Today I shot a news video (better quality version here) of a storage unit building going up in flames. As I was busting a move to get to the fire, I heard the words of Lenslinger echoing between my ears.
From his recent comment in “Taking me To Task” post:
“As for tripods, any (TV news) shooter who doesn’t use one is a rank amateur. Why? Mostly because they extrapolate the amount of long shots possible as well as the number of STEADY close-ups you can get.”
Rank amateur. Ouch. Ok, I’m not a TV news shooter, but I still got the message. I’ve always tried to avoid tripod use whenever possible. I’m pretty adept at hand-holding my Sony HVR Z1U–or at least that is the excuse I used to delude myself into thinking that I don’t need the sticks. It is a pain to drag my Sachlter around. It’s bigger than it needs to be for my small camera. Invariable at a shoot, when I’ve gone off-pod, the cameraless sticks ends up in my shot. Every time.
Which brings me back to today. As I ran from my car to the fully involved storage unit, I decided to take my pod with me. Man, I’m glad I did. The yellow tape prevented me from roaming around the scene like I do at a house fire. I kept my camera on the tripod as I zoomed in for as many tight shots as I could make. I wasn’t able to get many detail shots because of being back so far. The only time I went off the pod is when I did some quick nat sound pop interviews and a couple of shots of firemen fiddling with their air tanks. Because all my other video was steady, my hand-held stuff stood out in my edit.
What I learned today (but really already knew) is that tripods do make your video look better. They also allow you to get more long shots that you wouldn’t even attempt if you were handheld. I found myself shooting more wide, medium and tight shots of each composition I made. This made editing much easier and faster. It is still a pain in the butt to carry it around (I don’t have a TV reporter for that:) ) but if I’m going to become a better shooter, I will have to become one with the pod.