For several years I have been filming my son’s football games. I always gave a copy to the coach for review. The tapes proved so useful I became a sort of official team videographer. During this time I have collected some tips that help me provide what the coach needs. In no particular order they are:

  • A “good” video camera. Mini-DV is probably the best format to choose.
  • Good optics – go for the Carl-Zeiss if you can
  • Deep optical zoom – 10x at least. Don’t mistake this for digital zoom which most cameras also support. Only optical zoom will preserve the best image quality
  • Position yourself behind the end zone if possible. Your 10x optical zoom will allow you to fill the frame with the front line even when on the other end of the field
  • Make a point to film the down markers between plays to give the coach a sense of where the ball is
  • Use the “sports” exposure mode if available
  • Spend good money on a good tripod. Cheap ones are just not smooth enough for videography
  • Consider a camera with the fold out display – they add another way to view the scene
  • If you are going to use the fold out display a lot, find the largest battery your camera will take and buy it – you will never regret having power left over… you will regret when your camera loses power when your kid makes the touchdown
  • Keep spare tapes on hand
  • Invest in an older model of DVD recorder – I bought mine from Sears for $50
  • Use the S-Video connector if possible. NTSC video is not very good at clarity so anything you can do to maintain quality is worth the cable price
  • Avoid the very wide shots except at kickoffs maybe. The goal here is to see the action, but also to discern the numbers on the player’s uniforms. NTSC only has so many pixels and any scene much larger that the front line is probably not going to help the coach
  • Watch professional football to see how the pro camera folks pan and zoom.
  • Keep your mouth shut. No need for your remarks on the video tape unless you are trying to provide an otherwise not obvious insight
  • Camera shake removal features are essential – do not buy a video camera without it

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