When it comes to showcasing your skills as a filmmaker, few subjects offer more possibilities for capturing the excitement, action, or drama of life than sports.
And few sports give you the mix of tense showdowns and dynamic running plays that you get from baseball.
In baseball, action takes place on several levels, moving from wide and expansive play to narrow and more intensely localized moments, so this presents some fascinating challenges to the indie filmmaker wishing to capture the intricacies of the play on the various levels it takes place.
Here are a few tips to help you make the best of your baseball film.
Choose the right kit
For filming sports, few cameras can compete with the GoPro range. The GoPro Hero 7 offers a huge array of features to help you capture every pitch and swing in the game.
It is the first GoPro with a touch digital zoom and can film in up to 4K resolution at up to 60fps. This makes it perfect for those slow-motion shots that capture the impact of bat on ball in minute detail. You can also choose from some excellent GoPro alternatives.
Technology increases human capacity. Cameras are to a filmmaker what brushes and paints are to a painter and a degree of technical proficiency will allow you to get the best out of your tools.
Of course, fancy cameras won’t automatically make your film better, but the right gear will equip you to be able to tell your story as well as you can.
If you invest in decent equipment and learn how to use it properly, your film will have a glossy, professional sheen to it that affords the viewer a degree of aesthetic satisfaction.
Choose your perspective
How you hold your camera and where you are able to put it is almost as important to your baseball film as the camera itself. There are a range of mounts to choose from, each giving you a different perspective on the game.
A head mount will give you the fans’ perspective, while a chest mount, worn on the field itself, will give you a unique player’s point of view. You could even invest in a drone for some aerial shots to give your film a real professional edge.
Be sure to mix up what perspectives you use, as sophisticated use of various perspectives and angles will add dimensions to your film and keep the viewer engaged.
Choose the right perspective for the scene you are shooting and consider what effect you are trying to create on the viewer.
Select the right shots
This is perhaps the most important aspect and allows you to really start getting artistic with your film. Just filming an MLB game from the stands is fine, but if you want to really show your stuff, look for a local league, where you’ll get far better access.
You don’t have to feature the favorites for the World Series to make your baseball film a winner, and the wider range of shots and close proximity to the action can make all the difference.
Plan your shots in advance to make sure you get a variety of angles and feature a range of players.
Exploiting different camera techniques to foreground certain elements or people in the story you’re trying to tell and you’ll give layers of complexity to the finished product, adding nuance to your work.
Baseball, with its complex dynamics and intricate strategic interplay, makes the perfect subject matter for getting creative with shots and angles.
Let’s use some examples: you open the film with a dramatic aerial shot over a baseball stadium during a game. The aerial shot looks impressive, establishes location, and captures the scale of the scene and the magnitude of the events taking place.
Showing all the players and fans at once communicates to the viewer that baseball is an inherently social activity that brings people together and that one that creates synergy between people from vastly disparate backgrounds.
(Caption: Aerial shots really help to convey the magnitude of a baseball game)
Contained within this grand narrative, however, are countless other small narratives which can be brought to the foreground and various points during the game.
For example, the way the players relate to each other differs wildly depending on their respective positions in the team and there are actually several games going on within any given game of baseball.
The dynamic between the pitcher and the batter is perhaps the example which illustrates this most clearly.
When the pitcher is getting ready to pitch, the crucial action is taking place between the pitcher, the batter and, to a lesser extent, the catcher so an aerial shot isn’t going to do this moment justice.
Depending on how much access you have to the game, you’ll need to try and get up close and film the action from an angle which renders the drama and intensity of the relationship between batter and pitcher.
You may wish to foreground one of the two depending on what’s happening in the game. you.
Who’s winning? Is the pitcher under pressure to strike the batter out or does the batter need to get a hit to save his team?
Focusing on one of these players will convey their emotions and experience more intensely and elevate your film to a higher plane of artistry.
(Caption: The pitcher is often at the heart of the action)
As an indie filmmaker at an actual baseball game you are obviously going to be limited in the angles you can get and the shots you can do, but thinking critically about how best to frame the events taking place on the diamond will allow you to maximize the expressive potential of your film.
Film as much as possible
You never know when the game-winning moment will occur, so be prepared to film as much as possible of the game – you can always edit it later. Remember to bring plenty of batteries and SD storage with you so you don’t run out.
Nothing is more frustrating than losing the opportunity to catch a seminal baseball moment on film due to not having enough battery so always be prepared.
Making a good film is quite often a case of editing down from hours and hours of footage so a high volume of quantity can potentially translate into high-quality content, if you are savvy enough to recognize what works and what doesn’t during the editing process.
Consider using several smaller storage cards through the game, so that if you ever have a problem with the equipment, you won’t lose a full day’s footage.
Baseball is a sport in which anything can happen out of the blue at totally unexpected moments, so don’t let your concentration slip during the less eventful periods of play.
Shooting Sports Video – Summary
Making a good film about baseball as an indie filmmaker isn’t going to be easy. There are several constraints acting upon you and the multifaceted nature of the game itself is going to test your skills as a filmmaker when seeking to capture its complexity.
But with the right equipment, preparation, and dedication you may find yourself rising to the challenge and shooting a film that does the wonderful sport of baseball justice.
The appeal of your film may be limited to baseball fans but if done well, could arouse interest among communities of baseball fans. As Kevin Costner was told in Field of Dreams: “If you film it, they will watch!”