How To Create A Great Boat Video

By Carol Newman Cronin

These 10 tips will work to help you capture memories and share your love of boating with others.

Taking video off the stern of a powerboat

Do you remember your fifth (or 15th, or 50th) boating adventure of last summer? I don't remember mine either. If only I'd captured them on video. I could replay the scene to bring it all back, and relive all those boating moments, preferably in slow-mo. I know, I know, video cameras can be slightly annoying companions in real time, even though they're very useful tools in the right hands. But they make it easy to share an experience or relive our memories long after the season ends or the kids grow up. Plus, we can edit the footage afterward, making a moment more special or exciting than in real time.

Video is also a great sales tool, as it allows us to take potential buyers on a virtual tour. Keep in mind, though, that the best footage to sell your boat will most likely be quite different from what your family finds entertaining, so it's important to know what you're trying to capture before you start filming. Is it "Buy this boat" or "Wasn't that a great day?" or something completely different? Regardless of your video's intended message, following some basic rules will help you capture footage others will appreciate. Here are 10 tips to help you create a video that viewers will watch all the way through.

Stablizing video camera using exercise ballUsing an exercise ball to stabilize your shot will help eliminate the shaking and vibrations from the boat.

Minimize the motion.

Even the gentle bobbing and rocking that we barely notice (while tied to a dock, or on a calm lake) will be very disturbing when watched on screen. Use your legs as shock absorbers, and take short clips. Beware of bracing yourself on something like a bimini frame that may transfer engine vibrations to the camera.

Keep the horizon straight.

Yes, artsy videographers may be able to get away with using an odd angle here and there. But basic videos should aim for a stable, easily understood reference point.

Capture a different perspective.

On a heeling sailboat, crouch to leeward for an up-close look at the water rushing by. On a center-console, film the wake or fix a camera to the T-top for a bird's-eye view. And always remember the cameraman's version of the boater's adage: One hand for yourself, one hand for the boat, or in this case, the gear.

Keep your lens dry and clean.

Even a small drop or two of spray is a big distraction to the viewer.

Film less, edit more.

It's easy to capture the same scene over and over again ("Here we are, heading out of the harbor on a beautiful day"), which will make dull watching afterward. If a clip doesn't add something new to the video, leave it out.

Edit out the shaky stuff.

Even if it's your most action-packed moment, we shouldn't need seasickness pills to watch.

Take out the boring parts and the mistakes.

Most clips can be shortened to show only the "good" stuff; there's no need to "set the scene." And random bilge views or that blurry finger blocking half the lens will only distract the viewer.

Minimize the talking heads.

Unless you have a professional spokesperson aboard, don't expect to get something memorable if you stick a camera in someone's face.

Keep graphics simple and clean.

Stick with basic transitions. If you add any text, make sure it's legible and short enough to read in a second or two.

Leave 'em wanting more.

A well-edited short clip will be more memorable than an extended panoramic shot.

Bonus Tip:

Consider a waterproof housing to protect your equipment. 

Carol is an author, editor, and Olympian who specializes in stories about boats — both fact and fiction.

— Published: June/July 2016

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