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Shooting action sports Top 10 tips for better sports filming

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Shooting sports videos

Sports videography is an exciting genre of videography to get into. Capturing the intensity of the action and the highs and lows, and the victories and defeats of sports on film is exhilarating. But sports videographers require a high level of skill. If you’re wondering how to improve your sports videography, then in this blog post we are looking at shooting actions sports with our top 10 sports videography tips.

1. Know the sport

First and foremost, knowing the sport you’re about to film is one of the best ways to prep yourself for the shoot. Knowledge of the sport is always great as you will intuitively know what to focus on in your filming and what are the best shots to capture. A football videographer will be looking to film different than a cricket videographer, for example, or skiing.

Sports videography

 

2. Use a video camera instead of a DSLR

You might be confused at this advice, as DSLRs are optimal for sports photography for their excellent quality, but they are actually not usually suitable for filming sports. This is because DSLRs struggle to film continuously and are only able to film for 10-30 minutes continuously. Of course, this is not ideal when filming a sports game that will go on for much longer – you would have to frequently restart the camera to film the entirety of the game. 

A DSLR also has a rolling shutter which can cause digital artefacts to appear in your video, which is not great for filming fast-moving sports. For a better overall quality, using a camera designed for filming video is advisable. An action camera is a great option as it is designed specially to cope with high speeds whilst preserving quality.

3. Use a high shutter speed

The shutter is what exposes the film/matrix to light; using a slow shutter speed, the matrix is exposed to light for longer and this creates motion blur. This is visually interesting for certain projects but doesn’t lend itself well to sports videography. Motion blur would be very distracting in a high-speed sports video.  Using a fast shutter speed keeps the detail high and misses nothing. A high frame rate will also assist in capturing the action well, as more frames are being created. 60fps at 1/120th shutter is ideal.

4. Use a telephoto lens

When it comes to sports videography equipment, a telephoto lens is essential, for the simple reason that is impossible for you to get up as close to the action as you would like – a long lens allows you to film subjects from a distance. Investing in a long lens is money well spent, as it helps you to achieve the best shots and angles. A 70-200mm lens will work for most sports, but certain occasions may warrant a longer lens.

5. Use a deep depth of field

While artistic videographers have made the use of bokeh and shallow depth of field popular due to its aesthetically pleasing style and the use of DSLRs, it’s not ideal for sports. While it can look nice, shallow depth of field makes it difficult to focus on action – when filming sports opt for a deep depth of field for clear focus. By using the right lens, you can ensure your camera won’t go in and out of focus throughout your video and compromise its quality.

6. Film from a higher level

As a videographer, you want to capture the action from the best angle possible. Most people would assume the best vantage point is from side-lines, to get close and personal to the action. While this brings closeness to the players, it confuses the viewer’s depth of field and spatial awareness because you’re effectively compressing the field of vision. It’s difficult to comprehend the game when you can’t accurately perceive how close the players are to each other. 

By filming on higher ground you can create a wider field of vision that portrays the space more accurately. Finding a top-down view whilst remaining in proximity to the action will make it much easier for viewers to follow the video. 

7. Utilise wide shots

Following on from the previous point, creating the best possible perspective of the sport is so important. Using wide shots should be used in conjunction with filming from the right angle to create an enjoyable experience for the viewer. 

For photographers and videographers, it is second nature to crop the frame tightly to zone in on the important action, but this is detrimental to sports video. By zooming in on one aspect of the sport too closely, you are missing out on important reactions from the opposition and strategies on both sides forming before your very eyes. For this reason, it’s important to frame a good number of your shots widely. 

Video sports

 

8. Capture a variety of shots

While wide shots should be used to your advantage, variety is part of what makes sports videos exciting and dynamic. To intrigue and entertain your viewers, you should use a variety of shots. Wide shots should be used to establish the environment and to show the action unfolding. Close-ups should be used to cut away from the action, and to focus on anticipated action, star players, and the reactions of coaches and other players.

9. Keep it smooth

In terms of sports videography techniques, it is important to remember that when zooming in and out, zoom slowly. Moving in and out too quickly is jarring to the viewer. Likewise, when panning, make sure you do so smoothly and steadily.

10. Record audio

Some first-time sports videographers will assume that the image is the most important thing, and neglect the audio aspect of the video. When you don’t record audio, your viewers will miss out on a huge part of the viewing experience! Sound brings the video alive for viewers, so recording audio on your camera or using an external microphone is an extremely useful asset in sports filmmaking. 


Thanks for checking out our top 10 sports videography tips. Next, check out some inspiring sports photos.

The link above is a great example of the Splento App – fast becoming the new gold standard for storing and sharing photos – and videos – in full, original quality (zero lossy compression).

If you are in need of a sports videographer, then Splento has a professional local to you, available for a fixed hourly rate including all editing and finishing.