The Ultimate Guide to Filming Airsoft Gameplay

By Editor, Aug 6, 2014 | |
  1. Editor
    As a professional videographer, I've been asked several times to record gameplay and other airsoft-related events. But let's face it, we're not all professionals and we don't all own $3000 video cameras. Truth is, you can get away with a lot less! I'll be providing tips for both newbies who want to start recording as well as those who are already used to filming gameplay but want to step up their videos.

    [Note: Prices may have changed since the last time I bought them. All the equipment below are ones I've personally used. I don't ever recommend gear I haven't had experience with unless I know for sure it's good.]

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    Get Your Camera!

    Let's start with the camera. You've spent hundreds, if not thousands, already on airsoft gear. You don't really have to spend much more on a good camera. Here are a few really good POV action cameras that I've had experience with, starting with my favorite on top:

    There are many different versions of the GoPro and Sony Action Cam POV cameras. For example, the GoPro HERO 3 comes in a white edition (cheaper) and a black edition (higher quality). Also, the Sony Action Cam released a newer version of their Action Cam series, the HDR-AS100V. It all boils down to your balance between price and quality. And why a POV camera? Why not a regular camcorder or a DSLR? POV cameras are small, cheap, versatile, mobile, and offer much better protection due to its intended use in sports activities.

    Mount It!

    You've got both your hands on your gun so you're going to want a way to film hands-free. But where do I mount the camera? On the gun or on my helmet? Facing me or facing forward? On the Picatinny rail or on the scope? There are tons of mounting options for your cameras, but again it all boils down to how you want your video to turn out. Play around until you get the best result!

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    If you want an FPS-style video, you'd want to stick to helmet mounts. That way, whatever YOU see is what the audience sees. GoPro cameras mount on the top of your helmet while the Action Cam and Contour mount on the side due to it's long shape.

    Scope mounts are another excellent way to give your viewers a first-person experience. Famous with snipers, scope mounts allow the audience to "look" through the scope! One of my favorite is the Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount.

    Maybe you want to film several angles. Maybe you want to switch every so often from helmet view to gun view. Strikemark makes excellent camera mounts to attach to your rail system. Remember, when filming multiple angles, further editing is required to make sure the footage is in sync. I'll explain in a bit.

    Start Filming!

    Camera? Check. Mounting hardware? Check. Safety? Off. Now it's time to film. Make sure your camera settings are correct before hitting record! I prefer the highest quality possible (1080p HD) but others often prefer lower quality videos to preserve battery life and memory. Remember, the higher the video quality the bigger the file size.

    Don't forget to hit the record button! I can't count the number of times people forget to hit record. They come back after a great gameplay only to realize they never recorded any of it! And don't forget your other cameras if you're filming multi-camera. And make sure your cameras are fully charged and you have ample space on your memory card. You don't want to have your video cut off in the middle of the game due to low battery or running out of space! GoPro sells the BacPac, an extra battery you can mount to your GoPro HERO camera to provide extra battery power, doubling the shooting time.

    If your camera has a protective "shell" over the camera, such as the GoPro and Sony Action Cam, you may have difficulty getting clear audio due to the fact that the mic is completely covered for protection. Luckily, they sell many cases/adapters that allow for better audio by allowing sound to pass through the case, like this one for the Action Cam.

    Turn on image stabilization! Shaky footage is bad footage, and a few action cameras have built-in image stabilization, such as the Sony Action Cam. Of course, you can always edit your footage in post to correct any shaky movement, but it's good to get everything right in-camera.

    Done filming? Great! Let's take that awesome gameplay and start editing!

    Edit Your Video!

    Yes, you can always just upload the footage straight out of your camera, but that's boring. If you really want to capture your audience, you want to show parts of the video that are action-packed, keeping your viewers interested and away from clicking on other videos. Edit out the parts where you're waiting for an enemy for 45 minutes. Embarrassing moments? You might want to edit that out, too. Focus on your best kills, your favorite moments, as these are what make a great video. Of course, sometimes you want to show those embarrassing moments, and sometimes you want to show them all the fails and mistakes. It's up to you how you want your video to turn out!

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    For those of you who are filming multi-camera, you're going to want to make sure everything is in-sync. Place each video on a separate track. Align the two (or three, depending on how many cameras you used) videos and check to see that the audio is matching up. If your video software supports muting a video track, mute all but one and use it as the main audio track for the whole video. It's easier to work with one audio track than three, and really, one is all you need. This can get a little lengthy to explain, so watch this video:

    While this tutorial is specifically for Adobe Premiere Pro, the same concept is used in other video software.

    Speaking of video software, let me recommend a few. Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X are two of my favorites, but there are others for those who are on a budget, or don't sport a fast enough computer.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of Windows Movie Maker but it's there and it's free. It gives you the basic editing tools and provides many exporting options. My next favorite is the VSDC Free Video Editor, which, unlike Movie Maker, is a non-linear video editor, giving you more flexibility and allowing you to place videos anywhere on the timeline, great for multi-camera shots!

    Have a Mac? iMovie is another great video editor! iMovie should come bundled with your new Mac, but you can get your hands on one for $15.

    Remember, video editing takes time and patience. Don't rush through an editing process. Make sure you have everything correct before uploading to YouTube. The last thing you want is to watch your video online and think, "Man, I should've edited that out."

    Make your gameplay interesting and add a cool intro! Mention your team name! If your video is sponsored, make sure you mention them in the beginning. Gameplay videos are an excellent marketing tool and airsoft companies and organizations know that!

    Now that you have your video perfected, it's time to finalize it for uploading! MPEG-4, or MP4, is a great format that balances video quality and file size. Sure, you can export in ProRes 4444 but exporting and uploading 13GB of video can be a problem, unless you're willing to wait a while. This is why editing out unnecessary clips is important. Shaving off a few minutes of video can help greatly with reducing file size, making it quicker to export and upload!

    Other Tips:

    1. Pay attention to the recording light on your camera. If it's off, your camera is most likely not recording.

    2. Respect people's privacy. Not everyone wants to be on camera, and while you can't control who's in the frame, you will often run into people who try to avoid the camera. Respect them and don't come chasing them pointing your camera at their faces.

    3. Keep your camera in its protective housing. It's an airsoft game, and BBs are flying at you and your equipment.

    4. When mounting your camera, make sure it's secure. You don't want to lose your camera!

    5. When you're done filming, make sure your camera is kept safe along with your other equipment.

    6. Write your name or contact info on a slip of paper and insert it in the protective housing in case your camera gets lost.

    7. When recording the highest quality possible, make sure you get a high-speed SD card. Class 10 is recommended for higher-bit-rate videos.

    8. Editing videos, especially in high-definition, require a fast graphics card and processor. If your computer is older, you might want to record at a lower quality.

    9. Copyright laws are very strict. Make sure all content belongs to you. Even background music can get the attention of YouTube, matching you to third-party content. This includes logos, branding, music, and more.

    10. When using background music, try to balance the audio so that it doesn't drown out the gameplay. Dubstep is cool, but when you can't hear your teammates it can be a problem.

    A lot of this is basic common sense, but I hope you find this information to be helpful. If you guys have any questions regarding video equipment, filming, exporting, or editing, shoot me a message! (AlphaZer0)

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