mind I will do my best to give you advice on how to do the same.
Now whether you have the latest DV camera in your hands or an old VHS format camera there are basic things you will need to keep in mind if you are going to shoot sports. As we say in the video business your camera is only as good as the glass that you hang in front of it. The better the lens the better the results will be no matter what kind of recording format you use. Now you already have a camera in hand and may never have heard this particular bit of advice so it is too late to factor it into the equation. However if you have camera in hand and it has any limitations on what it can do due to the lens being less than wonderful there are things you can do to mitigate the situation. We will discuss those things in more detail later on.
The key factors before setting out on your game day video assignment are to make sure you know the operating functions of the gear, have a tape supply in hand (soon to be DVDs with the revolution in gear design that is taking place right now), and batteries fully charged. I know these may seem like the simply obvious things but even the pros have to constantly remind themselves to check and double check these items.
A little aside here about preparation. Over the many years of covering news I learned lots of little tips from other photographers in the field and applied them to my work regimen. In the early days of video we always had to carry around a portable hair dryer because the record decks would seize up if the moisture levels got to high. So in the winter time if you came in from the cold outside into a nice warm building the air would condense inside the machine and cause moisture build up. The warning light would come on and bang we were dead in the water. One of us would have to run to the car and get the hair dryer, fire it up and chase the water away from the record heads of the deck. It caused some very funny moments in public places I can assure you. (This by the way can still be a problem even today with electronics/VCRs/lenses. Too much moisture can cause havoc. So just remember a portable hair dryer can save your day)
Another thing I learned from others is the value of backup. A few years ago I was out on assignment and we had a young eager college intern along with us in the field. This young man wanted to learn all about what we did in our job. He was very interested in how to take pictures, unlike most of our interns who only wanted to become reporters or anchors. He asked many questions and after seeing that he was really paying attention I decided to take him under my wing and really fill him up with information. One tidbit that I shared with him was to always have an emergency stash of tape in his car when out on assignment. He didn't quite understand the importance of this at first since I had already drilled him about always bringing tape stock with him when going out on assignment. I filled him with stories of times when something or other happened and I'll be darned if you didn't need another tape and there under the seat of the car was that emergency spare. So anyway he went off to graduate from college and get a job in a small market TV station. He would send us progress reports from time to time, which I really enjoyed. Then lo and behold one day he sends me a letter telling me how he got into a jam one day on a story and needed that emergency tape. He had dutifully tucked one under the back seat and it was there to save the day. I hope that what you learn in this book will in some way keep you from having a video failure down the road. What I learned in my career is that video production is 80% of it is dealing with the curves and problems that are thrown at you and 20% talent. If you can learn to trouble shoot then you will always be successful.
My first suggestion for shooting your kids sports activities is to go watch TV. Yes sit down put your feet up and watch some sports on TV. Really watch how they make it interesting at the top level. Then watch the news and see how they cover the games from a news perspective. Don't pay attention to the content; just watch how it develops visually. Now of course you can never duplicate what the networks are doing with just your one camera. However if you can glean anything from watching it should be how they try to bring intimacy with the athletes out in the broadcast. All the new improvements in covering sports have to do with getting you the viewer as close to the athlete as they can. Bring you into their world. From cameras on wires overhead that swoop along the field to cameras in the net of a hockey game to cameras inside the cars at Daytona, it brings you into the game. Now you cannot stand on the pitchers mound at your kids' baseball game but you can learn some techniques that can make your baseball video more intimate and therefore more compelling to watch.
A side note here, if your task is to capture the whole game or sporting activity for review as a coaching tool you should focus mainly on getting a good high view and putting the camera on a tripod. Pan slowly to follow action and don't zoom in and out. My main goal here is