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Features - Making your ultimate paddling video

Getting the 'Money' Shot
Getting the 'Money' Shot

Tom Laws - Posted on 12 Sep 2008

 It’s becoming more and more popular these days to video a good play session, a sea kayak or touring journey or a run down your favourite whitewater section. Once you are back in the living room you want to show the paddling world what you and your friends have been up to.

Boating and Cameras
Rivers are full of water... Cameras don’t like water! The first fundamental is keeping your kit, whatever it is dry. There are a few alternatives available, but the best on the market is undoubtedly the ‘Peli Case’. Available in a vast array of sizes, totally waterproof as long as they are sealed properly, and pretty good at fending off the knocks and bumps of spending time in the back of a kayak or canoe.
    To make a video for the Internet you don’t need the swankiest gear. A 3-chip, state-of-the-art camera is by no means essential, and your average handy-cam will do the job just fine, though the colours might not be as bright.
One thing that will improve your videos no end is a reasonable tripod or monopod; this should help reduce the ‘wobblycam’. If you don’t want to buy one, improvise with something, be it resting the camera on a rock, or getting a small beanbag, like you had at those school sports days!

There is only really one rule for getting footage. Film loads, then film loads more. Chances are you don’t have enough, so go and film some more! Experiment with different camera angles and techniques, panning shots, static shots, shooting from above, below, the side, and everywhere in between. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you might be surprised.  The watchwords to live by are ‘variety’, ‘lots’, ‘lots’ and indeed ‘lots’!

When you get home, and have a bit of time, firstly and most importantly stick the kettle on, plug the camera in and capture the footage you have just shot. This is generally simple and there are a lot of tutorials on the Internet explaining how to do this. On a PC Adobe Premier is the king, and there are whole load of other options available. Windows Movie Maker is basic, but capable of plenty of things to teach you the ropes! The most popular software on a Mac is iMovie, or if you want to take it up a notch and try some more advanced things, Final Cut. Have a root about on the World Wide Web and you will find plenty of useful information and free demos of software.


It’s often best to edit your footage through a TV screen, which is straightforward to set up with most modern TVs. For a video that is destined for the net however, editing through a PC monitor is no problem. Once you’ve got your footage all captured have a watch through and maybe make a few notes on highlights. It can help to have a rough plan (in your head or on paper) of what you want to achieve. Do you want to tell a story, make people laugh, or just plain show off! Once you’ve got a rough plan, slap the clips up on the timeline with some music. Try to pick some music to reflect the paddling; don’t just use Sweatshop Union because everyone else is! Adjust the sound balance in the right places; it’s generally best to mute the background roar of the rapids most of the time.

Put the kettle back on, and make another cup of tea, this can get time consuming. Go through clip by clip and trim off as much of the filler stuff as you can, and try and avoid having the same shot more that once. Go easy on the special effects as much as you can, but give the transitions between clips some love. Not much beats a sharp edit that fits in time with the music. Stick up some credits and graphics, and then watch it through and through. Be a perfectionist, and take the time to get everything just so.

All finished and saved, the next step is to get it online for everyone to see. The most popular are You Tube ( and Google Video ( Unfortunately these are victims of their own success, and use a very high compression setting that won’t do your video justice. Check out Broadband Sports ( and Vimeo ( for a much better compression.


Once you’ve gone through the whole process you want people to see your hard work, Forums such as UK Rivers Guidebook can be good, as can profile sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Be prepared for a barrage of criticism, as everyone’s a critic these days, just try and pick out some of the constructive points, and remember the positives.


Take a bit of time (maybe in your lunch break) to check out other people’s videos, and be inspired and learn from what they have done. You never know, you might be inspiring people yourself!

Kit List

On the Water
Peli Case
Spare batteries
Spare tapes
Lens cloth

PC or Mac
Editing software
Kettle + tea making facilities

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