Football banquet video
First, I should probably come clean right off the bat: I'm nothing more than a rank amateur. I do love the editing video I shoot but I'm just a Dad with a consumer camera and iMovie. No one is going to confuse my work with ANYTHING a pro can do and I have such a great appreciation for the work that all professional videographers do.
That being said, I'm wondering if any of you can help me with some advice on how to create a video to be shown at a team banquet next fall for a high school football team. I'm dealing with some serious creative blockage. I just don't know how to make this memorable. Last year, the Boosters organization paid a local guy $1500 to make a video, but those funds are not available this year and I've been asked if I could put something together. I've got a son on the team and will be at every game, so I said I could try.
Are there any of you who have created one of these and can give me ideas of how you painted a picture of the season? Can you share with me how the story unfolded on video? Can you tell me how the video unfolded...how did it begin...what was in the middle...and how did it end? Was there anything you can share that went over well? Mistakes to avoid?
I imagine doing one of these for a team that wins a championship can be bit easier, but I'm not sure about crafting something compelling with an ordinary season.
Thanks in advance for any ideas you can share.
Oh, and I just picked up a Rode Videomic Pro, so I don't have to use the on-board mic.
That's a very selfless act, and I commend you for making that commitment to your kid and his team.
I would say that what makes a great retrospective video stand out from the average parent with an iPhone on the sidelines, is a combination of craft and technique, which you appear eager to learn, with some basic tools and most importantly, an overall sense of story. And the extra work of getting interviews from every team member makes a huge difference as well, because a montage of a season's worth of great plays seems like all you need... but it gets boring, if that's all it is.
Have a finished length in mind before you start; shorter is better. I would aim for a max of seven minutes. For a banquet video, don't try to document the entire season, but hit the high points, and when there aren't any high points, use interviews talking about the love of the game, the nature of sportsmanship and competition, mastering a particular move, finding and exceeding your own physical boundaries, about commitment to a team - those ineffable qualities and life lessons sports boosters always say participation in sports gives people. Make each kid tell their story in their own words, by asking leading questions that can't be answered with just a yes or no. Preface the questions with: "tell me the story of how things turned around in the third quarter in that game against so-and-so... describe what you did, and what you saw others do." Make them tell their story twice, and shoot the two takes with different angles, one in close-up and one in a wider shot. Now you have the flexibility to cut between the two takes and polish their story, compressing it but making it clearer. The coaches are great for this if you have them talk about watching each player's progress over a season and contrasting what they say with what the kids say, by inter-cutting between them. Shoot these with plain, neutral black, white or solid color backdrops, so we concentrate all attention on the faces and body language.
Some random ideas:
Pick a song that the team likes and that has some kind of motivational significance for them. Try during the season to look for shots that illustrate some lyric or emotion or context of that song, in some way, from goofy lip-snyc-ing and dancing clips, to all-in hard training at 2-a-days... to hanging on the team bus during a trip... and save those in a file for use in a nice montage. Sure, you can do this at the back end of the season, after everything has been shot, but if you start the season with a specific idea in mind, shoot things that look like they could fit into that framework, and work on editing this a little bit every week DURING the season, here and there, it will be mostly done already by season's end, and much less last-minute crunching of the schedule means you'll have more efficient use of time to be creative in the edit. What you're doing in this case is like Hollywood editors working from a "pre-vis" storyboard. You can experiment with editing the storyboard even before any games are shot. When they start production, everything is just the thumbnail sketches, an some music or narration, but as the days go by, they replace whatever scenes they can with actual footage, until by the end, all the sketched parts are now real footage, and the job is complete.
Pick an overall visual theme for the season, the coach usually comes up with some kind of team motto or mantra that helps the players focus. You could set up a table-top tableau of props like uniform pieces, balls and down-markers, school game posters, props from homecoming, etc. and use this scene as a backdrop for windows filled with the great shots of game play, or candid shots of the players and coaches. If you have access to a video projector, projecting some game footage over and onto the physical tabletop props, or say, the doors of a locker or wall of a locker room, or the whiteboard with doodles of plays on it... If there's a team float for homecoming parade, shoot the heck out of that, and in post, you might add tracked-in "screens" of the players and best plays "attached" to the float.
This is like the dramatic montage stuff the networks put together for the big leagues.. but you can do something similar on a smaller budget, if you have the time to plan and get elements assembled.
What kind of shots can you get of the games? Are you stuck in the stands, are there even STANDS with a higher look-down view at all? Or is everyone stuck at ground level? One cheap way to get better angles on some of the game play is to put a gopro camera on the end of a long PVC pole, for an instant high angle "blimp" shot.
You also want multiple angles, and get them all from the same side of the field, but in different places. Again, a go-pro or the 40-dollar Chinese knockoff of a go-pro, strapped to a post or other structure, can get you the "b-roll" cut-away angles you need of the crowd and of the players running into the end zone, even if you are stuck at midfield.
You will want to shoot player and coach interviews. It's good you have an off-camera recording system. A simple, inexpensive hardwired lavaliere mic from Radio Shack can do wonders to improve interview audio, versus anything stuck on the camera itself. Shotgun mics on a camera are only good out to about four feet from the lens, IMO. Outdoor audio is hard to get cleanly, due to wind and random noise, but the "lav" mic, pinned under a shirt collar, does a very nice job there.
Use a tripod for everything. Makes a HUGE difference. read up on the Rule Of Thirds in photo composition, and use that idea in all your shot framing. Give yourself enough different frames of wide, medium and tight shots that you have good variety for editing, because a string of jump-cuts of all one kind of framed shot looks very amateur. Wherever possible, for things like interviews, instead of zooming-in and zooming-out, physically reposition the camera closer or father away for the shot changes.
Work on lighting: this doesn't need to be complicated to look good and work well. For interviews outdoors, consider the sun angle: you'd like the sun behind and to one side of the talent, then use a simple reflector card to bounce some soft fill light back at the face. Noon is the worst outdoor shoot time, mid-ornings and afternoons look better. Indoors, a halogen work light, bounced off a white wall and/or ceiling corner, can give a nice, flattering light on the subject, for cheap.
I learned from my daughter;s basketball and volleyball seasons that you want to start and stick to a good system for labeling tapes and media cards from the very beginning. it easily runs away from you and becomes a time-wasting swamp of files if you don't start and stay organized. Time spent organizing saves time being non-productiobe and panicky.
Try to recruit the other parents to help you get certain shots at each game, and pool your efforts to get better coverage without spending any extra.
That's all I have off the top of my head; I hope some of it is useful to you.
Wow Mark, just wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of that; it was exactly what I was hoping for. I know the basics of shooting and editing, but creating a masterpiece is an entirely different challenge. So, your direction is going to be invaluable, so thank you again!
A couple of comments on your response:
1. I agree wholeheartedly about the entire dvd being nothing but highlights...gets boring very quickly.
2. I love your interview ideas, both the possible questions to ask but also having them do it twice...great idea.
3. It's amazing the small things one overlooks that will make great cuts like you mentioned: balls, equipment, etc. Thanks of the reminder.
4. You asked about my restrictions: I'll be able to get right down on the field, will not be stuck in the stands.
5. Great reminder on the tripod...I seldom take without one. Invaluable.
6. I just got done reading Steve Stockman's book "How to Shoot Video that doesn't Suck." Rule of thirds was a chapter...good stuff.
7. Not a bad idea to get other parents involved.
Well, thank you again Mark...so very helpful.
Mark...I've had your response bookmarked so I could revisit it before I start the season. It's rolling around pretty quickly here. Such a great response to my inquiry. Thank you again,
I film a lot of sports recruiting videos. Try to arrange with the coach interview times after practice and interview every player. keep it simple. Then you'll have a lot of stories to pull quotes from.
Even interview them after a big win...a few per game.
If you have a few key players, you'll probably want a little more of them since you'll be showing highlights along with the voice over when editing.
You can find music that's high energy that will drive the edit.
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I don't exactly concur, Brent. Banquet videos should be more about the entire team and those who supported it, and not only the "greatest hits" of the best players. Every one of those kids has a momma, and momma wants to see their baby get screen time... even if they didn't get much game time. And if you believe the motivational speaker jazz about the benefits of sports, then every single player and coach's effort needs to be recognized.
Recruiting videos are a quite different matter, and in that case, a singular focus on one player is the entire point. But the banquet video needs to be a TEAM video.
Well, everyone...its done! I put together what I think is a decent production. It is 9:15 long. I'm my own worst critic but my wife is even worse. If the video didn't work, she certainly would let me know, and she seems to like it.
I decided pretty early on to just take Kenny Chesney's "Boys of Fall" and just follow the lyrics. I found a version of the song with the Saint's Sean Payton talking to his old high school team before a game and boy is the speech powerful. It really added to the song. I then followed it up with Uncle Kracker's You Make Me Smile. I think the latter will help soothe the 4-6 season at the banquet. I do not intend to sell the DVD because I recognize these are copyrighted songs, but if anyone wants one I will find a way to burn it at no charge.
I learned a very valuable lesson: back up your material!!! I had basically the entire thing done with about 3 games to go, and then opened the project only to find all my video was "corrupted." I was sick. I was able to recover about 70% of it through time machine, but I did lose about 25% of my footage. I thought "thank God I don't do this for money or someone would be pi$$ed!"
So THANK YOU Mark & Brent for your suggestions. I checked back often to review your suggestions!
Glad it helped. Curious as to which visual techniques you ended up using.
Mark, not sure what you me by shooting techniques but I tried to get shots from as many possible places I could think of. I was on the sidelines for most every game, but also went up above at times too. Because I wanted to tell a story rather than just do highlights, I felt I needed to be in places where I could get close to the people in the story. I found that I was able to get a couple cool shots by going to the side opposite of our team. That way I was able focus on some of our players on the field and then when the ball was snapped and they moved out of the shot, I had our coaches and bench players in the background. This got me a couple of neat shots.
I also got a couple cool shots from the back end of the end zone when we scored, and as the ball was kicked toward me.
Some of this was done on a tripod, some handheld. I did not open the tripod to its tallest position. I wanted to be able to to get out of the way in a hurry if I needed to. Never had to luckily.
I will say this: football is tough to shoot, especially the passing game.
I've been looking into upgrading my tripod to something that has more of a fluid head. There's a Sony on Amazon that, while it does not actually have a fluid head, some of the reviewers note that it's panning ability is very smooth. I say this because some of the shots in the video are painfully lacking a smooth pan.
If there's an easy way you know of that I can get it to you, I'd be willing more than willing to let you have a look.
Kenny Chesney's music publisher would like to speak with you. :)