Love action sports? Want to shoot a professional-looking action sports video on your phone but don't know where to start, what to do, or how to make it look even half-decent? If these questions apply to you, you might want to check out what we've written here.
Together with the folks over at LifeProof, we're passionate about filming action sports on our phones. And while you might think you can't make a slick video without purchasing thousands of pounds worth of equipment beforehand, nothing could be actually further from the truth. Come with us now, young Jedi. You have much to learn.
1) Get Close To The Action (Don't Zoom)
Digital zoom looks rubbish. It looks so rubbish, in fact, that just thinking about digital zooming brings our skin out in eczema. Whatever you do, don't use the digital zoom on your phone. It's just a software trick that will make your subject appear closer, and far more pixelated. Pixelated footage, of course, is a bad thing.
To overcome this problem, you'll need to get close to the action. Fortune, as we all know, favours the brave...so be brave. Jump into the mix, and put yourself on the frontline. Your phone-shot action sports video will look so much better as a result.
2) Shoot From Different Angles
Nobody wants to watch a two-minute action sports edit that's been shot entirely from the same angle. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Wake me up when I'm dead. That's more boring than, the unfortunately named, Billy Boring who sat next to you in GCSE Geography. Man, that kid was boring.
If you really want to dazzle an audience, and keep them interested, you'll need to shoot stuff from different angles. Go high. Go low. Go middle. Go high to low, then low to high. Even the most awesome bit of action sport skill can be undermined if the camera angles are staler than a box of cereal that's been left exposed to the open air. Variety is the spice of life.
3) Get A LifeProof Case For Your Phone
The action sports environment certainly isn't for the faint-hearted. Things can get brutal. People can fall over, people can fly into other people, and camera equipment can get knocked over/be dropped/let go of in all the mad commotion. Heck, it might rain...or you might get splashed by a big wave. The possibilities are endless.
To protect yourself from a broken "dog and bone" scenario, get yourself a phone case that won't take no crap off of nobody. Turn your mobile into an armoured soldier of action sports filming, with the help of a LifeProof case, and you'll spend more time worrying about getting decent footage and less time worrying about your phone breaking.
4) Keep The Camera Rolling
Keep your camera rolling as much as your phone battery will allow. Why? Because there's no worse feeling in action sports filming than when your subject does something awesome and/or highly entertaining, and you've missed it because you cut too early.
When it comes to the editing process, it's better to have too much cool footage than not enough. Shooting as much stuff as you can will not only result in a better action sports video, it also means you'll be more likely to capture those tiny little moments that can elevate the final product.
5) Experiment With Slow-Motion
Phones nowadays come with so many fancy camera features that we're personally tempted to rename them 'Feature McFeaturesons' and just be done with it. It would no doubt be confusing for other people initially, like when we walked into a room and said "Has anyone here seen my Feature McFeatureson?" for example. But, given time, I'm sure that everyone would get used to it.
The great thing about having all these fancy camera features on your phone means you can really play around with stuff, there and then, and capture footage with a visually-stunning twist. Shooting action sports in slow motion, for example, will give you and the audience a chance to see exactly what's happening in high-octane, high-speed, situations.
6) Don't Use The Flash
Using your camera's flash to film stuff at night is a tactic predominantly used by complete and utter suckers. You don't strike us as a sucker, so don't start acting like one by trying to illuminate your action sports subject with the pitiful light on the back of your phone.
While we're on the subject of lighting, be careful with backlighting. To the natural eye, backlighting can sometimes look fine but when you watch the footage back...your subject might just be a black shadow moving in front of a white glow. Be clever about how you light your action sports videos, and it will definitely pay-off in the long run.
7) Always Film Landscape
It's 2016, and some people are still filming action sports in portrait. Why are people still doing this? Why can they not see how stupid it is? It's sooooo stupid and, what's worse, it makes the footage look stupid as well.
Always film with the camera phone horizontal (landscape). It will make your action sports video look so much more professional, and stop us from kicking over all the office furniture in a crazy-mad fit of rage. Film landscape. Don't film portrait. Repeat! Film landscape. Don't film portrait.
8) Get A Tripod For Steady Shots
Even if your hands are so steady that your action sports mates have taken to calling you "Steady Hands Jimmy," we'd recommend that you purchase a tripod for your camera phone. A tripod will guarantee stability for your shots, and improve the view-back experience considerably.
Of course, propping a camera phone up on a rock or up against a can of fizzy pop might just do the job if you're desperate. But, if you're serious about filming action sports you need to get appropriate gear. A tripod, and the benefits it brings to the table, should definitely be on your shopping list.
9) Play Around With Framing
Alright, Wes Anderson. Let's do this thing. It's time to talk about framing. In the same way that you should toy around with angles, always think about how your subject is framed in the shot. Where does the subject start? Where's he/she going? Is the landing area in frame? These are all things you should think about while filming.
Nobody's expecting you to serve up an Oscar winner at the first time of asking but if you carefully consider framing during the filming stage, it's far more likely that your finished action sports video will be better than one which was shot without any consideration of the subject's place in the environment.
10) Dedicate Some Time To Editing
OK, so you've got all of your killer action sports footage. Now what? Do you upload it your computer, and do absolutely nothing with it? Well, it's an option. It's a crap option, but it's an option nevertheless.
A far more interesting option, especially for those of us who want to see your action sports video, is to take the time to go through your footage and knock a little edit together. Filter out the boring stuff. Keep the cool stuff. Piece it all together in a way that flows, and then stick a sicker-than-vomit song on the audio.
Voilà. You've made an awesome action sports video on your phone. Now upload it to the internet, and wait for the critical acclaim and accolades to come your way. Nice job, Spielberg.
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