How to make great sports video: Camcorder & Accessories Basics
With Video becoming such a key factor in developing players from any sport I’d like to share some advice which you will hopefully find helpful – from the basics of purchasing good equipment to filming & editing.
I’ve been filming for around 7 years now, mostly doing Rugby and have been fortunate enough to work for many teams and travel to some great places putting together promotional videos as well as editing together clips for analysis by coaches.
I really started to get into filming & editing by just playing about with clips using Windows Movie Maker, even using simple free software is a great way to learn the basics and some of the terminology of editing.
As I started to get more serious about it I upgraded to a MacBook Pro, for me Apple is the direction to head in when working with video and it has been a great, reliable, platform for me to work on.
Getting started with filming doesn’t have to cost a fortune, even if your budget isn’t massive you can still pick up a decent camera. I’ve used a Canon Legria Camcorder for a few years now and find it great for what I do with it – it’s small enough to carry around and easily fits in my bag and has a good zoom range to cover the pitch when filming – 10x Optical with an extended digital zoom on top. It has audio connections for a microphone input and also two additional SD card slots to double its capacity.
There are lots of full HD Camcorders out there ranging in price from £250 – £700 upwards. For most, a camera in the £250 range will be fine. When working out a budget though it is also important to factor in a few other items that will be essential and will produce good looking video.
Firstly a good tripod is important, it will provide a stable platform and make things a lot easier to review compared to shaky footage taken by just holding the camera with your hand. I’ve used a Manfrotto Tripod for several years and have found them to be sturdy and reliable and provide good smooth panning.
It is tempting to just pick up a cheap £15-£20 tripod, but as with most things you get what you pay for and you will usually find they are cheaply made and won’t last very long. The first Tripod I used came free with my camcorder and was quite flimsy and the head started to come loose after very little usage making for a shaky shot.
I purchased a Manfrotto Tripod for around £150, which may seem expensive but it is very sturdy and has lasted me for several years. It is worth looking around though and checking reviews online to find one that will suit you and your budget.
Another important extra to consider is an extra battery as most cameras will only come with a small capacity pack that will most likely not last for long when filming rugby or other sports. If you search online for batteries that fit your camcorder you will likely find various capacities that will enable you to shoot for longer.
I personally find shooting with a digital Camcorder easier and quicker compared to a mini DV camcorder. Firstly you don’t need to purchase mini DV tapes and you can easily and quickly upload to your computer using a USB or firewire cable. You can also capture straight onto your laptop if you have the ability to do so during a game. Many cameras also come with SD card slots to add to their inbuilt storage and can be bought for around £15-£20 for 16-32GB cards.
Some other bits of kit that I carry in my bag that you may find useful;
- UV Filter
- Good for sunny days especially during the 7s Season to reduce the impact of the sun.
- Rain Cover
- You can buy covers for certain cameras to protect them from the rain, if you can’t find a specific cover, or you want to save on money just do what I do and use a plastic freezer bag – works just as good!
- LCD Screen Cover
- I have found this to be very helpful in all conditions when filming. Firstly the screen can be difficult to see in sunny conditions so it acts well as a shade to make viewing easier. In contrast it also acts well in wet conditions to protect the screen from rain drops.
So that’s a basic overview to the type of equipment I carry in my bag whenever I go out to film a rugby game. Whether you’re looking to buy a new camcorder or tripod I’d recommend looking around on the Internet to compare prices as well as looking at people’s reviews to get an idea on the product and how well it works and how it fits into your budget.
Written By Jonathan Fowke of JPF Sports Media