“By now, everyone and their mom has a YouTube account to share videos of their cat, their family trip to Disney Land, and yes…even skate videos. You may not have the funds to buy a RED Epic right off the bat, but there are plenty of affordable quality cameras & camera gear on the market. Ain’t no shame in buying used gear. I still do.” There are many ways to get pro results without having to take out a student loan or sell your kidney. Here are several things you can start with:
When starting off making skate videos, all you need a good camera with a few decent lenses. With GoPro cameras getting better and better every year, I suggest at the very least starting off with one before graduating to a DSLR style camera. You can do a whole lot with just one GoPro! Then if you feel like you’re ready for some different lens choices, I suggest the Canon t3i. The basic kit comes with an 18-55mm lens to get you started. It’s super lightweight, and produces great quality video when used right.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot on a RED Epic, a Canon DSLR, or even a GoPro. Take the shake out of your video by investing in a decent fluid-head tripod. Unlike traditional photo tripods, video tripods have built in “drag” or resistance when panning or tilting. This resistance is what gives camera movements a smooth, polished look. A simple system that will do the trick can range anywhere from $50 – $150. You’ll be happy you bought it…
A good lens can open up a whole new level of creativity for you. Once you’ve exhausted your kit lens, I suggest a wide angle or fisheye lens, and at least one low-light capable lens. A good work-horse fisheye is the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5. You can get one that mounts Canon DSLRs and creates that “street skate” video look. Another good wide-angle option is the Sigma 10-22mm f/4-5.6. I bought mine 4 years ago, and still use it today. Lastly, invest in a good “low light” lens like the canon 50mm f/1.8. It produces nice depth of field and is perfect for low light situations.
Adding movement to your shots brings a whole new dimension to a video. By adding a slight pan or tilt to those shots that would normally be stationary, a boring road suddenly comes to life. Slider dolly’s are another tool that can bring a whole new dynamic to your footage. By pushing in or pulling away from an object, you can begin to incorporate the environment (trees, buildings, street signs, etc) in every shot. Simple slider dollys are available on Amazon.com for about $100. Even the slightest camera movement, whether you pan, tilt, or slide, opens up endless cinematic possibilities for your project.
The edit is where the real magic happens. Getting multiple shots (or good coverage) of the same trick from different angles is an excellent way to bring your edits to the next level. Consider getting wide, medium, and close up shots of that next stand-up slide, and stringing it together as a sequence. Having coverage from multiple angles frees you up to experiment with editing a sequence in multiple ways.
Think about what song(s) you’re going to use before you start to edit your project. Instead of just throwing a random song over the footage you’ve pieced together, try editing to a song you’ve picked out ahead of time. Before I even start editing a video, I have my music picked out. This gives me time to think about how the imagery will play along with the song I’ve chosen, and usually produces much more creative edits. Editing in rhythm and dropping action on a beat can be powerful editing tools.
Videos that have a story are always more memorable. Try to work a short story element into your next skate video and see what it turns into. Whether it’s a goofy intro, lifestyle footage from a trip, or even a scripted scene, people remember a good story!
The best way to get better is by watching other videos, skaters, and artists (of any kind!) that inspire you. Look closely at what they do, how they do it, and then try to replicate it. Before I began filming longboarding, I vividly remember watching “Loaded Summer and the Orangutan Adventures” on the O-tang channel, and saying to myself, “THIS is what I want to do.” Next it was daily binges of videos by Adam Colton, Camp4 Collective, and Brain Farm digital cinema. As a videographer, photographer, or creative of any kind, we always need to be watching what’s out there, and pushing ourselves to the next level.
The only way to learn is to try new things. Instead of limiting yourself to just longboarding videos and photos, try shooting a completely different sport or activity. You’ll find yourself applying these new styles or camera movements the next time you’re filming a skate video.
Too many video shoots are rushed and expected to be completed overnight. If you want your video to stand apart from the next schmuck with a DSLR, then prepare, take your time, and get creative. Talk to the rider you’re shooting with, bounce ideas back and forth, or even have another photographer there to work with you. Take as much time as you need, because it’s quality over quantity, and whoever you’re filming will appreciate it once they see the edit.