This is the first in a series of three post about creating videos, primary web videos, especially kitesurfing and action sports. Whether you are creating a video for you and your mates or something you want the world to see, trying to up your production values will make the movie more enjoyable for everyone.

So this series of post is split into 3 parts:

  1. Filming – getting the best shots possible whatever camera you have
  2. Editing – a few simply choices will take your masterpiece from bearable to repeat viewer
  3. Encoding and Distribution – some many people fall at the final hurdle, getting your video exported in the best quality possible is not something to rush though.

So lets start with Filming:

Get Close / Zoom in
filming-fi-qtNoone wants to watch some dot in the distance so you need to get close to your subject or get used to zooming right in and following the action. Getting close is easier, as keeping the rider centered in the frame is far easier when you not zoomed in. And when I say close, I mean close, you want the rider to fill the frame – get in a postion where they can’t splash you but they can come real close, this will give the viewer the feeling of being part of the action.

Use a tripod
Tripod 503hdv-525pkit-lgUnless you are in the water a few feet away from the rider, USE A TRIPOD. There is no excuse. Shakey shots are horrible to watch and kill a video. Now a good tripod is not cheap but honestly something is better than nothing. On my travels I’m using an el cheapo ¬£30 Jessops tripod and its crap but be gentle with it and it will do the job. If you are serious about your filming get a fluid head and you will be blown away with the difference it will make. For our DVDs and general production work we use a Manfrotto 525/503 – very nice.
Whatever your tripod, smooth movements are essential, try and resist the temptation to quickly pan if you lose track of the rider as he launches into an unexpected trick – slowly speed up your pan so they come back into shot and everything will look natural.

Sun, Sun, Sun
Personally I rarely film if its not sunny. For kiting the water just looks dirty and the rider looks flat. Obviously you can’t always be that picky but think about it and try and pick a sunny part of the day if possible.
Also try and get the sun behind you. With the sun low behind you the rider will jump out of the shot and the viewer will forgive your jerky tripod pans and distance rider ;-) Once the sun is over head or in front  of you the rider loses all definition.

Different Angles
No one wants to watch the same tricks all from the same angle, so get off your arse and move around. Trying shooting from a couple of different locations on the beach, get out into the water and get some close ups, is there a tower, cliff etc you can get up to get an elevated shot? Take a step ladder in shallow water for close up shots with high persectives – another great way to film when the sun is high overhead.

Camera settings:
Well this will differ for everyone but personally I stick to some basics for most of my shooting with my handycam (with better pro cameras you have more options available on the camera body)
Use Auto Focus unless you are filming a wide shot with kites in it, then you need to set the focus manually or it will jump around all over the place.
If the light is good I set the shutter speed manually to 1000 and then let the camera handle the aperture. This just seems to work great for fast action shots as it gives a crisp image and the camera handles the lighting balance.
Framing a fast moving kitesurf, particularly if they are jumping, is not a easy task, and for me its vitally important over small enhancements to the look of a shot, so let the camera as much of the work as it can and that just leaves you to zoom, pan and tilt.

So thats my top tips for filming, of couse there are plenty of others – anyone like to share there ideas? Post away in the comment below:

Next up will cover a few simple techniques to get the best out of the footage once your ready to edit. Subscribe to our blog feed and get updates whenever we post new items.