Depending on the desired result, shooting any kind of video usually requires a different approach, and the same applies to sport videos. In fact, sports videography is an entirely different ball game from movie making as some of the basics are directly contrasting.
What makes it so different from video making? Are there any new rules to follow? These questions and more will be answered in this straightforward guide on ‘how to shoot sport videos”.
How to Shoot Sport Videos
Unlike making movies, shooting sports videos is a one-way traffic. If any part of the action is missed then it can’t be recaptured. And with the instantaneous actions that are generated as the game goes past, one might be missing a glorious moment. The singular take that sports videos are known for sets the tone for an individual’s approach towards shooting sports videos.
Not to worry, here are some criterias to keep in mind when engaging in sports videography.
- Familiarity With the Sport
There are quite a number of sports out there, and each has its own set of rules. The least an individual interested in shooting a sport video can do is pick up interest in the said sport. Having the knowledge of a sport gives the videographer an idea of where and when to expect action in the course of the game.
An easy way of getting familiar with a sport is by attending the training session a couple of times. This way, stand points and angles of coverage can be determined before the
Actual game. If attending a training session is impossible, the next course of action will be to watch the videos of the said sports on youtube.
- Choosing the Camera
Selecting a camera for sports videography majorly depends on the sports to be covered. If an individual is not careful, even with the best video camera for sports, one can still miss out on whole scenes. Here are some tips on choosing the right cameras.
1. Video Camera or DSLR
If used correctly both kinds of cameras can bring out the best of sports videography but there are advantages of using one over the other. For example, video cameras are designed to record for longer periods than DSLRs, while DSLRs are more compact for easy maneuvering.
Although using a video camera for shooting a sports video is encouraged, DSLRs, which are more common, can also give good results. While there are lots of talking points on the choice of camera, it still boils down to the sport in question.
2. Frame Rate, Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO
As a newbie to sports videography, it is easier to simply pick one of the best action cameras under $100 for recording because they are built for it. What makes them stand out for sports videography is their high frame rates and fast shutter speeds.
Because of the nature of sports recording, it is always better to shoot at high frame rates in order to be able to get a smooth slow motion during playbacks or video edits, say 60fps and above. Even though working with 4K cameras is the norm in recent times, an option of the best 4K camcorder under $500 will still give you an impressive frame rate just like the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget.
As regards shutter speed, High shutter speeds are better at capturing the action because slow shutter speed is very likely to create motion blur, although shutter speeds work hand-in-hand with aperture.
Fast shutter speeds and high frame rates are integral to shooting sports video.
Apertures are simply the opening that allows light into the sensor. Generally apertures between f/8 and f/11 are encouraged due to the lighting conditions on the sports ground, and in a bid to avoid motion blur and focus issues that large openings will cause.
However, videographers might need to adjust the aperture to suit the lighting conditions of the sports ground and speed of the sport. The same trick applies with the camera ISO(1). High ISO counts can create a lot of noise in the background of the frame.
3. Lens Type
The most common lens for sports videography is the telephoto lens with focal lengths ranging from 70mm to 500mm because they bring the subject closer. For the most part, high focal lengths won’t be used in sport video recording but that still depends on the videographer’s stand point.
Zoom lenses with focal lengths ranging from standard lens to telephoto abilities are the best for sports videography because they can produce images with different viewing angles (frame width). These lenses are good for bringing a single subject or multiple objects into focus.
Finally on the lens type, it is important to always use a lens with a deep depth of field. While this criteria is basic because most lenses have a significant aperture range that allows for deep depth of field, it is more about the videographer being conscious of shooting with a deep depth of field except on occasions where focus is brought on a subject or play.
Cameras for sports video recording are supposed to be better equipped for outdoor activities since most sports are played outdoors. The camera should have weather proof casings, and also be rugged enough to withstand sudden movements.
- Get Familiar With the Camera Settings
With all that’s being said, being a pro in sports videography takes a lot of practice, and sometimes sticking to one particular sport. While the basics are the same, adjusting the camera for actions depends on the sport. The best way to surmount the challenge of having to keep manipulating the camera dials is by being familiar with the rig. It makes things easier.
- Wide-angle Shots Over Close-ups
From an audience’s point of view, sports are better enjoyed when simultaneous actions from opposing sides can be viewed at once. This same mindset should be applied during sports videography. While the position of the camera can sometimes limit the shot, it is still better to go for the widest angle possible so as to engage the audience on happenings during play.
While wide angle shots(2) are the order of the day with sports videography, close-ups are very useful when an action is anticipated or for player reactions. For example, a player about to dribble an opponent. Also, close-ups are useful for tracking a subject during a game.
- Smooth Video Recording
With everything that’s being discussed, the ultimate goal is to make an enjoyable sports video. Making an enjoyable sports video is down to making the whole production as smooth as possible. Whether it’s during zooms, panning and tilting, manipulating depth of field and focus, or even tracking a play, smooth switching from one mode to another will make a better sports video. The use of a tripod head can make the job easier while gimbals are discouraged.
Although different sports are played at different speeds it is always advised to go for video cameras with high frame rates and good resolution combined with a standard to telephoto zoom lens. Or better yet, there are action cameras designed for this purpose.
Gimbals are not advised for sports videography because they generally react slower than the sport’s speed. Instead, you can use a tripod.
Shooting sports video is not as basic as filming but it is still pretty straightforward, even for a newbie. Furthermore, sports videography can be fun once the basic guidelines are adhered to, and really, the sky’s the limit from there?
What do you think of sports videography? Is there a sport you would love to shoot? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
- Nasim M. (2019 August). What is ISO? The complete guide for beginners. Retrieved from https://photographylife.com/what-is-iso-in-photography
- Masterclass Staff. (2021 August). What Is a Wide Shot in Film? How Directors Use Wide Shots in Filmmaking. Retrieved from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-a-wide-shot-in-film-how-directors-use-wide-shots-in-filmmaking#6-different-ways-to-shoot-a-wide-shot