If you want to improve how you film your travels with your dog or you're just getting started, here’s a few tips to help capture the adventure.
In parts of Guatemala, the rainy season brings several months of nearly uninterrupted showers and rainstorms. So, like those of you who experience cold winters, during those long, dark, wet weekends, we huddle by the fire and plan for all the epic adventures we’ll have once the good weather returns.
Figuring out how to film our outings with Moxie is an essential part of our trip planning to capture the fun for Ruff on the Road’s Kibble for the Soul and on 2 Wheels + 4 Paws video series. So, since we’re all hunkered down, trying to keep our paws and sniffers clean, we thought we’d share a few filming ideas to help you prepare for all your post-coronapocolypse adventures.
Holding your phone or camera up for a selfie works great for sharing a few profound thoughts while you take a break on the trail. But when it comes to capturing those surprise moments of triumph, disaster, or canine tomfoolery, it’s usually best to have your camera mounted to your gear or body so you can be hands-free.
Take for example, when, during a recent kayaking trip on Lake Atitlan, Greg and Moxie swamped their kayak and capsized. Having carelessly failed to secure his GoPro to his lifejacket (more on that below), Greg found himself treading water while he tried to steady the kayak with one hand and clutch the GoPro in the other. As a result, he filmed more water and bubbles than the hijinks of trying help Moxie clamber back into the swamped kayak.
Spare Sticky Mounts
After long years in the wilderness, GoPro’s newest Hero 7 and 8 cameras are really impressive for producing rocksteady shots without that awful fisheye effect. The GoPro is great for mounting to your chest or forehead, but it also pays to be a little more creative.
We always bring along a few sticky mounts that we don’t mind using and losing or leaving behind. When out on the kayak or standup paddle board, for example, try placing a sticky mount up near the bow to face backwards towards you and your pup. It’s a great angle for filming a leap-off or tip-over.
Uneven But Always Level
Setting your camera at a distance is an excellent way to capture a time-lapse picnic scene or campsite setup. There’s a whole website call Amazon that’s chockfull of cheap, portable mini tripods on Amazon, but we swear by the Joby HandyPod and here’s why:
It’s small and light,
Creates a wide, steady base,
Provides a comfortable handgrip, and most especially
The head rotates so you can level the camera on uneven terrain.
Love that Double-Sided Velcro
Greg likes to have his GoPro mounted to the HandyPod while Jess prefers a floating handle. But, instead of removing the handles when we want to film hands-free, we secure the grip-mounted cameras to lifejackets, backpacks, or a tree branch with simple bands of double-sided Velcro. It’s secure enough for rough use and it’s quick and easy to remove when the moment calls for you to leap in with camera in hand.
Action Hero or Camera-dog
When it comes to Moxie’s GoPro fetch harness, we get a million strange looks from Guatemalan villagers and loads of questions from on 2 Wheels + 4 Paws viewers. The harness mount is a great way to capture a unique, exciting view of the action, especially since Moxie is the one who’s narrating. That said, it does come with some challenges.
Firstly, the harness has a tendency to shift to one side or the other, which means we’re constantly having to stop Moxie mid-action to adjust her rigging. Secondly, any shots that we take of Moxie while she’s wearing the harness show her as camera-dog rather than action hero and star of her own show.
Lastly, even the Hero 8’s Hypersmooth 2.0 image stabilization is no match for a hyperactive German Shepherd with a hypercharged case of the zoomies. If your pup prefers to prance rather than leap into adventure, then you should get great results. Otherwise, the best you can do is record at a high framerate and then use the footage in slow motion.
We hope you found these travel-with-dog filming tips helpful as you prepare for all your post-coronavirus staycation adventures. If you’ve got any tips or tricks that we’ve missed, shoot us a line and tell us about it.