Abe Moore, Texas Parks and Wildlife
That seems to be the first question out of my mouth lately. Even with 20 years of experience as a videographer, I’m constantly having to relearn which equipment is really needed and when it’s time to break out the right new tool.
At Texas Parks and Wildlife Television, we strive to tell compelling stories, and we’ve been using standard ENG camera packages since the show started back in the 1980s. It’s our happy place. They have all you need. High-Definition video, at least two channels of audio, built-in neutral density filters for bright sun, and zoomable lens capability. But there are times when you need something special to spice things up or make a shot that’s otherwise impossible. That’s where new toys can be crucial.
Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (DSLRs) aren’t just for still photography anymore. As storage space has increased, so have manufacturer’s desires to add a little motion in the traditional camera housing. They don’t replace the big guns of the ENG, and their limitation in audio quality relegates them to a support role, but digital still cameras can be super fun. With a little bit of knowledge and some added accessories these cameras offer so much. They capture great HD footage in low-light conditions, can get that filmy shallow depth of field feel, and are perfect for time-lapse shots to accent your video package.
These tiny toys are a mind-blower and should be in every shop’s toolbox. They are excellent for point-of-view shots to really put the audience in the scene. They mount to bikes, kayaks, hats, and anything else you can think of to offer an interesting angle that the bulk of a large camera prevents. GoPros also have opened up the world of underwater and foul-weather videography to shops that don’t have the extreme budget needed for waterproof housings and special diving equipment. However, you can’t just walk around with GoPros strapped to every part of your body. Again, audio quality is lacking, and the customary fixed focal length and near fish-eye width can be a strain on the eyes. The latest addition to our Go Pro package here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Television is a handheld gimbal. Cheap and easy to use it gets you amazing steady footage all in the palm of one hand. This was all shot with a GoPro on a gimbal.
Anyone with a GoPro is bound to jump to the next new video toy eventually – drones.
Aerial images used to require special trips with pilots. Now you can strap that GoPro to a remote-controlled helicopter and grab footage that will blow your mind. Right now many new regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration make filming in flight a nightmare of paperwork. But as soon as you get the go ahead, it can really take your video to the next level without breaking the bank. You might buy two, because one will be in the shop before you know it. What comes up, must come down, unfortunately.
To push the boundaries one more step, I wanted to let you in on a little secret. Texas Parks and Wildlife is experimenting with the 360 Fly camera. One of our IT dudes showed me some of his recordings with this little gem, and it’s like selfies on steroids. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it just yet, but the gist is it records in every direction all at the same time. Basically a 360 degree camera. This may be a huge leap for the Facebook and Instagram world. Imagine posting a 360-degree view of your favorite campsite, paddling trail or hunt. This is next level stuff, here and now.
By the time this story runs, no doubt there will be even more toys. We try and push storytelling to the next level every day, and these technological wonders help us do just that. So go beg to your budget person and get one of these toys. Once you find the on button, you will be happy with what you get!