Pointers to help video your fencer.
How to Videotape Your Kid's Sporting Event (the NFL Films Way)
From Esquire.com, BY PETER SCHRAGER
Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, has five tips that will transform your endless afternoons of wobbly zooming into mini-movies with gravitas. Deep voice not included.
If you've ever filmed your children playing sports, chances are very good you've never re-watched that forty-five minute tape of eight-year-olds kicking each other in the shins. But it's not your kid's lack of athletic talent that's at issue — it might be your skills as a videographer. As Little League season hits full swing, we sat down with Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, the man who combined John Facenda's "voice of God" narration, Sam Spence's orchestral soundtracks, and slow-motion photography to form the creation myth for America's new national pastime. Herein, his secrets to turn any YouTube dad into a budding auteur.
1. Keep the camera steady.
Tip: The first sign of an amateur filmmaker is a shaky shot. Don't zoom in-and-out. Stay steady, focused, quiet, and completely out of the shot.
"During Super Bowl IV, [Chiefs coach Hank Stram] was like Henny Youngman, delivering one-liners on the sidelines," says Sabol. "His famous quotes — 'They're flat as hell', 'Looks like a Chinese fire drill out there' — almost never made the light of day because I was laughing hysterically, my camera shook and killed the shot. We're very fortunate that our second cameraman didn't find Stram nearly as funny as I did. I almost ruined NFL history. The lesson I learned? Stay focused."
2. Shoot from your knees.
Tip: If you only film at eye level, you're destined to capture ambulances, fork-lifts, concession stands — there's nothing poetic about any of that. But if you shoot from the ground-up, the sky, the clouds, the crowd instill a heroic, dramatic feel.
"There are countless iconic shots that wouldn't have been the same had they not been shot from the knees," says Sabol. "John Riggins's famous touchdown run versus the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII — in that shot, you get Riggins's face, the gritting of his teeth, and the feel and taste of the line of scrimmage. Shot from field level, that moment just isn't the same."
3. Capture the sidelines.
Tip: Consider the action both on and off the playing field, because sometimes the most vibrant emotions get hidden under a helmet.
"The shot we got of Packers coach Mike McCarthy crumbling to his knees after [Arizona Cardinals linebacker] Karlos Dansby returned that interception for a touchdown in last year's playoffs comes to mind," says Sabol. "Sudden death overtime with the ball, and in an instant — the season was over. That shot, taken from behind McCarthy, with the field of play in front of him, said it all."
4. Always be shooting.
Tip: Film is expensive. Video isn't. Capture it all. The best theater is spontaneous theater. You'll miss those moments if you lose the heavy trigger finger.
"Prior to Super Bowl XXII, one of our cameramen followed John Elway from the locker room to the field," says Sabol. "On that walk, Elway dodges a sea of balloons, gets stuck behind a pair of horses, and is trapped behind a marching band. It takes him a few minutes to simply get to the field. We never would have gotten any of that footage had we not let the film run like water."
5. Get the little things, too.
Tip: One of the best ways to capture the human (child's) spirit is to capture the moments that tell a bigger story.
"One of my favorite pieces of footage is a shot we did of Dick Butkus's hands," says Sabol. "We filmed it on a cold day at Wrigley Field in 1967. It's just Butkus's hands, bandaged and bloodied, his ten knuckles covered in contusions. That one shot tells you everything you ever needed to know about Dick Butkus."