Visions of Eon
By Brian Riddle
Are you one of those hunters who has taken that new camera out on a hunt and shot plenty of footage but when you got home to view the footage it looked as though it was shot from a whitewater raft? This happens all too many times. Brian Riddle, owner/producer of VISIONS of EON said, "It's often thought that because we have a nice, new camera that the footage will be amazing, when in fact great footage is 99% operator. The person behind the camera determines the quality of the footage." Brian has compiled a list of tips and techniques to help you get the best footage on your next hunt.
Learn Your Camera
First and foremost, learn as much about your camera as possible. Read the manual until you understand what all of the buttons do. You do not want to be learning how to set the focus when that giant buck is right in front of you. Try practicing filming the family dog chasing a ball in the backyard before you head out on your next hunt to film live game.
Stabilize the Camera
Invest in a tripod or monopod. No one likes shaky footage. A set of "sticks" is relatively cheap and can save you from the whitewater raft effect. If you do not have access to a tripod or monopod, here is a technique to help with your handheld shots. Place the camera in the palm of one hand, giving it a firm foundation. Placing your other hand around the side and top of the camera will keep it stable. Bringing the camera close to your chest with your arms against your ribs really stabilizes it. Move your body to pan and tilt. With a little practice this method can produce really clean shots. Also, because live game is usually at a distance, remember that the more you zoom in the lesser the quality and small movements become very large movements, so it's crucial to keep the camera stable. Focus, Exposure, and White Balance By understanding the basics of focus, exposure, and white balance you can take your footage from amateur to great. If your camera has these features, learn how to operate them. Your manual will have the information you need. Most cameras have a fully automatic function, which, in most cases, produces good results, but if you want great footage, learning how to use these features manually will make a world of difference.
Audio is probably the most important thing to consider when shooting video. One can get away with lousy footage and great audio, but not the other way around. Great footage will not make up for bad audio, so the best thing to do is invest in a pair of small in-ear headphones and keep an eye on the audio meters. Without headphones you cannot tell what audio the camera is recording. One might not notice a small breeze, but if it blows into the microphone it will dominate everything else, even if a talking subject is close to the camera. By monitoring you can reposition the subject so that the wind is not entering the mic. Most consumer cameras do not have manual audio controls, they run strictly on auto, so keep this in mind when you are filming someone talking. The camera needs to be close enough to the subject that the microphone will pick up the cleanest audio, about 6-8'. If headphones are not an option for you, be sure to monitor the audio by watching the audio meters, if your camera has them. Make sure that the meters never reach the red. If the meters have numbers on the side, a good rule of thumb is to keep them peaking around -18 to -12 db. Using these techniques can produce clean audio.
A Few More Tips
- If your camera has a gain setting, make sure it is set to zero. Remember, gain = grain = lousy footage.
- Make sure your lens is clean, and check it often. Dirty lens shots look unprofessional. Use only microfiber cleaning cloths.
- Carry extra batteries and memory cards with you at all times.
- Commit to your shot for 10 seconds without moving. Always remember to hit Record!
If you have any questions, you can email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck on your next filming adventure!