Self-Filming for the Outdoors. Where to Start.
by Jason Norris, Co-Host, Mass Pursuit TV & 24yr US Army Combat Veteran
When it comes to self-filming your outdoor hunting adventures, having the right video equipment can make all the difference in capturing high-quality footage. Whether you're an experienced videographer or just starting out to capture personal memories, investing in the right equipment and knowing how to use it can greatly enhance your filming enjoyment and experience.
One of the most simple but effective recording devices for self-filming is a Point of View (POV) camera like the ones from Tactacam (www.tactacam.com). These compact cameras are designed to be mounted on your bow, crossbow, rifle, or even submerged to capture some really cool underwater action. They have several variations to meet your desired outcome,
along with numerous accessories and more. POV cameras allow you to capture immersive, first-person perspective shots. They are durable, waterproof, and can withstand rugged outdoor conditions. Their durability and wide-angle lens make them ideal for capturing intense moments during hunts.
Wilbur, Keith, and I also incorporate Go-Pros. These are extremely rugged and film up to 4K with the newer models having several different internal lenses to record from. I use the Hero 11 Black Mini since the beginning of the summer with some really cool footage. The time-lapse modes have always been my favorite to capture B-role for the show. The newer models now have the timewarp, star trails, and light painting modes. There is
nothing cooler than seeing a clear sky with stars zooming by until the sun comes up over your camp. I highly recommend having 2 or more POV cameras to capture up-close action. Don’t forget about these new cell phones as well but that will be for a future follow-on blog.
For those looking for more professional-quality footage and a “main or primary camera”, DSLR or camcorders are the top options. In addition to a POV camera, using a DSLR or a camcorder provides you with more versatility for capturing your main shots. DSLRs offer superior image quality and interchangeable lenses that allow for creative control over depth of field and focal length. Camcorders, on the other hand, provide ease of use providing an all-in-one solution with built-in stabilization technology, making them ideal for capturing steady shots while on the move and exceptional on a tripod or camera arm.
We have consistently used Sony cameras from the Handycams to their mirrorless models over the years, but I recently added a Canon EOS to my personal inventory. I am still getting used to it but the improvements in technology since I bought the Sony five years ago is big. I personally like using DSLR for the weight, the ability to use one hand to manipulate the controls, and the different lenses however, if you are also wanting long-range recording ability, the extra lenses can be very expensive and now you are adding more weight as well. Camcorders allow for that extension or zoom that you are looking for if you do not have a capable lens with the DSLR. Camcorders also provide a variety of audio capabilities with more ports for wireless mics but that is why they make adapters.
So, how many self-filming hunters have gone through this scenario? This guy is not an exception, at least once a season.
An animal is range.
Grab your weapon.
Look at the screen to see if the animal is in the frame, sometimes hard to see, adjust the camera slowly to see the viewer.
Get into position, aim, ready to shoot, and glance over at the camera again.
The animal moves slightly and out of frame. (Add explicit verbiage, in your head)
Reset your position and camera, and repeat the process until you can successfully shoot and or get busted.
One piece of equipment that is a huge plus when self-filming is a camera monitor/viewer like the FeelWorld Viewers (https://feelworld.ltd). This larger viewing monitor gives two to four more inches of a viewing platform versus the flip-out screens. This was one of the best investments I made from last season along with an extended battery. The biggest issue is
the battery life even though two batteries are included with your monitor. These batteries last approx 15-20 minutes each. Every experienced camera user has been there when you did not have a backup battery. Also, a sunshade is important, most monitors already come with one. Wilbur & I have a monitor, hopefully, this blog will convince Keith to get one now (LoL).
Getting back to using multiple cameras for different angles. The equal importance to obtaining multiple angles is having the necessary support equipment to secure and stabilize your recording platforms and cover those desired angles. One example would be using the Outreach Arm from Fourth Arrow (www.fourtharrowcameraarms.com). This allows another “arm” to secure a POV camera up to 6ft away, well within range for your cell phone to control the camera through an APP. This allows you to put the camera in front, above, or even behind you to capture some really cool angles and perspectives that normally you could only get with a cameraman.
Using accessories like gimbals for those close-in action shots while walking or running, quick pan-overs, etc. are remarkable providing a dynamic addition to your final production. Keeping with the great products that allow you to record in some unorthodox positions, the GoPro Jaws (https://gopro.com) and Tactacam Bendy Clamp are two great tools of the trade. Yes, we are fortunate enough to have all of these at our disposal but…the more equipment, the more weight, accountability, charging, etc. Trust me…when I unload 2-3 Tough Boxes of recording and audio equipment, I get some crazy comments. Those comments turn into “Holy cow”, “How do you charge all those”, and the occasional laugh when I am running around trying to remember where stuff is because they are spread out according to the locations of the wall outlets or a “TBI moment” from my military days.
Lastly, the almighty game-changer...the drone! We have all seen the footage with amazement. There are several types from mini to large commercial-sized models. My quick, simple two cents is to select your top three to five models ranging from how it will be used, the recording capabilities, flight time, flight distance, home option (returns to the take-off location), and probably the biggest hurdle, your budget. Then narrow it down by doing research through various blogs or Youtubers that actually use the equipment, not info-sodes straight from the manufacturer.
Remember that durability and ease of use should be prioritized when choosing video gear for self-filming hunting outdoors. If it is not “user-friendly” it becomes a nice paperweight. Opting for equipment specifically designed for outdoor activities will ensure that your gear withstands rugged conditions while delivering high-quality footage and do not be afraid to go to different retail stores to touch, feel and play with the equipment. Consider using multiple cameras simultaneously will take your self-filming to the next level.
Next month I'll get into the world of audio for self-filmers. Be sure to subscribe to Mass Pursuit TV (www.masspursuittv.com) so you never miss out. We would love to hear how we are doing, leave a comment and let us know. As always, Work Hard. Hunt Harder.