You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice that everybody is filming their hunts these days. With the really nice HD videos cameras selling for under $200, it’s no surprise. Having a second person in a tree stand or a turkey blind is a much different way of hunting, and judging by how many hunting clips are now online it’s something a lot of guys are doing.
I’ve been working in the Hunter’s Specialties Video Production Department pretty much ever since there was a Video Production Department. I’ve seen a lot of video over the years—some really good and some, sadly, that could have really used some common-sense direction.
Perhaps the biggest issue I see with would-be videographers revolves around the zoom function of the camera. When used correctly a nice slow push to an animal, or a pull back to reveal just how close the hunter is to something, can make for great video. But when done fast and clumsy, it ruins a good shot.
I like to tell people to use the 5-10-5 method. Spend 5 seconds zooming into a subject, hold for ten seconds, five seconds zooming out.
The only thing that is perhaps more annoying than excessive zoom is an excessive move. We’ve all seen the videos where the person behind the camera tries to get everything and ends up getting nothing. Any movement with the camera should be slow and deliberate. If you’re filming a hunter talking about the great character of the rack on the buck he just dropped, keep the camera on the antlers. You don’t have to go up and down to antlers to face to antlers to face again.
Likewise, if you’re walking along behind somebody just focus on keeping the camera pointed straight ahead and keep the movements as limited as possible. Another note on filming while walking: The wider the Field of View, the less shaky it will be. Trying to zoom in while moving at the same time will make bad video 100% of the time.
When that moment of truth comes, that big bull elk or whitetail is finally on his way into a shoot lane, take the time to let the animal fill only half the screen. If he’s walking left to right, keep him on the left half, if he’s walking right to left. keep him the right half. He should always be walking into the empty half of the frame.
Now is also when you want to be ready to hit the zoom. As soon as the impact is made, you want to go wide. No 5-10-5 rule here, go wide and keep it wide. It’s the best way to keep the animal in view.
Lastly, capture all that stuff that makes those days outside so memorable. The woodpecker perched above your head, the squirrel going on about his business unaware you’re there, the coon or possums walking underneath your tree—it’s all part of the hunt so film it!
And by all means, save those bloopers—you’ll never know when you’ll have to use them!