Secrets of Spectator Shooting

Nice person that you are, you agree to document your neighbor's softball tournament. How can you make the usual boring home video into something more?

Try the following pointers.

· Behind the scenes action. Everyone sees the action on the field, right? But do viewers ever get a glimpse at the masterminds with the game plan? Probably not. Now it's up to you to show them. Before the big game starts, tape some of the pep talks and strategy sessions. It's interesting to see if the game goes "as planned." Consider positioning yourself during the event near home plate. Snippets of the coach's instructions to batters and runners add interest to an otherwise run-of-the-mill home video. If a confrontation develops between coaches and umpires, get it on tape. A couple of frowns may fly your way, but it's this kind of inventive videomaking that keeps spectator shooting watchable.

· Talk to the stars. There's usually one very annoying problem with most sport videos: no human involvement. You see the people out on the field. But you never really see them. In other words, in most cases the video is one long medium shot; individual athletes take up only a small portion of the screen. That's why these things get so boring.

· Try talking individually with the participants in between innings. Do mini interviews, inviting comment on anything the participant is willing to talk about; great plays, lousy calls and rowdy crowds are all topics worth exploring. Why not include fans as well? Talking to the fans gives you a chance to inject humor into the video as well. It's just a game, after all. The audience's lighthearted comments can help keep the video's low points at a minimum.

· Be there for the action. What luck--you got a shot of your buddy as he slid head first into home. Trouble is, you were shooting from way out past first base when the run scored. His great slide looked like little more than a puff of dust from your vantage point.

· Becoming familiar with any sporting event you cover allows you to anticipate potential hot play areas. When your friend conquers third base, you should immediately head towards home plate. The next hit most likely will involve his coming in for the run.

· Look for the angle. Try to shoot from the most exciting angle possible. In the above example, a low ground angle shot will produce some great results. Look to capture reaction shots from the participants as well. After a smack from the bat, instinct may tell you to follow the ball. Keeping the camera on the batter gives you more engaging footage. A player's expression of triumph is certainly more interesting to the viewer than an extreme wide shot of a white speck flying through the air.

· Effects help. If you can, toss in some video effects for fun. Usually you'd do this in post, but with spectator sport videos you might want to break that rule. Many new camcorders have special effects like strobe and fade right on board. Fading in and out between innings or quarters adds a professional touch to the presentation. If a character generator is available, add credits to finish the production. All players enjoy seeing their names "in lights."