Shooting steady video without a tripod

Salvation Army Fire

Salvation Army Fire

A few weeks ago an electrical fire sparked in Monroe’s Salvation Army donation warehouse. The fire was put out quickly, but the smoke damaged everything in the warehouse. I was on scene and interviewed the Salvation Army Lt. who looked stressed beyond belief. Exactly two weeks later, the Salvation Army invited us back for their “Move Back In” day. I couldn’t believe the transformation of the warehouse, it smelled fresh and had a brand new coat of paint on the walls. A handful of volunteers were sorting through brand new donations and as I interviewed the Lt. again he had an aura of relief and gratefulness surrounding him for all of the help the community gave the organization to get back on their feet. Now that you know the back story, let me get to what I want to say. I was doing a live shot for KNOE 8 News at Noon from the Salvation Army, so I had a photog with me. I was also packaging the story for the evening newscasts, but rather than have our photog shoot my video, I told him while he was packing up the live truck, I would shoot my own b-roll. Well, I started off doing some of my signature ground shots, where you set the camera on the ground and suddenly the video reveals an entirely new perspective. When I looked up, I noticed the photographer had grabbed the tripod to put in the live truck. Immediately I thought to go run out there and grab it, but then  thought otherwise.

Live shot from Salvation Army Warehouse

Live shot from Salvation Army Warehouse

I wanted to challenge myself to shoot the entire story without the tripod. I know what you are immediately picturing in your mind, shaky video. But not a lot of young multimedia journalists realize, just because you don’t have a tripod doesn’t mean your video has to look like a slight earthquake is passing through.

Basically I scanned the room and saw several potential makeshift tripods. I placed the camera on a warehouse shelf to film the window, then turned the camera around and pointed it at the other wall, with a box in the foreground. I made use of the tables and bins to hold the camera steady. My favorite shot was when I set the camera on a pile of clothes and a volunteer folded a shirt and placed it right in front of the lens. I’m such a video nerd, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh that was great, thank you so much!” she gave me a bemused look, probably thinking I’m a crazy person.

But the whole shoot was a great reminder to me, that you don’t always need a tripod to shoot steady video. I think I need to challenge myself more often to work without it, to encourage myself to find more creative shots and perspectives. Hey, being a good story-teller isn’t limited to the words we write, it’s also being aware that as a visual medium, we can captivate audiences by aiding our words with compelling video.Here’s my story check it out:

Here is my live shot from that day, that was obviously shot with a tripod:

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