Article and images by Phil Tuttle, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Get higher-quality cameras, record amazing content
Managing fish and wildlife is expensive. Habitat projects, wildlife transplants and monitoring surveys all take serious chunks out of every agency’s budget. As communication professionals, we play a key role in helping ensure our agencies have the funding they need.
R3 (recruitment, retention and reactivation) plays an integral role in keeping this funding flowing to our agencies. Funding for these projects often comes from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and permits. For example, in Utah, management and agency personnel time is funded 90-percent by fishing and hunting license sales and the excise tax on fishing and hunting equipment.
For this critical work to continue, we must engage more hunters and anglers and keep current hunters and anglers in the fold. This is why the creation of more engaging content for social media, YouTube channels and websites is more important than ever.
Creating better and more engaging content may seem easier said than done. However, thanks to newer technologies, it’s easier today than ever before. I’m an advocate in this area. Here’s my soap box message:
Don’t shortchange yourselves
Look past the price tag. You get what you pay for. A newer camera will pay for itself many times over due to less time spent in post-production and increased customer engagement because the video and images you capture will be next level.
Camera, audio and video equipment helps tell our stories which, in turn, helps sell licenses. Agencies rarely blink when purchasing a new boat, ATV or vehicle for work activities. But upgrading our camera gear it is often frowned upon. This mentality needs to change.
Social tolerance for subpar media is dwindling. We need to adapt. After conversing with many state agency folks at ACI in Nashville last fall, I realized that many professionals are not using relevant camera equipment. Technology is far surpassing the practical use of older, clunky equipment and cameras. Video cameras need high frame rates to capture slow-motion video, interchangeable lenses and greater abilities to produce more eye-catching imagery.
The right equipment can make the difference in telling our stories in a way that captures an audience. I’m not a camera salesman (luckily), but I have been impressed with the camera our agency purchased last fall, the Sony FS5. The FS5 records not only high frame rates, but also incorporates the ability to “pre-record.”
Pre-record is a camera function that, simply put, is a way to never miss anything. Wildlife is unpredictable. When a bull elk jumps over a fence, an eagle flies away or a trout explodes out of the water, we often miss the shot. Amazingly, pre-record allows you to press the record button AFTER you see something unfold in your viewfinder and retroactively capture something that already took place. It’s like magic. Really! OK, not magic, but darn close!
When a camera is in pre-record mode, it’s always recording and deleting video. When you hit the record button, it writes your data to a disk, including up to 8 seconds of “the past” that was already recorded. Pre-record can change for the better the way you shoot video.
Again, make it happen. Save yourselves hundreds of hours, time and money in post-production work. Only hit the record button after you see something that looked amazing, and you’ll capture the video you’ve been dreaming of.
More advanced cameras, camcorders and external recorders allow videographers to capture more visually pleasing media. Don’t miss the train. Get ahead of the game, and tell better stories with better equipment. Biting the bullet and purchasing advanced camera gear will make a significant difference in your ability to capture better wildlife-related content.
(Note: All wildlife photos are actually screenshots of video footage taken from the FS5 video camera.)