I blog a lot about professional video production but I was recently asked by a client as to how to best capture his son’s basketball games on video. It’s really a great question and a topic I haven’t explored before. While video can be a little overwhelming for the amateur, the learning curve can be managed with a little preparation and a small investment in equipment. We will break this down into three parts to make it easy as possible:
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment, unless you want to and have the budget to do so. The important thing is to buy a camera that you are comfortable operating and shoots HD. From there, you need a decent tripod. This is the one area which most people skimp on but should be a priority. If you have several kids and expect to be shooting their games for many years, spend a little extra money and buy a tripod with a fluid head (which means your pans will be very smooth). There is nothing worse than that herky-jerky stop and go motion, which almost always happen when you use a cheap tripod. Also buy a back-up battery to ensure you have enough juice for the big game.
Whether football, baseball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse or hockey, you want to try to be a little back from the field of play and elevated, if possible. Position yourself in the center of the court or field as well. This is generally the best place to capture video of all the action. As mentioned above, use a tripod! This will clean up almost all the mistakes people make when shooting handheld and you won’t make your viewers sick from all the motion. If the video looks excessively blue or green you may need to change your while balance settings. Simply go into settings and find white balance and change the setting to match your scene (usually tungsten for indoors or daylight for outside). Make sure you charge your batteries after every shoot so you have juice for the next game.
There are now several options for places to store your files but what you don’t want to do is store all your videos on your computers hard drive. HD video files are big and will quickly eat up your hard drive. My advice is to buy a good external hard drive and save all your files to it. There are also many different cloud based storage options, although some can get pricey with annual or monthly subscriptions required.
For those of you with older kids with aspirations of playing sports in college, you will probably need a highlight tape to show coaches. My best advice is to take the time every week to manage your video clips by only saving those good highlights and deleting the rest of the game footage. Many parents make the mistake of saving every single play of every single game and are left with the daunting task of having to go though hours and hours of footage to make a highlight tape. Taking a little bit of time every week to manage the process will save you a ton of time and aggravation when it’s edit time.