The Complete Guide To Filming Airsoft
An Action Camera on the Airsoft field is almost as common as Multicam these days. Whether guys are filming for their own personal benefit, sharing fun moments among friends or trying to be the next Novritsch.
It seems every other guy has a camera attached to them.
I’m going to see if I can give you some tips, advice and some of my secrets that I’ve picked up over the last 5 years I’ve been making airsoft videos to make your game day footage better, and run you through the different cameras and techniques I use for my passion of filming my Airsoft gameplay.
First of all, let’s talk computers. You will need a computer with a video editing program if you want to make interesting gameplay videos.
Whatever platform you chose, you can find free software out there to use.
For a great entry into video editing, Windows machines have Windows Movie Maker and Apple machines have iMovie. These are both great to learn your way in editing.
The top end of the spectrum is Adobe Premiere which is available for Windows and Apple machines and Final Cut Pro X which is available for Apple machines only.
Be warned, Video editing can use a lot of resources on you computer system. Older or low spec computers may well struggle with editing HD video.
Personally at the moment, I’m using an i7 Macbook Pro with Final Cut Pro X. It makes editing my normal HD videos simple and headache free, although now I’m starting to use more UHD files in the way of 360 footage it is starting to show its weaknesses.
Your First Camera
When most people, including myself purchase their first camera, 9 times out of 10, it’s a head cam. Personally, if I done it all again, and could only afford 1 camera to start with, it’d be a ready made scope cam or bulding my own scope cam. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch a 5 minute video of cool killcam shots, than I would a single camera, wide angle first person view of somebody shooting targets that we the viewer cant even see.
For a ready made scope camera, Runcam make the Scopecam lite. Which I havent actually tried myself, but I have it’s predecessor, The Scopecam which shares the same internals. The scopecam comes out of the box ready to pop in a memory card and start recording.
You can always take the other option if you are feeling up to it and build your own. You’ll have to source your camera and lens separately and install and focus the lens yourself.
For lens choices you will need a CCTV style lens with an M12 thread.
Choose a lens which will suit the range you normally engage targets at. For 10 to 25 meters I’d recommend a 16mm lens. For 20 to 50m a 25mm for 35 to 80m a 35mm, for 40 to 100 a 40mm.
At the moment, my favourite camera for outdoor play is a GitupF1 with a 35mm F2.5 lens.
This gitupf1 allows me to film in 2.5k 60 fps for excellent BB tracking with a crisp picture. The reliability on the GitupF1 has been second to none in the 6 months Ive been using it.
The case I’m using for it is a custom made case, by the man Cleanshot himself.
Adding another camera
So you’re ready to buy yourself a 2nd camera. Now it’s time to get yourself a that headcam. So what’s it going to be?
You’ve all seen that guy on the facebook group say “Gopros are over priced, My camera I got from ebay for 20 quid does just as good a job as a Gopro.”
Well, I don’t agree with him. Gopros are popular for a reason.
At the end of the day. The headcam you purchase will always be down to your budget. But remember, with action cameras, you get what you pay for. If you expect other people to want to watch you creations. you are going to need to be recording in half decent quality.
If you want the best headcam with the best quality possible, you won’t go far wrong with the latest top end Gopro.
Not everybody will want or need a selfie cam. But it’ll give you another angle to cut too, and capture anything interesting you do or that happens behind you.
Picking a selfie cam is going to be a personal choice and will depend on the rifle you are using. Like do you want to rail mount it or clamp mount it?
How low profile do you want it? How are you going to supply power it?
For the last few months, I’ve been using the GoPro Max 360 Camera as a selfie cam. It’s a fairly heavy duty camera that that take a few knock and I use these sacrificial bubbles to protect the lens.
360 footage is next level. It covers every angle, so no action is missed.
The only downside is, you need a bloody super computer to deal with a days worth of footage. My MacBook i7 with 16gb of ram takes around 24 hours to process a days worth of files ready for me to edit in final cut pro.
But the end results are fantastic, giving the ability to track, pan, zoom in narrow or super wide angle shots. This will give your footage an extra edge.
Is there anywhere else we can carry a camera?
Some guys like Silo entertainment and Bad Influence Airsoft run shoulder cams consisting of modified Runcams and Mobius cameras on their shoulders, giving a 3rd person perspective.
Others like myself and Kicking mustang sometimes opt for an over the should 360 camera. It gives a unique angle, one of my favourites.
I achieve this angle with the Insta360 One X in a cutom case and Back Bar Combo, but I don’t use it that often as I find it can restricts my movement, bangs on walls and gets caught up in bushes and trees.
Lets take you through the settings I currently use on my cameras then. First the Gopro 7 Black Headcam.
Lets talk resolutions and FPS. Primarily I use 1440p at 30fps. I find this resolution gives me the best compromise between quality and reliability and allows me to film for a whole day with no issues of overheating and not having to change out a memory for 10 hours of non stop filming.
If I’m only recording a short game I’ll use 4k 4:3. As Gopro don’t recommend running 4k for any lengthy periods, due to possible overheating issues, which with cease recording.
Are you wondering why I’m using 4:3 ratios? Well we’ll come to that later.
You may have seen my super slow motion videos. They are filmed at 1080p 240fps. The lighting conditions have to be spot on to use this resolution and fps combo. So no woodland or indoors games.
If you use a Gopro, turn on Protune. The Gopro will film at a higher bitrate and give better quality. The Protune settings may look scary, but they’re really not. Here are mine.
For Scopecam. 60fps or more. It’ll give you better BB tracking.
Turn Metering to Center Metering, this evaluates the light in the middle of the frame and its surroundings to adjust the exposure.
Turn off any image stabilisation features your Scopecam has. For a start it’ll crop the image unnecessarily, and because the Scopecam is all over the place, pointing at the ground and sky, it’s way too much for the inbuilt stabilisation to handle anyway. The shots will look all over the place instead of seeing the bb fly straight down the middle of the frame.
Memory cards, Go for reputable brands such as Lexar, Samsung and Sandisk. Be careful with buying eBay, there are fakes around. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Buy one with the fastest write speed you can afford. Faster write speeds will be needed for high definition recordings.
Record in 4:3 Ratio. I alway export to Youtube in 16:9 Ratio but I primarily record in 1440p, this is 1920×1440 pixels, and a 4:3 ratio. Here’s why…
Recording in a 16:9 ratio is quite a narrow field of view. With a 4:3 ratio exported to 16:9 it allows me to pick whether I want to use the top, bottom or anywhere in between part of the frame. This allows more versatility, we’ve all been there when you get home for a days Airsoft, you check your footage only to see that it’s pointing at the ground or trees too much. Recording in a 4:3 ratio give you more leeway to correct your shot in editing, or maybe something interesting happened above or bellow the frame that shooting in normal 1080p wouldn’t capture.
Scope Overlays, if you have a little Photoshop knowledge it’s fairly straight forward to make your own scope overlay.
If you own a camera that uses a sealed waterproof case. The sound is going to be pretty poor and sound like you’ve been filming underwater. Get your drill out put a hole in the case where the mic on the camera is. You won’t be able to go scuba diving with your camera anymore, but you’ll have far superior sound quality
An action camera’s battery will last 75 minutes at best, so powerbanks are our best friends to keep the cameras rolling. When it comes to choosing one, I want something compact but powerful. Here are some I’m using at the moment.
Anker Astro E1, it’s 6700 Mah and extremely compact for it’s capacity. It fits nicely in a counter weight pouch on my helmet setup and with velcro attach sticks to the back of my head on my sniper loadout. These will easily power a Gopro for a whole day of filming.
Anker Powercore Minis. I use these small powerbanks in picatinny 30mm torch mounts. They are very versatile, but only give around 3 to 4 hours power to your camera. So be prepared to change them halfway through the day.
Get your setup as low profile as possible. Run cables inside rails, and disguise or install powerbanks into stocks if possible. Nothing looks more ugly than a usb cable flapping about over your rifle or a giant Powerbank duct taped to your gun. If your camera allows it, turn off any LEDs that may give your position away or show in frame. Use bolts instead of thumb screws. These avoid snagging and generaly just look slicker.
Tell a story with a voice over. If you can, try and give your videos some context. A story with a beginning, middle and ending will keep your viewers interested and watching for longer, therefore making the Youtube algorithm love you more. Dont worry if you don’t have a mic. Use your mobile device’s head phones, it’s better than nothing.
Spend time on your title and thumbnail. I still find these 2 things one of the hardest thing to produce for my videos. Theses 2 things are extremely important. It’s what is going to make a potential viewer click your video, and make your video stand out from the rest on the page. Saying that, a good title and thumbnail is nothing without an interesting video.
Stand out from the crowd. With so many Airsoft videos on Youtube these days you have to make yours better than everybody else’s. Go that extra mile to make it better.
Make Airsoft videos for yourself, make them because you enjoy making them. Not because you want to be rich and not because you want to be famous. If those are your primary reasons for making Airsoft videos for Youtube, you will be very disappointed. It’s a grind and it can be very unrewarding when you start out.
I hope you got some insight into what goes in to making Airsoft videos, and hopefully you’ve picked up some tips along the way.
Stay Safe and I’ll see you on the field soon.