Recently we've discussed several how-to's about HD video and action cams. However, one of the easiest ways to make your action cam HD video look professional is to set it up correctly utilizing the right background. "So I need to bring a green screen with me when I take video?" No. Use the natural terrain, real life, the world in which you are trying to record, to share with the rest of the world. It just takes a little setup before shooting your HD video.
1. Use the weather:
Whether it be sun or storm, you can use the natural weather and natural light to add highlights to your shot. As an example, the photo above shows a bike rider jumping off a dirt mound, but it shows the white fog in the background which really pops the image of the rider. Since the white background is void of any colors to take away from the object of the video, it is used as a sort of natural backdrop to really focus the viewers' attention on the rider. The opposite of this would be to take video directly facing into the sun. With the brightness of the natural light of the sun, and the prism of colors most action cams provide when looking toward the sun, the object of the video is lost completely and flashes of natural light and color are all you will see. Also, with a well lit background, the object will appear significantly darker and will lose detail. So adjust your angle of view to utilize natural light to keep the object of the shot fully lit with ambient light to separate the object from the background.
I'm never happy with my bike action cam videos because the straight-down trail I bomb down looks like a walk in the park when seeing it on video. However, if you set your action cam in the right place, or have a friend shoot HD video while you provide the action, you can get a good aspect as to how steep the environment actually is. For example, in this shot the action cam is mounted on a helmet swivel mount. While descending, the cam is shooting toward the object and utilizes the mountains in the background, along with the foreground, to give the perspective of how steep the mountain truly is. Setting an action cam on a level spot on the ground, log, rock, or tree can give you the perspective you are looking for with your HD video.
Don't be a victim of an unsuspecting photobomb, especially from an inanimate object! While shooting HD video, practice movements of the camera so you have a good idea of what the background will include. As shown in the example, while filming his buddies kayaking, the videographer panned and caught the face of the paddle during one of the best parts of the shot. In this instance, he should have practiced from different angles and prepared to take the video from the best angle and with the least amount of interference. If you are shooting HD video in a metropolitan area, do the same thing, but look for trash cans, signs, natural features and people you might not want in your shot. Adjust the angle or move the feature so you can record the shot you want.
When you have the great idea to mount your action cam on some unique place, go ahead and try it, but do a practice run before you actually try to take your full HD video. In this instance, the biker takes some good shots of his legs and his bike, but the majority of the trail and background are lost in the frenzy of flaying legs and a bike frame taking up most of the viewable image. Set the camera in an unobstructed place, unless you are TRYING to watch your shorts flap around while descending a truly beautiful trail. There are plenty of mounts available to keep this from happening, use them.
Though you are just using an action cam, you are truly an artist. Think like an artist when trying to shoot your action cam video. Look at the natural light, the background, the environmental aspects, and you will shoot high quality video. The more you practice, the better you will be and your videos will be pleasing to watch. A little time and effort pays of in dividends in the long run, so take some time, enjoy the opportunity and have fun.
Brian Teal is a tech guru, an amateur videographer and participates in various extreme sports.