How to shoot sports videos

f you ever wanted to combine your passion for sports and for making money, then this article is perfect for you. Shooting sports videos can be lucrative, and if you already own a camcorder, then you're halfway there.

There are two ways to make sport videos-as a viewer or as a participant. You are probably experienced with both. Many athletes, especially those who get tagged as "extreme," often wear customized helmets and other camera gear that essentially put you into the driver's seat. Camcorders can be mounted in almost anything sunglasses, vests, helmets and even customized camera harnesses and tripods mounted on someone's shoulder. Companies like Action Sports Cams offer a variety of helmet-cams, goggle-cams, and sunglass-cams to make it easy to capture your action as you zoom over moguls on a ski slope or race around a dirt track on your motorcycle. You don't have to worry about carrying or dropping your camcorder, because you are wearing it.

The Action Sports Cams solution consists of a tiny color camera that clips to your sunglasses or helmet and then connects via analog video and audio cables to a camcorder that you wear around your waist in a fanny pack. For added control, the company also sells a special $99 remote control unit that plugs into your camcorder's LANC ports and enables you to easily start and stop the recording.

As a spectator shooting a sports video, you can be actively involved-like a scuba diver videotaping the underwater adventures of his dive buddies or a skydiver documenting the freefall acrobatics of fellow parachutists. Or, you can be more of a passive spectator, sitting courtside with camcorder and taping the game or event as it progresses. Of course, it can be a bit of both.

In this article, we are going to concentrate on how to shoot from a lazy person's perspective. You'll learn how to make a sports video without raising a sweat, spending a lot of money, or putting your life in danger.


One of the most important aspects of shooting a sporting event is knowing the sport. Roberto Bonilla of Direct Shot Video Productions says, "It helps if you understand the sport. You can anticipate what is going to happen next, which will give you smoother camera movements. I played soccer all my life and I coach, so videotaping soccer comes pretty easy."

Adds Katie Elfsten of Dreamline Images, "The key to shooting sports is anticipation. If you can anticipate the moves of the players and where the ball is heading, you will be ahead of the game. Once you understand the sport you are filming, you can now get creative."

Knowing the sport lets you plan where you should set up your tripod to get the best shot. Knowing the sport lets you anticipate which direction the ball and the action might be going so that you can lead your camera in the right direction. Finally, knowing the sport can also help you determine what exactly you can do with your video.

Are you shooting to capture a few exciting plays that can be played back on local TV or cable news? Are you trying to get highlights of a specific player and his/her actions so that the player's proud parents can watch it over and over again with the relatives? Maybe you are doing a team video-in which you are trying to catch highlights of all the players. Or, possibly, you have been hired by the coach to get an overall wide shot of the game-to shoot video of the big picture so that he or she can plan strategy for upcoming games, as well as analyze his/her team's performance on tape.


Let's analyze a few games and figure out some of the best places to shoot from, starting with baseball or softball. One of my favorite angles is behind the right-field foul line, so that I can get a good shot of the hitter as he/she swings and then dashes to first base. This is really good for right-handed hitters. If you are concentrating on the performance of a lefty, you might want to be behind third base, outside the left-field foul line. Either of these locations will enable you to get coverage of the infield as well as outfield.

By the way, if you are shooting a hardball game, it makes sense to keep your eye on the ball, so that you don't get hit on the noggin by an errant foul ball.


For soccer, get as close to the goal as possible. If you can't get behind the end line, at least get close to the end of the field along one sideline. The point is to get shots of the players and ball coming at you. I usually kneel or sit down in the grass, with the camcorder low on the tripod, shooting up at the players as they rush down the field toward me.

Standing at the midfield line, panning back and forth is boring. Plus, I guarantee, when you play the tape back, you'll make your audience seasick. This same recommendation goes for sports like basketball and hockey. Get an angle where you can get the action coming toward you.

For football, either get behind the goal posts and shoot the action coming toward you or follow the team up and down the field, re-setting the camcorder and tripod at the line of scrimmage for every play.


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