A Trip to RememberBy rick jelak - March 1, 2003
Before heading for the lake or the woods, take some time to refamilarize yourself with both your camcorder and owners manual. Take advantage of the features and effects found within your camera and practice in your yard. A few of the features you will for sure want to use are the fade and image stabilization. Fading into a scene and again fading out, then putting your camera on pause is much more pleasing to the eye and less abrupt then merely shooting scene after scene. Image stabilization is exactly that, it is an internal circuitry device within the camera that smoothes out your footage. Use it while your boat is moving through choppy water or while following your partner through the woods. Most consumer style camcorders are equipped with auto focus and a zoom lens. Spend some time practicing with manual focus. Shooting in manual will prevent the lens from "hunting" for the image you wish to record. Avoid the urge to zoom in and out. Find your subject in your viewfinder while the camera is on pause. Hit the fade in or record button and follow the action with smooth pans and tilts.
For a slick professional looking video, start with a number of short scenes mixed with still images that will blend into the main body or theme of your video. A typical video introduction might be a short scene of your partner backing the boat towards the water. Then a long side to side or pan of the lake you are about to fish. You now have a clear beginning and your viewers will know exactly what is taking place.
You can also narrate as you are shooting. For example, "Today is day one of our three-day adventure on Clear Lake. It is 60 degrees and calm as we head out for a day of jigging and drifting in search of weed edge walleyes." By giving some thought to the beginning of your video, it will flow smoothly and logically much like a magazine article.
After the completion of your intro feel free to shoot as much or as little video as you want. Remind your partner prior to shooting that he needs to be aware of the importance of his role and to supply plenty of commentary and energy to give your video a professional feel. Just remember to turn the camcorder over to your fishing partner so you too can share the spotlight. When there is a lull in the action, take a few minutes to film your own "tip of the week." A short segment explaining a tactic or technique you are using with close-ups and audio. Such as how to rig a tube jig or how to tie a slip bobber will supply a nice break and give you a feel of control and creativity.
While reliving the trip is your goal, a few basic techniques will make your video easy to watch for you and your audience. Most basics of still photography also apply to videography. Keep the sun at your back whenever possible. Not only will you have clear distinct images, it will also make seeing what you are recording easier.
In addition to your camcorder and tape, consider the following items to add to your video production arsenal. An extra battery or two charged according to the manufacturers instructions, and a copy of your instruction manual in a Ziploc bag. The most important item to have is a storage case that is both shock proof and waterproof. The system I use combines both in an affordable and complete system. I start with a two-gallon size Ziploc bag to contain the camera. The bagged camera nests in a pistol style gun case that is lined with high-density foam cut out to snugly hold the camera. The case protects it from bumps, vibration and most importantly moisture.
Your camcorder can be a fun and useful addition to all of your outdoor endeavors, not just fishing. Mine has recently been to the Boundary Waters on a canoe trip, a duck blind in South Dakota, and in my tree stand on numerous deer hunts. Making your camcorder a must have item will insure you always have a trip to remember.