You don’t need to be Stephen Spielberg to make cinematic gold. And you certainly don’t need his equipment budget. Sit back, lean in close, and let me tell you a little story about how I made a super impressive sports event video with just my iPhone. More importantly, take note of how to make a sports video for yourself, plus a little magic advice thrown in for free (you’re welcome)!
The goal: the best sports video ever. The tool: a mobile phone. The result: affordable magic in motion:
Rule #1. Don’t jump the gun: Plan your plot
If you’re wondering how to make a sports video, like any athlete before a race, you’ll need to put in some prior preparation. But instead of running laps, I recommend taking some time to sketch out a narrative for your video. You don’t need to account for each and every frame here, but trust me as a sports video maker, even a rough structure will pay off big time. My initial concept for CrossFit Games was simple: to show each and every stage of the workout. Not exactly rocket science, right? I set out to document the whole process – from the countdown to the finish, and all the emotional highs and lows in between. Don’t be scared of using an uncomplicated chronological plot – this can work perfectly for sports video production.
Here’s what I took to the shoot:
Preparation. Countdown. Start. Speed.Challenge.Rest. Resume. Growing challenge. Final minute. Finish. Post-games emotion.Invitation to next stageThis is the whole plot and it shouldn’t be complicated 🙂
It may look obvious, but it really can be this easy. Even very short notes will provide reference points for forming a narrative journey. Do this, and you’re already halfway onto a winner.
Rule #2. It’s not a marathon: Take lots of short videos
Unless you want to make your sporting event look super boring, avoid shooting one long video from the same angle. To add intrigue and movement, it’s so important to chop and change the perspectives and subject matter of your video clips. You want plenty of short, focused videos that you can later stitch together to suit your story.
For the CrossFit Games I ended up with 73 clips ranging between 3 and 26 seconds. Not only that, but each video had a different point of view and purpose. If I wanted to show the countdown, I shot the CrossFit instructor and counter with slowly reducing seconds. If I wanted to capture an atmosphere of struggle, I’d get close-up footage of the participants. Every little clip was informed by my plot, and all stages of the plot were covered by the videos.
Rule #3. Change your range: Include close-ups
If you want your sports video production to go the distance, it’s important to shoot near and far. The best result always comes from a combination of general plans and close-ups. The real beauty is in the contrast between the two perspectives and the details you can capture when you follow this rule.
If you use a professional camera, it’s better to zoom in because people may not like you getting too close! However, smartphones often don’t have the same capabilities, meaning if you’re using one you will have to get a little closer….Sometimes closer than you might find normal. All in the name of an exceptional end product, right?
Rule #4. Getting people on side: Capture emotion
You want your viewers to feel involved with your video and the event itself, you have to ramp up the emotional content. This is the real Holy Grail for any videographer. People love to see emotions and moreover, it makes them feel like they were actually there.
Any sports event is full of emotion, and the CrossFit Games is no exception. It’s all about stamina, strength, spirit, and pushing yourself to the limit. The devil is in the detail, and I was primarily focused on catching those all-important facial expressions, telling sound bites, and any moments pivotal to the plot.
Keep your eye out for those key emotional moments.
Rule #5. Team morale: Find a positive angle
You want a positive reaction to your video, so your shots don’t just need to fulfil your narrative, they need to put a smile on people’s faces. This is that extra dose of cinematic magic I was talking about before. Sports events are not just about fitness and competition – they’re about feeling part of a wider community and the shared joy and humour this brings.
It’s not so difficult – you just need to look around. At the CrossFit Games I managed to find this adorable young lady, whose short cameo in the video really makes the whole thing more attractive, engaging, and effective.
Rule #6. Mr Motivator: Call to Action
producing this video for a reason, so it should motivate your viewers in some
way, rather than simply telling a story. Do you want to inspire people to
attend the next event or to join a sports club? You may even want to promote
your own services as a sports video maker, or just congratulate the winners.
Make it known with a relevant call to action.
My call to action for this video was an invitation to the next round of CrossFit Games. To make sure people were paying close attention to this part of the video, I asked the most handsome instructor from CrossFit Wandsworth to deliver my CTA. I’m sure you can agree he did a great job!
Rule #7. Play by the rules: Don’t forget the legalities
If you are going to use your video for commercial purposes to publish on your website or social media platforms, this one’s for you. Although it might not be the most interesting part of video production, you must pay attention to legal rights.
Legislation is different from country to country and case to case, but in general I advise you to ask people if they mind being in your video. Be sure to mention what the video is for and where it will be posted. Don’t forget to capture any participants’ permission on your phone and store this in case you need it at any point.
Rule #8. Quick off the mark: Fast and professional results
When producing a sports event video, it’s vital to turn your project around quickly and with a high-quality finish. The longer you take, the more momentum you lose, which may lead to a lost opportunity to express what happened at the event. If you decide to do the production on your own, I’d strongly recommend reading making a video for social media: 8 rules to follow to help you maximise results and minimise efforts.
In my case for this video, it was actually pretty easy. I sent the footage to my colleagues at agenda.video, described the concept along with some first-hand insights on the CrossFit Games and where they can learn more. I quickly received the first draft and after a few corrections, I walked away with the final video – all within just 24 hours of the original footage submission! The cost of this service? Only £49.
Rule #9. Go for gold: Unlocking your video’s full potential
So you’ve gone through all the steps towards making an impactful and engaging sports video. Now it’s up to you to ensure that your video reaches the maximum number of people. We’re almost at the finish line!
As soon as you have a final version of your video, it’s time to use all of your organic marketing channels to spread the word. Publish it on social media, and send to all participants either with email, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. As a rule of thumb, the scale of efforts for promotion and distribution should be at least equal to those spent producing the video.
Top tip: If you are going to distribute your video on a wider scale and make this key marketing tool of your business, I would strongly recommend you to read up on7 ways to use video to drive your business.
Sport is all about movement, emotions, and speed. No any static picture can truly express it. Video is the best way to show all of this. Don’t miss the chance to tell the world about your great event.”agenda.video