Posted 09 January 2012,
The Athletic Videos
One of the more exciting, and challenging, initiatives this year has been the short videos of the varsity athletic teams. Shooting video of teams and sports that are very familiar to me as a still photographer has provided a new set of challenges to my athletics schedule.
This all came about primarily because I upgraded my still-image camera to one that is also capable of capturing video (it’s the Canon 1D Mark IV). I figured that as long as I was at the games and meets to capture still images that I may as well use the video capabilities of the camera to capture video clips as well. The other videos that I have made for the online magazine have been very well received by the Trinity community and I thought that videos of varsity athletics might be equally popular.
As I considered how I would need to change my shooting style to accommodate video, a photojournalist whose blog I enjoy reading (Dan Chung at http://www.dslrnewsshooter.com
) profiled a camera called the GoPro. This is a small video camera that is capable of capturing high definition video and is easily mounted to people’s heads, chests, and wrists. After reviewing some of Dan’s footage I knew that this camera would provide compelling footage to cut into the footage that I would be capturing with my camera.
The first team that I covered in the autumn was Girls Varsity Tennis. I asked the coach, Alex MacDonald, to pick a student to wear the GoPro during the warm up. We mounted the camera using the head strap, I turned it on and off she went. After the team warmed up and was assigned to their courts, I started my coverage…dividing my time between video and still images.
Months later I’m still finding it to be a challenge to split my time between still and video while I’m with the teams. Some of this may be the habits that have been instilled after years of shooting still images. When I hold a single lens reflex camera in my hands my brain thinks “still” images. When thinking about still images I look for “the decisive moment” and have trained myself to anticipate when that is likely to happen. Video, of course, is not so much about a decisive moment as it is about capturing footage that can be edited into a dramatic series of sequences. With video I have to think about how the footage that I’m capturing could fit with other footage that I have captured or might capture. If I shoot close-ups of the athlete’s faces, or of their feet running, or of the ball hitting the strings on their rackets, I have to think about that footage within the context of the other sequences that I have shot and try to imagine how that can be put together to create a dramatic story about the game or match.
Regardless of how challenging I’m finding it to alternate shooting still and video during a game or match, the results have been very satisfying. When I returned to my office from the tennis match I downloaded the video files onto my computer and sat in amazement as I watched what had been captured. The GoPro footage was so unique that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. One of my favorite scenes is in the final video…when you see the vast tennis court from the student’s point of view and suddenly the tennis racket and her hand with the ball appear on screen and she hits the ball which disappears into the distance. Being able to see what the athlete sees is one of my favorite elements of these videos.
If you haven’t already, take a look at Tiger Sports Report
and click on the image of the “movie camera” for whatever sport interests you and let me know what you think. (I’m only just beginning to cover the winter teams, so you will have to look at the autumn for a more complete set of choices). Even if you aren’t someone who enjoys watching sports on television, I’m hoping that you will find it interesting and exciting to watch Trinity’s athletes working hard on the courts and fields.