Whether it’s just for family and friends, social media or YouTube, more and more hunters are recording videos of their hunts. To get it just right, though, it’s tougher than it might look. Follow these tips, however, and you’ll soon be well on your way to filming like a pro.
For YouTube or social media, shorter is better (one to 10 minutes). Include an introduction, but keep it short, make it interesting and highlight the who, what, where, when and why. Also include a wrap-up, such as a thank you to viewers or an invitation to watch additional videos. Be creative and leave viewers wanting more.
Many of us are great at capturing grip-and-grin clips after the action, but to hold a viewer’s attention, you need plenty of short integral elements to enhance the storyline. Some examples include close-ups of bullets being loaded in a rifle, the shot itself, lacing up boots, eyes scanning a horizon, a sunrise or sunset, donning a backpack, and walking or sitting silently. That kind of footage is essential when you’re editing and stitching together clips to create a storyline. Note that clips longer than 20 seconds can become tedious to watch, so try to keep them to less than eight seconds.
Unscripted human emotion is mesmerizing. Capturing frustration, excitement, anguish or exhaustion on video allows viewers to see and experience the hunt with you. Close-ups of eyes and facial expressions, in particular, are gold. Avoid clichés, however, which turn off viewers. Instead, be unique, informative and authentic.
Learn to properly use your recording device’s white balance, iris, gain and focus settings to ensure every clip is crisp and well lit. Sometimes, the manual focus is superior to autofocus, and vice versa. Internal microphones capture sound, but not enough, so use a headset and external mics whenever possible. A properly set up shotgun mic attached to the camera, along with small wireless clip-on mics, will improve the sound. Most of today’s cameras have an image-stabilizing function, but it isn’t enough—few people can shoot steady, handheld videos, especially at full zoom. Whenever possible, use a tree limb, tripod or even a monopod to help hold the camera still.
Some of today’s hunting TV shows often lose sight of the reasons we hunt. Even when making home videos, portray core hunting values by respectfully showing a downed animal in ways that even non-hunters can appreciate. Avoid focusing exclusively on the trophy, and also convey an appreciation for the meat, the privilege of hunting and the overall experience.