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BY ALEX ZIDOCK
You can never capture enough video on a shoot. And when you’re a “one man/woman band” you need to make sure your composition exudes the talents of a full orchestra when it finally lights up the television screen. So while you have the eye for the shot and the knowledge to make your primary camera hum, you need another point of view to captivate your audience. Point-of-view cameras were developed to be hands-free. They
mount on handlebars, helmets or with chest harness to record the point-of-view of the person doing the activity.
The cameras seem to be everywhere now. They are inexpensive enough that every biker, diver and driver has one. And you, whether a seasoned pro or new to video, need one too, and you need to use it often.
The point-of-view camera is a specialty tool for videographers, to be used in addition to whatever other video equipment you shoot. The stuff you get from it may not work on every shoot, but when you do get something unique it makes your scene sing.
Compact, these cameras are usually super wide angle and the lenses don’t zoom. Most record 1080 HD and you can operate some from your smart phone.
Before you buy a point-of-view camera check them all out and pick the model that fits your type of shooting. There are several styles and designs and they offer a variety features. With some you can’t see what you are recording. Some are water resistant, some totally waterproof. One model can record in “ski mode,” capturing the downhill runs, while automatically shutting off while you are standing in the lift line. The important thing is they all can take a tumble, eat dirt and still function.
They record hours of video on one charge and can be mounted on almost anything. For example, a one-ounce “cigar-head” camera model can clip to your ear with a wire leading to the mechanical body that you can stick in your pocket.
Point-of-view cameras can tape in high speed for replay in slow motion. The more you use it the more applications you’ll find for it.
These cameras are great for fishermen to wear on their heads or chest to record landing that special fish. Or it can be mounted on an archer to capture the shot of a lifetime. But I don’t use mine that way.
I take my point-of-view camera on every story. Sometimes it just stays in my bag. It’s there but never forgotten. I put it in places where I can’t stay to get a particular shot, in situations where I don’t want to be because of the danger involved, or at an unusual angle that I can’t get at with my larger video camera.
A point-of-view camera can transform a mundane scene on a simple fishing trip into an appealing two-camera sequence. I can hold it under water for a fish shot, or I can mount it on a wading staff and hold it on the bottom of a shallow lake or stream. I can mount it on the rim of a landing net and film the capture of a fish. Mine even has a waterproof case that floats if I let go of it.
When I get to the editing suite I check my point-of-view footage first. It is usually the secondary camera and it will not carry the main image of the story that I’m building. But by capturing it first, when I’m selecting from my primary camera I can imagine where the point-of-view shots will work and I keep that in mind when I finally get to edit the story.
I produce two 30-minute shows for television, mostly as a one-person crew. Yet my stories have multiple angles and perspectives. I don’t know how I ever worked without a point-of-view camera. ♦
–Alex Zidock is a multi-tasking communicator who produces the award-winning “Out in the Open,” a weekly regional outdoors television talk program co-hosted with his wife JoAnne; and a monthly variety program, “Wallenpaupack Life,” in the Pocono Mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania. A masthead writer, book author, video producer and graphic designer, he’s been a still photography and film/video professional since the early 1960s. He’s been a member of OWAA since 1975. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.