POV 101: Get Creative

With helmet cams ubiquitous at ski resorts and on trails, everyone is a filmmaker nowadays. But making a good movie takes some practice, planning, and just a pinch of luck.

Mar 4, 2013
Outside Magazine

Everyone I talked to about POV filming said the exact same words: Get creative. Josh Madsen of The Free Heel Life films put it most succinctly: “Try using your camera with different mounts. People are tired of the same old POV shot. Mix it up by thinking of the POV camera as a true camera and get creative with how you shoot with it.”

Us mortals have to use our creativity to make up for our inability to jump 40-foot cliffs, do backflips on motocross bikes, or add a parachute into our regular routine. Luckily, a small, waterproof POV camera makes this only a challenge of imagination. Hula-hooping isn’t known for being a wildly exciting sport, but the video above has over a half a million views on YouTube. Why? Because instead of wearing the camera, or placing it on a tripod, this woman mounted it on her hula hoop and gave us a unique perspective on an everyday activity. (Notice that she didn’t edit out the footage of her turning on the camera, giving us a few seconds to see her face as setup before the start of the action.)

A big part of finding creative camera angles is going to depend on what activity you are doing. Helmet cams on skiers tend to be more shaky than chest mounts, while chest mounts on bikes can lead to distorted Gumby arms. Experiment and find the mount that best conveys your voice and story.

Once you sort out your camera mounts, don’t be afraid to mix things up. Save your POV footage for a few seconds as you come into the jump, reach the top of the mountain, or slide into the wave. Be honest with yourself: If you’re not doing something that is jaw-dropping, you’ll need to place your camera somewhere unique. If you have a unique camera angle, you can often get away with a less-than-unique stunt.

If possible, make sure we see your face. Nothing helps convey an experience like someone’s facial expression. Whether you put the camera on your snowboard tip, at the end of a pole, or on your handle bars, showing us your face will help convey the experience.

Or show us someone else. “Try some shots with a skier skiing over a camera, or one placed in a small jug on the climbing wall, or have a buddy out in the waves as you surf by,” Carroll says. “If you are only filming stuff with the camera on the athlete, you are missing half the story.”

Outside of the action scenes, non-POV angles are great for setting the location and introducing the characters. Make sure when you’re planning out your story that you include some lifestyle shots. These can be taken easily by taking off your helmet and using it with the camera attached like a tripod. Put it on the bar as you relax at the end of the day. Get some footage of the sun rising or setting. Mount it on the dashboard of the car and show us what you look like when you’re not being awesome.

Filed To: Culture, Video, Cameras