You Have to Get Close for Good Video
Editor’s Note: Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, today the vice president of Mossy Oak in charge of television and video production, may have filmed more TV shows and videos about hunting and the outdoors than anyone in the industry. Currently Cuz is responsible for producing these TV shows, including “Hunting the Country,” “Deer Thugs,” “Turkey Thugs,” “Inside the Obsession” and “GameKeepers,” as well as all the videos that Mossy Oak produces. A growing number of sportsmen who hunt together trade off between being the videographer and being the hunter. Good video cameras are less expensive today than they ever have been, besides being smaller, lighter and easier to use. Often today hunters don’t tell the stories of their hunts to friends and family but instead show the videos of their hunts. To provide this new breed of video hunters and shooters with the best information available, we’ve asked Ronnie Strickland to tell us how to avoid the most-common mistakes that most video hunters make, when they’re trying to film a hunt.
The most-common mistake that most videographers make is: they don’t get close enough to the hunter, when they are videoing the hunt. This problem comes from not establishing who is in charge, before the hunt. In most instances, the hunter assumes that he’s in charge of the hunt, because he’s the one who will be taking the shot. However, to get good videography of the hunt, the man with the camera has to be in charge. When the cameraman is in charge, he or she is no longer a cameraman but rather a field producer, because he or she determines how the hunt will go and what needs to be done to get the best video possible. I have seen a field producer before get in a different tree from the hunter, climb higher in the tree than the hunter and be completely out of touch with the hunter.
But the number-one element that makes a successful video hunt is: the cameraman and the hunter have to be able to communicate with quiet whispers, especially when the deer is within range. The cameraman has to make sure he has the right camera angle with the deer full frame in the camera. Many times, the field producer has to tell the hunter in a soft whisper to, “Wait, wait, wait.”
The way we video at Mossy Oak, once we place the hunter’s stand where it needs to be, the field producer climbs the tree and stands in the hunter’s stand. Then he places his stand and his camera arm about 6-inches above the hunter’s stand. So, when the field producer is sitting down, his head is only about 6-inches from the shooter’s head. By being really close to the hunter, you can communicate, just before the hunter takes the shot. Just as importantly, through your camera lens, you most always will be able to see the animal – the same way the hunter sees him and from almost the same angle that the hunter sees him. One of the most-critical ingredients to shooting good and even great outdoor video is the cameraman and the hunter have to be close to each other.
Tomorrow: The Camera Squeak That Lives