The are many rules of thumbs for taking pictures, such as rule
of thirds... which I won't get into. It's a matter of making each shot
interesting by not having a single object in the middle of
the frame. Let's go through my thoughts about the scenes with the
above snapshots. The shots are not random, they were shot that way by
Preplanned straight lines
Snapshots #1, 2, 3 and 4 all show shots where the action is
along well established lines.... baseball and horseshoes are great for
having such structured paths.
The straight lines from base to base make it easy to
be positioned to shoot the action without having to either pan or
zoom. Most of the time there isn't any real action, but you can be
there shooting when there is. The same holds true for the line
from pitcher to batter.
#4 and 6 show how to use chain link fencing for interest. Most
of the time I was staying clear of the fencing, easy to do because
the links are big enough to let the camcorder shoot through with an
Sometimes I'll back up just enough to let a single link of the
fence be the frame for a scene, as in #5. Then in #6 I used two fences, the
closer for framing, and the farther one for visual interest.
Use Manual Focus.... not automatic
At any kind of ball game I set the focus manually.
Zoom all the way into what you want to focus on, set the focus there, then
shoot as usual.
The fencing would play havoc with auto
focusing. So would the batter take the focus away from Justin when he was
pitching, when I have both batter and pitcher in a tight visual
Action in Groups
#6, 7 and 11 each show groups of people... a team in the
dugout, both teams at the closing, and the fans.
It's good to keep shifting from one extreme to another... a
single player or two to a group... a tight in shot versus a wide view.... shots
with lots of motion, and those without. If the action gets too stiff you
can add custom effects or transitions in the editing.
I don't pan at a ballgame. I choose either a player or the ball
and follow it. The background is automatically panning faster than you would
ever do it manually as the scene unfolds. I try to keep the camcorder
focused on whatever it is I picked to take the shot.
Like panning, I don't usually zoom. The computer editing can
zoom steadier than I can. But, as with all suggestions, rules are meant to be
broken at times, as long as the breaking doesn't become the rule.
On the other hand, I take lots of scenes tightly zoomed in.
#16 is the view of the pitching/batting action taken from beyond the
outfield. #18 shows Justin's foot on first base, zoomed into from my position
behind the batter.
I have the digital zoom feature turned off and only go as
far as I can with the optical one.
#17 is a close-up of Justin's face... a moderate zoom from
where I was.
Get some footage from the Back
#8 and 9 show Justin and another team-mate in the dugout bench
from the back. Views from behind can imply a strong story to a viewer... maybe
one that is better than the reality of the subject.
Justin wears #24 on his shirt.... the pair of 24/7 had some
meaning. There were a few times I was shooting #24 from behind, only to find it
wasn't Justin.... it's funny that two of them on the team wear the same
Any sport-related video can use a shot or two of slow motion.
The Slow Down - Half effect is perfect for it. I used it on the clip
of Justin on the sideline preparing to hit, and again on the scene
#2 of him scoring from 3rd on a walked batter.
Take Still Pix
#10 shows a virtual Sports Illustrated cover as the titling
effect as part of the Brady Bunch 60 second opening script... it's also used by
itself at the end of the 10 minute video.
My camcorder can take 2 megapixel snapshots. But Bernadette was
there using a 7 megapixel camera. She's the Photoshop guru who made
this magazine cover from one of her shots.
No, he hasn't pitched a no-hitter... but he likes pitching. I
saw an article the other week about major league pitchers starting at
younger ages, so the headlines fit with current stories.
I used IrfanView and Paint.net to convert the large cover
file to an 800x600 PNG file for use in the Brady script.
an Opening Clip...
A Photo Story with added text makes a great opening clip
for any project... for this video I went further and used the Brady
Bunch Avisynth script made by Al HitTheBongo. I tested the
script a couple weeks ago and was primed for using it as a real opening
I used the script as downloaded, opening it
in VirtualDub, adding the resize filter to make the output 720x480
pixels, and saving it to a new DV-AVI file using the Panasonic
codec for compression.
Frame snapshots #11, 12 and 13 are from the script segment.
To summarize again what's happening: you open the script in VirtualDub (or other
video app that accepts it... Movie Maker won't) and use it the same way you
use a single video input file. Avisynth, running in the background in
stealth mode (the only way it works) reads the script and puts all the
pixels together from the assorted video clips, handing the pixels to VirtualDub,
one frame at a time. Avisynth is a 'frame server'.
This opening again demos how powerful such a 'frame server'
utility can be... if you have a neat script like Al's.
The Bunch of Projects
For the script, I made 24 projects of 30+ seconds each...
more than I needed so I had different ones to choose from. I saved each
project to a DV-AVI file.
These clips did double-duty. Many were used by script to make
the opening scene... and they were all used as full-sized clips for the final
The Final Assembly
My goal was to have a copy of the finished video on my
website, and another on YouTube. That gave me one restraint... keep
below YouTube's maximum of 10 minutes... it's 9:57.
I used the Video for LAN (768 kbps) setting, my
usual for videos on my website. Rather than re-render it with
my custom Video for YouTube profile, I uploaded the same 57 MB
file and was surprised how quickly YouTube converted it to a Flash
file ready for viewing. It took only about 5 minutes after the
For the batch of projects and the final assembly, I used some
special transitions and two special effects, the slow down -
half used in two of the clips. Some well-placed PIP transitions can do lots
for a sports themed video. Snapshot #14 shows one of them, using a
Pixelan PIP transition.
The background music isn't quite what I had in mind. As
often happens, it's the last thing into the mix and you're ready to roll out it
out for the initial showing. I lowered it's volume relative to the sounds
of the video clips a bit more than usual.
Closing... and What's Next?
This video went online a couple
days ago and viewers' comments are starting to roll in. Of course
they all love it, at least family and close friends, the only ones who really
count for something like this family home video.
You can't put this much effort into
a video of every game... but it's better to do a few of them a year
well then to roll out batches of them not worth
Have a great week and enjoy your summer fun
and video work...