Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing or ice-climbing, winter sports can look fantastic on film, especially if captured from a first person perspective. It’s naturally dynamic and exciting to watch, with a speed and sense of danger that is hard to capture as effectively with other sports. Shooting in these conditions presents its own challenges and in order to be successful it’s necessary to understand not only the sport itself but also the environment.
Getting the shot
The first thing any filmmaker tends to think about – before getting to the technical issues – is how a sequence of effective shots might be captured. To make a strong winter sports video it’s best to do some of the shooting from a distance, because this helps to give the viewer a fuller perspective on what’s happening and where events are taking place. A sports video editing specialist can easily fit this into and around other footage.
In order to get the first person perspective that really makes winter sports action videos thrilling, it’s worth looking at some of the specialist gadgets available. At the top of the range, Liquid Image Ape HD ski goggles come with a built-in camera that captures high quality images of whatever the face is pointing at, although it is necessary to get used to moving the head and not just the eyes, which may require relearning balance in some sport. Simpler and cheaper but great for dynamic action shots is the Fat Gecko Kaboom, which is a sort of helmet-mounted selfie stick that can be adjusted to look either ahead or backwards at the person engaging in the sport.
Colour and light
Because snow reflects so much light it’s easy for winter sports films to end up blown out and difficult to make visual sense of. Polarising lenses are essential on any camera equipment in use. It’s a good idea to think about dressing for the light – dark clothing presents a level of contrast that makes the film hard to follow, but bright reds, blues or yellows can work well. The angles of some shots may need to be adjusted to minimise glare. Whilst mid-day shots can capture that classic contrast between blue skies and white slopes, it’s often easier to work in early morning or late afternoon light.
Temperature and equipment
Some standard filming equipment can prove problematic when shooting in the cold. Batteries may not work as well as they should, so take lots of spares and keep them somewhere warm (in an inner pocket right next to the body is often simplest). Lenses can be fogged by condensation when taken back into a warm environment. There’s a simple trick to work around this: seal them inside zip-lock bags whilst still out in the cold. Finally, photographers need to be alert to the condensation potential of their own breath. Wearing a cloth mask helps to protect any lenses near the face.
Following these simple tips can significantly improve winter sports videos and make sure they really make an impact.
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