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Pro Video Tips is designed for busy videographers like you. This series brings you a new tip every week, on everything from controlling reflections to hiding mics. Host Anthony Q. Artis covers shooting techniques for particular video challenges like portraits, tools to help you control light and judge exposure, and advice for the traveling videographer, such as putting together a great lens kit or packing a truck. Come back every Tuesday for a new round of tips.
There are all kinds of body mounts you can get for most action cameras, especially the GoPro. However, the most popular mount that can yield some dramatic point of view surfing shots, is still the good old board mount. Make sure that section of your board is scraped clear of any surf wax, and is perfectly clean and dry on the spot where you want to place the mount. For this shoot, Tony put the Go-Pro on the front of the board facing up, so he could show his full body movements and expression as he paddled out and rode each wave.
There's also a product called the third person view mount that an athlete can wear to get hands free over the shoulder and side shots as they ride. You can always get these same angles hand held of course, but this third person view device makes it much easier for the surfer to still do their thing hand held, and get steadier shots at the same time. If you have more than one camera to work with, try to capture the action from two angles at once to get more footage of each good ride. Also, regardless of which mount you use, be careful to check the camera angle before you shoot.
It's easy to inadvertently point the camera too high or too low and miss most of the action. Because of this issue, I highly recommend purchasing the LCD screen back accessory for the GoPro cameras, which otherwise have no easy way to preview a shot before you record. True, the newest models do have wi-fi, but chances are you won't be getting a signal at the beach, so an LCD screen is your best bet for a live visual monitor. Note that the standard GoPro housing in many smartphone cases, although water proof, do not actually float.
So make sure you have a good tether and a floating case or a floating device attachment in case you lose a camera in a dramatic wipeout. Bright colors will also help you easily locate your camera in the surf. While you're at it, it may not be a bad idea to put your contact info on the camera, so you'll have a better chance of getting it back if you do lose it and some beachcomber finds it later. If you want to use your smartphone to shoot water sports, I recommend that you also use a video app that allows you manual control over your focus. A big difference between the little action cameras, like the GoPro or Hero Cam and smartphones, is that the action cameras have wide, fixed focus lenses, so pretty much everything stays in focus all the time.
However, the built in video camera app on smartphones like the iPhone, use autofocus, which can be tricky and unpredictable as the camera bobs up and below the water surface or quickly changes shots to keep up with the action. So I recommend using a video camera app like FILMIC Pro, that allows you to manually set and lock in focus, as well as white balance and exposure. If you want to capture dynamic, fast-moving subject matter like surfing, you need to have greater control over your camera's image. Speaking of which, although they are no longer a necessity to get water shots, a waterproof housing for your professional video camera is still a worthwhile rental investment if you want to get dynamic footage in the water.
This option will allow you to get right up close and personal with perspectives beyond the limited wide angle of a little sports camera. Not to mention that you can get solid depth of field, zoom moves, slow mo and other more creative shots with the real deal camera outfitted for the water
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