Jump To Section
Tony Hawk’s 14 Tips for Filming and Editing Skate Videos
Got a revolutionary trick up your sleeve that the world needs to see? Just grab your phone, film it, post it on YouTube and Instagram, and share it to skate sites and blogs. Of course, the more attention you pay to filming and editing, the better your skate video will look and the more likely it will be to impress. Use these 14 tips to make your skateboarding video as impactful as it can be.
- Set your phone up on a tripod. If you’re filming yourself, you will need to position your phone in advance. Leaning it against something or wedging it in between objects won’t necessarily secure it, and your phone may slide or fall over, blowing your shot. A sturdy, adjustable tripod will allow you to get the shot you set out to get.
- Mark spots for tricks. When filming yourself with a static phone, you need to know exactly where to execute your trick so that it’s framed properly. Use tape or chalk markings so you can see where your frame is and where you should start your move.
- Get a friend to film you. While it’s possible to film yourself, having someone else film you opens up more possibilities (a friend could skate alongside you to capture grinds or a series of tricks more dynamically). Ask a friend to help you out—just make sure that they know what you want out of your shots.
- Scout locations in advance. Don’t waste time wandering around on your shoot day trying to find challenging obstacles or cool backgrounds. Take time beforehand to locate the right spots for you, thinking critically about the shots you want and how to frame them. Whenever possible, use skater-friendly locations like skate parks. The last thing you need when trying to film a sick trick is to get booted, fined, or arrested for trespassing or property damage.
- Frame your shots carefully. Always make sure you are completely in the frame. Tricks inspire far less awe when a pair of disembodied legs performs them. Being fully in frame lets viewers appreciate your range of motion, athleticism, and the risks you take.
- Variety, variety, variety. A skate video with just one location, just one angle, just one lens, and nothing but tricks is a boring one. Add some spice to your video by mixing things up. Shoot at different locations at different times of day. Try different kinds of tricks from a number of angles, using close-ups, cutaways, and long shots to keep viewers’ eyes stimulated. To that same end, experiment with the many lens attachments available for phones. A fast lens can blur your background, a wide lens works well for compact tricks in small places, and a fish-eye lens will make stairs and rails appear bigger and taller, providing a trippy quality to big tricks while keeping both you and your obstacle in frame. Show your failures as well as your successes. You can also switch things up by filming your crew joking around, comparing injuries, and more, giving viewers a sense of your personalities as well as a respite from tricks on tricks on tricks.
- Always keep the camera rolling. If you constantly stop and start while recording, you may miss out on once-in-a-lifetime action that you’ll never be able to re-create. Much of what you shoot will hit the cutting room floor, but you may also find unexpected moments of brilliance in B-roll footage.
- Save the editing for later. While you’re filming, focus on capturing as much cool footage as possible. You can worry about postproduction after you’ve squeezed everything you can out of the day.
- Find the right video editing software for you. With skate videos, your edit is as important as your skating, so you need software that fits your needs and editing skills. If you have money to spend on professional editing software like Final Cut Pro and VideoStudio Pro, rad; if you don’t, there are free and user-friendly options like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, and Avidemux that will get the job done and produce high-quality videos.
- Tell a story with your edit. The more you can emotionally invest viewers in your video, the bigger impact it will have. A great way to do that is by giving your video a story framework. Have one in mind when you begin editing. Maybe yours is a story of overcoming adversity, failing at a trick over days only to nail it in the end and skate off triumphantly to the hoots of your friends. Perhaps you’re telling the story of your gnarliest slams, or the progression of all the tricks you’ve ever learned. Whatever it is, it will be far more engrossing than a simple capture of a single skateboard trick.
- Play around with speed. In addition to providing much-needed variety, mixing in slow-motion shots can add emphasis to big moments and allow viewers to really digest them.
- Add background music to your edit. The sounds of a skateboard get old quick. Use them sparingly and add life to your footage with music that evokes specific emotions, like filmmakers do with scores and soundtracks. The right song can add drama to a scene or pump up the viewer. Experiment and find something that works best for your video (just make sure it’s legal to use whatever music you choose, otherwise you might run into trouble posting on YouTube or Instagram).
- Adjust your colors and white balance. To avoid your video looking too dark or washed out, modify the colors and contrast during your editing process. It will allow you to get crisp, high-quality images that clearly show the details of your skating.
- Avoid goofy filters and effects. Skate videos should be fun, and you should have fun filming and editing yours, but adding silly filters and effects can make your video look amateur. The more seriously you take the look of your video, the more seriously people will take your video.
Want to Learn More About Skateboarding?
Whether you’re just learning how to ollie or ready to hit the halfpipe and tackle a benihana, the MasterClass Annual Membership can help you find confidence on your board with exclusive instructional videos from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, street skater Riley Hawk, and Olympic hopeful Lizzie Armanto.