As a dedicated chairsofter, I enjoy scouring YouTube for good quality airsoft content. There used to be lots of it. But now it’s getting harder to find. The reason? The scourge of the first-person GoPro camera movie.
Once, the camera-person was on the field for only one reason: to capture the action. Now every player can be their own director, camera operator and star all rolled into one. The result? Endless hours of nausea-inducing not-very-steady-cam footage, usually blurred, featuring only the part of the battle the film-maker is actually involved in.
Let’s get to the good bit
So what makes for good airsoft combat camera reportage? For what they’re worth, here are my personal observations.
- Get close to the action. As the famous war photographer Robert Capa once said, ‘If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough’. Shortly after he said this, he trod on a landmine in French Indochina and was transported to the great picture editor’s office in the sky. At least he died practising what he preached.
Edit out the boring stuff. Alfred Hitchcock put it best. ‘I make movies about real life. The difference is, it’s real life with the boring bits taken out’. Airsoft, for all its spine-tingling moments of action, has a lot of boring bits in it. Wandering around the woods looking for the enemy. Choosing a defensive position. Winding hi-caps while waiting for the whistle to blow. On the field, you might feel the tension. Watching it at home, others won’t.
- Tell a story. I don’t mean a narrative to rival War And Peace. I mean giving the viewer a taste of the sequence of events. Here are the defenders in their base. Here are the attackers moving in. Here are a few exciting one-on-one duels. Here are the defeated defenders retreating to the safe zone. Keep the cuts short. Two seconds is a long time on screen. Just look at any action movie.
- Only share your best work. In my youth, ‘content’ used to mean the good stuff inside the stuff. Now it just means the stuff. You may find an hour’s headcam footage of your day in the woods fascinating, or maybe even useful for improving your game. But will others? Be tough on yourself, and others will thank you for it.
All this is fine for me to say. I do use a camera as part of my day job, but I don’t take it onto the field. Who am I to judge? So I thought it was only fair that I use the editing software on my Mac to make a mash-up of the kind of airsoft movie I’d like to see, applying the principles above. I apologise in advance if I’ve ripped off your footage. Get in touch and I’ll take it down. I also apologise for the cheesy sound effects, with the occasional four-letter word slipped in (parental advisory). I kind of got carried away.