Wednesday, November 09, 2011

How to video at an Occupy event

An artist/photographer friend, who is frustrated at the video efforts of occupiers who fail to catch the significant action because they don't know how to do basic camera handling, wrote a post about techniques:
Note To Videograph Occupiers

Kudos to you all for your courage and your convictions. You are participating in a historic event that will be talked about and remembered for decades.

The tape that you are shooting is an important part of the documentation of this historic event. It is truly important that your tape show, with accuracy, the events as they occur. Your job as a videographer is to reveal.

If your tape is too dark, has camera shake, or has a blocked view of the event because of crowding, your tape will not show what happened. It will not reveal, but conceal.

A few tips:

1) Camera shake renders tape unwatchable. Whatever you are taping should move, but the camera itself should stay still. Make a tripod of your legs and brace the camera against your torso. When you follow action by panning with the camera, use a smooth , sweeping motion of your upper body to move the camera lens along a smooth path.

If you must have a steadicam, you can make one yourself. There are many references here on diy steadicams

...but you need to learn to walk with it, so

please read this tutorial, and practice!!!!

2) Situational awareness is also a top concern. Try to keep the main action in your viewfinder at all times. This can be a challenge. Remember, you are there to record these events for history; it requires some emotional detachment to remember this when things begin to happen quickly. Look up from the viewfinder once in a while to be sure that you aren't missing the main action. If a person steps in front of you to film, MOVE. Be aware that people WILL step in front of you. Expect it, and be prepared for it. If a crowd forms, hold the camera up over their heads and point it at the action.

3) If you are using a standard video camera and not a phone, it might be worth it to purchase a camera mounted light, sometimes called a sun gun. It fits directly into the hot shoe on top of your camera. This can make all the difference at night. Some of these police actions are taking place under cover of darkness.

Good tape is almost never the result of a happy accident. It is the result of mastering a few easy, basic techniques.. and of remaining situationally aware when the going gets tough.

Take these few points to heart when you tape, and history (and the internet) will thank you.


kidnap said...

Thank you for publishing this. The Occupy events are too important...documentation is critical. very helpful. I will pass this on.

ellroon said...

Thank you for all you have done!

Steve Bates said...

Agree with kidnap. But it's awfully hard to concentrate on camera work when the camera itself draws the attention of police. It gives "camera shake" a whole new meaning!

ellroon said...

Exactly. And when you video yourself being shot by rubber bullets or clubbed or gassed or...