Filming Techniques

What’s up everyone?
I see that flips are becoming popular, which is wonderful, however a big problem with people and flips is how to film them.
“Well Shaun how do we film flips?”
I’ll tell you Shaun… The first thing you’re going to want is no “eye-view” shots.
“Shaun, what’s eye-view?”
That’s where the camera is put at the height where you would be standing and watching. Another thing is closeness. NO BODY SHOTS! It’s a flip, there is no need to see what your body is doing, just what the wheel is doing. The last thing is the background. If you have a dark background, MOVE THE CAMERA, you can’t see black cranks on a dark background. If you have silver cranks or the moment cranks on the new KH 07 model which can be purchased at or you can call 416.729.9696, you can have a darker background.
This is a problem for my vid and other vids. If you follow these guidelines for the angle you won’t need to worry about the quality of your camera, we’ll be able to see the flip no matter what.

  1. Low angle
  2. Wheel shot
  3. Light-colored background

-Shaun Johanneson

Good right-up of how to film flips, although I think it belongs in the articles and tutorials section. Of course, it will get a TON more traffic here. Also, if you are filming a flip, try getting whoever is filming (or move around you tripod) to shoot it at different angles and experiment to find which one shows the flip best and which one looks best.

I’m really happy to see someone saying this. I have watched almost every single street, trials and freestyle vid posted since I joined and the ones I like follow all of those rules. The ones I didn’t like didn’t follow them.

Another good point about filming from a low angle is that you can hold the camera much more steadily from an outstretched arm acting almost like a pendulum. No muscle shaking and therefore a much more clear video.

Another problem I see often (particularly I was noticing it as a problem when I was filming) is that people film from too close and then can’t keep up with the rider. If you aren’t really good with a camera and can follow someone and always keep them in the middleish of the shot then take a few steps backward and leave more room for error. I often see too many clips where the person filming has filmed from too close and they either can’t keep up with the person or they move too quickly and part of the rider gets clipped off.

So another thing to add to your list is to always keep your subject completely in shot. If you can’t get that then getting a close up shot is pointless.

Low angle is really important. Many people don’t consider angle when filming. Its so important!

Backlight is important. Keep that sun behind you. Never film into the sun.


I would add something for the shots that imply jumps. Flips down sets or gaps, and trial moves for instance.

I think it is better when you can see both the taking off and the landing of the jump on the same picture. It becomes then possible to realize how far or how hight the flight is.


All these rules are great except for one, you don’t necessaraly need to shoot close ups on the cranks every single time. I think that most unicycling videos lack good wide shots, when you get to see the action, the environnement and the way the body is.

It is true though, that beginners tend to bypass closeups because it’s easier not to miss the action when shooting somewhat wide. The same goes with very wide establishing shots, that hardly ever appear in videos.

Shooting is all about finding the right balance between legibility (how clear the action is to the viewer), and aesthetics (how nice the shot is), or form another point of view between “relative objectivity” and “subjectivity”.

You need to be cautious with rules that may make your video a bit flat and systematic, unless of course you wanna make it a style.

IMHO you should try and vary your shots (Pasolinni is a great and extreme example of that concept) and keep the closeups for stunning key moments.

I’m just talking about flips here. The rules (in my mind) really only apply to flips. No if you’re flipping down a set, I suggest a filmer, if not, a frontly view (which you’ll get the take off and landing) is prime for the shot. If you’re worried about that the extreme of the set will be missed. Then shoot a shot of you riding like you are going to bust down the stairs at an angle that shows the extreme of the shot. Then jump back to that frontal view so we can see the damn trick, lol, you did down that wicked set. (8 set flip in sykovid and best of, is an example of the filmer, and the cut shot is in the night sess vid flip down a 2 set flat curb gap.)

-Shaun Johanneson

Haha ok Spielberg :stuck_out_tongue:

yeh sorry about that mate but like i said practice clips, but nice one for putting this up, you should talk to uni magazine about a filming technique for flips cos there doing one on street with dan heaton so yeh speak to mike penton details are on the website

Perhaps someone can illuminate this problem for me…

When people film jumps down big sets, it’s relatively easy (as the viewer) to gauge the size of the jump… most people are familiar with stair sets.

But muni filming never seems to do the rider any justice… even if the viewer has some experience with muni riding, it’s tough to get a feel for how steep or technical the terrain is. There’s often the problem of poor lighting, when filming under a canopy of trees, but lighting problems aside…

How could one best capture steep muni terrain? What angle would work best? Most people film on the trail and obviously this doesn’t work… I get the impression one should stand a ways off the trail to try and capture the angles best… as long as trees don’t obscure the shot.

Any tips would be appreciated.

I think a different angle with the 8 set would have been better, it is really hard to see how big it is because the camera follows you the whole time. When you filmed the 180 down that same 8 set you could see it a lot better and it looked huge.

the problem with that is that any shot too far out would have made the flip impossible to see. To me I don’t care about the size anymore, in skatevids you never see the sizes just the trick. To me that’s rad. Just so they see what’s going on, and they see the smoothness. If they really care to challenge it and see how big it is they can watch it over again to count the stairs or whatever. Also by having the 8 set 180 then everyone knew how big the set was when I flipped it, killed two birds with one stone. Plus skaters filmed that shot. I trust them. The last thing is the backdrop was kinda bad so the shot had to be angled up a bit for best results.

-Shaun Johanneson

The problem with filming MUni is multifold. One is that people, in person, always overestimate the grade of a slope; if you ask someone to guess the angle of any given slope, they’ll usually overestimate by a significant factor, possibly as much as double the real slope. A 45 degree slope looks crazy steep when you’re at the top of it thinking about riding down. Ever notice how a hill looks steeper from the top than from the bottom? Photos and video “flatten” the hill and tend not to capture the vertiginous feel.

One thing which can sometimes help is to adjust your depth of field. One of the things that makes a steep singletrack section gnarly is a big dropoff to the side or before a turn at the bottom; that dropoff is constantly in your thoughts as you negotiate the section, but in a typical shot it won’t be obvious at all. If you can adjust depth of field so the rider is in focus but the background is somewhat blurred, it can create more of a sense of depth to the image.

Reference points are also good. A person standing straight up at the top or the bottom of a steep section can give some sense of the steepness. A drop or slope will look steeper from the side than from above or below; for video, position yourself next to the steep part of a line, filming up the hill and panning your camera as the rider comes through.

For still photos, a slower shutter speed that creates a little bit of tire and crank blur makes for much more active images. In darker conditions, this will happen automatically; if you’re shooting in full sun, you’ll have to set your camera to use a slower shutter setting (and it still may not be enough, depending on your camera’s capabilities).

I generally find that shooting from near the ground, with some rocks in the foreground for size and slope reference, will make the hill seem steeper, but it really depends on the slope and the framing. On the other hand, shooting from a high vantage point can also provide some vertigo; it depends on the terrain and what’s in the foreground/background. Consider how much of the sky or tree canopy you want in the image; the angle of your camera will make a difference in the perception of steepness.

For video, don’t leave the rider in the center of the frame the whole time; riding out of the frame, especially in a downwards direction, can create an impression of steepness.

Just in general, don’t settle for the obvious shot. Everyone can get the obvious shot. Look for alternative viewpoints, foregrounds and backgrounds to increase interest.

And to be more topical–I don’t think there is much you can do with a camera to make fliptricks interesting to watch. The tricks in Defect were fun because they were new, but really, all the flip tricks look the same if you’re not really into flip tricks. It’s like trying to film new and exciting juggling patterns.

When you get up with the street times you might see the differences. But untrained eyes won’t ever see it.

-Shaun Johanneson

I agree with Shaun, if you don’t care about the flip tricks, then you’re not expected to see the differences, nor appreciate them. I don’t like how a lot of people are seeing them not as individual tricks, but as a group of tricks called “flip tricks” that are essentially all the same in technique and difficulty. You need to understand each trick’s uniqueness and difficulty in different aspects. Just my opinion. Maybe filming the tricks a little better will get more emphasis on this, who knows.

Love Kevin haha.