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The Video Debrief Part 2 - Some Do's And Don't Of Recording At Practice

Keep The Camera In Front Of You

So, you've read Part 1 of The Video Debrief series and you're ready to get out there and film your practices. Great! As we discussed in Part 1 Video is a key component in the sail coaching game and can really bring your training blocks to the next level. However, it's not as easy as it looks! You've got the unique job of a) driving a powerboat b) coaching sailors and c) being a cameraperson. We're just going to go ahead and remind you to wear your kill cord/safety lanyard're doing 3 things at once and if any one of those things go wrong the last thing you want is to end up in the water and your boat driving away without you. Just wear it, trust us. 

Stay Sharp!

Moving on, here are some tips we've compiled from our own experiences as well as common sense advice. 

Equipment Check!

Video recording equipment can be an expensive investment, and whatever you are using - make sure it is 100% charged! It would be annoying to say the least to be out there, having a great training day, and run out of battery halfway through and deny you the chance to show your kids that one crucial drill to drive your point home. 

Is it clean? No seriously, is it clean? Make sure your lens is clean and free of debris, palm grease, or salt. This will come across on the video and lower your video quality. Plus - you're a pro, pro's don't show greasy phone videos. You know what we're talking about.

Be A Pro - Clean Your Lenses!

Another good piece of kit to have is a simple power bank/battery bank, we've had the EasyAcc 24000 mAh for a couple of years and have used it countless times to charge up our phones, tablets and friends in need. Anything with 10-20k mAh is plenty to charge your phone twice over and have enough left for an action camera, gimbal, etc. 

Know Your Camera Angles

Sailboats, just like any other photographic subject have ideal angles to shoot from, composition theory non-withstanding. Here's a foolproof graphic we've come up with to help you know where to position your boat. 

1-Bow On 2-Windward Across 3-three quarter

  • wide-angle shots for capturing tactical scenarios, crossings, and finishes. 
  • close-ups for smiles, gestures, and recording body positioning, sail handling, and tiller technique
  • 3/4 view for capturing leech shape, hiking technique, lateral trim.
  • Windward Across view for capturing fore-and-aft trim.
  • Bow On view for capturing sail shape and sailor's field of view
  • Drones for starting line shots, outside perspective on crossings. Remember, drones are not magical machines than can capture everything you want to film. Use them wisely.

What's The Plan? 

Remember in Part 1 where we talked about having a Plan? Carry over that plan to the water - what will your group be working on that day? This will help you organize yourself in realspace as to what you will be recording. If you are working on downwind tactics and boat handling, run the same drill a couple of times and take footage every repetition from a new angle, or break out the drone for the last run. 

This leads into how to position yourself for best recording angles and positions in the training area

Don't Make Yourself A Rule 19 Scenario

Pretty straightforward - stay out of the sailor's way! Anticipate their tracks upwind and downwind and stay out of their way. If your group is advanced, you can get pretty close to them but always stay out of overlap - you will have a sailor tack or gybe suddenly and then you're scrambling to reverse and in the while ruined your shot! Keep to the idea that "You Should Be Heard, Not Seen" when taking video.

Keep It Smooth

Nowadays with In-Body-Image-Stabilization cameras are more forgiving than ever, and phones are amazingly good at stabilizing shaky footage (looking at you, iPhone 11 Pro!) but camera movement should be as fluid as possible as to make the end result palatable for the viewer. We're not trying to make Hollywood movies here, but if all your sailors end up seeing is jumpy footage and blurry shots of them sailing you will lose their attention! Here's an example of good and bad video footage

DJI Osmo Pocket 2 with phone mount
DJI Osmo Mobile 3
A word on gimbals: We like working with gimbals as much as the next coach - it really makes for smooth footage and some models come with intelligent subject tracking. However we urge you to remember the First And Only Reality Of Sailing: You Will Get Wet. The more gear you have to depend on, the more expensive it will be when it fails/falls/drops into the water. If you would like to start working with gimbals, look no further than the DJI Osmo Pocket or DJI Osmo Mobile 3. Both are fantastic, and the mobile version is quite a lot more compact than previous iterations. As of April 2020, neither of these are 100% water resistant. Use at your wallet's risk. 

Don't Forget You Are Still Driving A Powerboat Around Kids

We have seen many coaches be careless with their wake, and forget the basic rules of power boating. (Again, Wear Your Safety Lanyard). This is always troubling to see because we as coaches can not forget that the sailor's safety is our number one priority. Therefore, we suggest following 3 simple rules of thumb:

You can get in the fleet, but match your speed to theirs!

  1. Be Responsible For Your Wake
  2. Always Know Where Your Bow Is
  3. Avoid Reversing As Much As Possible 
These are simple ideas that will keep you from causing a totally-avoidable accident. If you must pass a sailor closer than 50 feet, keep your wake to a minimum or non-existent. Paying attention to your bow means you know how your boat is moving with the wind and current and avoiding smacking Optis that may be near you. And lastly, avoiding having to reverse saves you wearing your gear box prematurely and keeps you in control. And your boat drier.

Final Thoughts

We've covered a lot of ground but we think with these tips you'll be delivering quality video debriefs to your kids in no time. Check out Part 3 where we show you how to tile your photos and put together an edit that will wow the kids and parents. 


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