We respect your privacy. All email addresses you provide will be used just for sending this story. If your kids play sports, your weekends are filled with chauffeuring little athletes, supplying healthy snacks, and of course, the Search for Missing Cleats. And that leaves only so much time for creative pursuits, like, say, capturing the drama of the season on video. Try as you might to record the excitement of Little League baseball or Pee Wee soccer, you invariably get home and find that your footage is boring or—worse—unwatchable.
Well, we talked to an actual ESPN producer to find out. His name is John Vassallo, and he has kids of his own. In addition to game coverage, he produces shorter pregame segments and online pieces that are actually better templates for a home video. Though having the right equipment is important more about that in a moment , Vassallo explains that the difference between amateur efforts and professional-quality storytelling lies in smart planning and a creative outlook.
You should, too. A little action mixed with some casual sideline footage a team huddle or a pitcher playing catch while warming up and a few interviews.
Is it a really important game? Vassallo suggests—counterintuitively—that you might want to skip the video entirely and focus all your attention on watching the drama unfold. The goal is to follow the play as it develops. Shooting sports is demanding, so it pays to invest in a camera that gives you capabilities even the best smartphones lack. An SLR from a company like Nikon gives you the option to rent from a specialty shop a superlong telephoto lens— mm or more—like the ones the pros use.
Though you lose the versatility of an SLR with interchangeable lenses, the 30x optical lens is much crisper than what you generally find on a smartphone, and the advanced autofocus lets you keep up with the fast-paced action. The camcorder form factor makes it much easier to hold the camera steady, too. If you enjoy shooting action sports—cycling, skiing, etc. What it lacks in features, it makes up for in ruggedness.
Pro Tip: How you support your camera is every bit as important as which model you choose. A single-leg monopod provides adequate support while allowing you to move quickly from place to place. Vassallo suggests sketching a quick shot list. During the next inning, move to the opposite sideline for a tighter shot that focuses on her face or details in her pitching motion.
After that, try shooting from behind home plate. Amateur videographers have a tendency to fall in love with the zoom feature. If you want to get closer to the action, use your feet instead.
Resist at all cost the temptation to keep zooming in and out during the action. Pro Tip: You know that big moment when your kid scores a goal or makes a game-saving play? Look for close-up shots on the bench. Her well-worn glove. The stuffed animal she keeps in her gear bag. Linger on each shot for at least 5 seconds—mouthing the numbers to make sure you get what you need. Making them longer? Pro Tip: If you have an action camcorder, take advantage of its versatility.
Mount it on the backstop or the back of a soccer goal. After the game, channel your inner Bob Ley. Pull people aside, point the camera, and ask a few questions. Remember that big play? You might not have it on film, but you can always ask someone to describe it for you and layer the audio over artsy B-roll footage of a baseball bat or a glove.
Just ask open-ended questions. Your goal is to get people talking and telling stories. A typical pregame segment that Vassallo produces might be only 2 minutes long. Carry that philosophy into postproduction, where you can use simple editing software like Apple iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements to create a tight final cut. I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. For me, there's no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that'll help others be smarter and better informed.
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When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. Learn more. What can you do to raise your game? Here are six pro tips from a big-league talent:. Buy the Right Gear Shooting sports is demanding, so it pays to invest in a camera that gives you capabilities even the best smartphones lack.
Allen St. John I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. More From Consumer Reports. Show comments commenting powered by Facebook. Make a Donation Newsletters Give a Gift.