If you are heading off to a theme park, it has probably crossed your mind to make some videos while you are on the rides, so that others can experience the same thrills you did. Unfortunately, most roller coaster videos end up shaky and blurry. Don’t believe me? Do a search on YouTube and see how many of the theme park ride videos you actually want to watch from start to finish.
We live in an era where technology is so advanced that for $100 you can buy a good quality, HD handheld digital video camera that you can take anywhere (some are even waterproof and others double-up as a video and stills camera). Not long ago you would have had to carry a much larger, poorer quality video camera with you.
How do you use this technology to your advantage and take great roller coaster videos?
First of all, my caveat: I am not encouraging you to break the theme park’s rules. If the theme park specifically bans cameras from rides then you should heed their warnings. The rules are not there to ruin your fun; they are designed for your safety. Taking cameras on theme park rides could result in you or others getting hurt, and even cause damage to the ride itself.
That said, if the theme park does not restrict the use of cameras, here are some tips for taking better videos on roller coasters:
- Always make sure your camera is secure. Holding your video camera in your hand is not enough to ensure its safety. Theme park rides are designed to move very fast and surprise you with twists and turns. If your video camera is not securely attached to your wrist or clothing then you run the risk of dropping it or knocking it against something, both of which will probably break the camera and potentially harm you or others. A great roller coaster video is no good if it is never seen because your camera fell to the ground from 100 feet. You can also consider strapping it right to your head using one of the cool new Go Pro Hero HD 2 wearable cameras.
- Make sure your camera is held steady. This can be impossible to ensure when you are moving at 80mph through loops, twists and corkscrews, but the steadier you hold your camera the better the quality will be and the easier it will be to watch (nobody likes to view shaky videos). Try to hold your camera in both hands with your elbows held tight into your sides. Holding your arms outstretched will cause more shake and less control over what you are filming.
- Decide whether you are taking a point-of-view (POV) video or a video of the people on the ride. Often people swap between the different options and as a result there is a lot of shakiness and blur on the video as the camera changes position and re-focuses. My preference with roller coaster videos is to take it from the point of view of the rider. Videoing the faces of your friends can be fun for you, but if you want others to feel some of the thrill of the ride that you felt, you should show them the ride from your perspective.
- To take a great POV video, aim to sit at the front of the ride. This way you will capture the ride itself, and a great view of the tracks and all the upcoming dips, twists and turns, without having to film the backs of people’s heads at the same time. It will also mean you can hold you camera lower and steadier.
- Start recording your video before the ride starts and don’t press stop until the ride has finished. This will enable you to edit the start and end of the video (the parts that are usually the shakiest) and still have the full ride captured.
- Watch some of the many theme park videos that are uploaded to the Internet everyday and decide what it is you like about your favourites. Then emulate them
A trip to a theme park is a fun experience and you can share it with others through video. Follow the tips shared here and you will be able to produce roller coaster videos that capture some of the thrills and excitement you enjoyed.