What are some simple, easy ways to shoot amazing action sequences?
Indy Mogul set out to answer this question in a video released yesterday. First, the channel sits down with Devin Graham, an action and extreme sports videographer based in Utah who releases popular videos on his YouTube channel, devinsupertramp. Graham offers several basic but useful tips for how to shoot action sequences.
To see Graham's tips in action on a parkour course, watch Indy Mogul's video in full below.
Get Up Close and Personal
The action is going to be more impactful and intense if you can get up close. This puts the viewer in the action and makes them feel like they're a part of it.
So, while also keeping the safety of everyone involved in mind, get as close to the action or subject as you possibly can.
Indy Mogul's video shows the real risks associated with this when one of their cameras gets a rough kick on the parkour course.
Use a Wide-Angle Lens
When filming something action-packed or risky, the urge might be to stand back and just zoom in to capture it. Graham advises against using a telephoto lens, pointing out that the camera loses a lot of the wider action when it zooms in. And because you want the action to feel close and real, you need to put the camera inside the sequence and shoot wide if you can.
Graham listed three of his go-to lenses. They include the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L (Graham likes this lens particularly because there's little distortion or fish-eye to deal with), the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III, and the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II.
There are many resources where you can learn more about the differences in focal length and how to choose lenses, including right here on No Film School.
Stabilize Your Footage
While you're getting that up-close footage, you need to make sure the viewer can actually see what is going on. If you have the money to spend, you can add the Glidecam HD-PRO to your arsenal, but there are numerous options for other DSLR stabilizers.
Mount Your Camera in Unique Places
As with any type of shooting, don't limit yourself to shooting straight-on or basic shots. Consider getting unique angles, including below and above your action. You can also try fun point-of-view shots using different mounts, including the unique helmet "unicorn mount."
Finally, something that's mentioned in passing in the video, but should really be hammered home, is that you should Insure your equipment, especially on high-risk action shoots. Canon offers plans like CarePAK Plus, but there are also independent options like the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) Photo Care Insurance.
Look for Inspiration
One of the first things Graham mentions in his interview is looking to an experienced director for inspiration.
His favorite? Michael Bay. Maybe start with a quick montage like this one to get inspired:
Sweet, sweet action. What are some other directors you would want to emulate in your action footage?