Shooting video while riding a skateboard sounds like an accident waiting to happen, right? For skateboard videographers, that's just par for the course. As you might imagine, there are many lessons we can learn from these deft, four-wheeling pros when it comes to shooting and editing videos on the fly.
Even if our skateboarding skills aren't up to snuff (we're a tech company, after all), we wheelie think you'll learn a thing or two, so let's jump in!
1. Keep it distraction-free
Skateboarding is an expressive, creative art form and sport. So imagine ruining an awesome trick because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time—total bummer. That's why skateboard videographers make a point to get out of their subject's way, both literally (ouch) and figuratively.
This principle also applies to shooting video in a more controlled space like an office or studio. Don't become yet another obstacle for your subject to overcome. It's already scary enough standing under studio lights with a camera pointed at your face, so be sure to create an environment that lets your subject do their best work. If there are people in the room that don't need to be there, politely ask them to leave—or just kick 'em out. Distractions are your subject's worst enemies, so keep things simple.
2. Variety is the spice of life
Close-up. Cutaway. Long shot.
Skateboard videographers know a thing or two about mixing up their shots, and it’s this variety that makes for some pretty eye-catching videos. Try this Dickies-sponsored skateboarding video on for size. There's no shortage of perspective changes, classic B-roll footage, and strategically framed shots.
Notice how the first trick in the video is framed by the concrete arches? Skateboard videographers often use their environments to frame their shots. This technique adds depth and character to what might otherwise have been a standard, even boring, shot.
You too can spice up your videos by diversifying your shots. If you're heading to a new location, scope it out ahead of time and think about what backgrounds or angles might work well. When it comes time to shoot, don't be afraid to do multiple takes from a number of angles to ensure you have the best shot. Even if you don't end up using most of it, extra B-roll footage can help you tell a compelling story in ways you never imagined.
3. Experiment with lenses
I don't know about you, but we love a good fisheye shot.
Pro tip: Our videographer Chris Lavigne recommends the Canon 15mm f/2.8 if you're in the market for a new fisheye!
The best skateboard videos utilize many different types of lenses, including the coveted fisheye lens. Skateboarders love the stylized fisheye look because it makes their tricks look more impressive—stairs look bigger and rails look taller. And videographers favor this wide-angle lens because it lets them capture more of the field than would normally be possible with any other lens.
Experimenting with lenses when shooting your own videos can inspire new shots that end up making all the difference. For instance, you can use a fast lens to blur your background, a wide lens to shoot in smaller spaces, and more! Head over to our Library for more inspiration on how to get creative with lenses.
4. Tell a story with the edit
Skateboarding videos have heart. But when the skateboards are tucked away, the helmets removed, and the footage uploaded, how can you continue to convey that story? That's where editing comes in. While there isn't always a clear storyline in every skateboarding video, you'll notice that clips are often arranged strategically to evoke emotion or make a bigger impact.
Check out this awe-inspiring video by the skateboard and surfing shoe giant, Vans. If you don't have 14 minutes to spare, just watch the first minute or so, and then jump ahead to around the 11-minute mark. You’ll see one trick build on the next, gradually becoming more and more epic as the video goes on. Good luck keeping your jaw from hitting the floor.
I really wish they were wearing helmets.
Editing with a story arch in mind is a universal principle in the video world. Your goal is to hook your viewers from the start, use footage from unique angles to keep it fresh, and of course, end with a bang. But don't forget one other super important part of the edit—adding background music.
After all, what's a skateboarding video without killer music? Even Pitchfork, one of the most popular online music publications out there, dedicated an entire post to the 10 best soundtracks from skateboarding videos (seriously, check it out). At Wistia, we believe that background music plays a crucial role in creating emotion around your video's message. So when it comes time to lay down a track, choose a song that helps evoke a specific emotion.
5. Be authentic and keep shooting
We should all be able to laugh at ourselves, right? The freethinking types who are often drawn to the sport don't necessarily care about landing a trick every time. That mentality translates into many skateboarding videos, where wipeout takes and fails often make an appearance. This sort of authenticity is simply part of skateboarding culture, so it makes sense that it also takes form in video.
Being authentic and unafraid of showing our flaws is also part of our brand here at Wistia, which is why you’ll often see flubs in our final cuts. We do an average of 5-10 takes every time we deliver a line in order to get the best one. Don't leave all of your outtakes on the cutting room floor: incorporating a bit of personality into your videos can add a lighthearted touch to even the driest, most boring of videos.
Keep the camera rolling, capture those one-of-a-kind takes you'll never be able to recreate, and don't be afraid to get real!
Get rolling today!
Skateboarding is a tricky craft to master, but shooting and editing awesome video doesn't have to be. Remember to create a comfortable environment for your subject, shoot some extra B-roll footage, and change things up by using different lenses. Cap off the process with a strong edit, and most importantly, stay true to your brand. Now get out there and start rolling!