How to Film a Golf Swing – Video Camera Setup for Online Golf Lessons

by Herman Williams

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This is a text description of the video on how to film a golf swing with details on proper video camera setup for the best results for your online golf lesson with Herman Williams or any type of video golf swing analysis you plan to do in the future. It does not require sophisticated equipment or a Hollywood film background, but following a few key guidelines about camera placement, camera settings and lighting will go a long way toward making your golf swing video the best it can be.

Cameras for Filming Online Golf Lessons

We use several different cameras at Herman Williams Golf for our golf lessons and video golf swing analysis. Digital camcorders from Canon include the  ZR85 and ZR60 used with firewire hookups for uploading to computer. As a side note, our video analysis software is the SwingView Pro system from Swing Technologies.

Another camera we really like is the Casio EX-FH100 which can film in slow motion up to 1000 frames per second with amazing clarity with a similar result to the Konica Minolta SwingVision videos you see on golf telecasts. All of the slow motion swings you see of the pros in our Youtube videos from the 2011 Masters are filmed with the Casio. This is about a $300 camera, but other less expensive Casio models also offer the slow motion video.

What’s really nice about the EX-FH100 is the capability to manually select the shutter speed while also filming in ultra slow motion. Shutter speed is the real secret to getting useful video of any high speed motion like a golf swing. Even filming in slow motion you will still get a blurry picture of the golf shaft and hands if you don’t have a camera capable of higher shutter speeds. Most cameras have a sports mode which helps, but often is still not fast enough to do a great job.

Lighting for Filming Online Golf Lessons

The other essential to clear video is great lighting particularly if you have to depend on an automatic shutter speed setting or sports mode on the camera. Unless you have a manual override, when the camera does not sense enough light to get a clear picture, it will reduce the shutter speed internally. The bottom line when filming golf swings is to try to have good sunlight preferably shining onto the player from behind the camera. Professional photographers and videographers will use reflectors to make sure their subject is “front lit.”  If the sun is behind the player (backlighting) and shining into the camera, you will get a silhouette effect in which the player appears as a dark blob in the middle of the shot with little useable detail. Filming at mid-day with the sun directly overhead tends to eliminate these back-lighting problems or shadowing effects. Overcast days that are somewhat bright also work well as there tends to be no shadows or glare.

Camera Placement for Filming Online Golf Lessons

Camera placement should be on a tripod or some other stationary mount to avoid shaking. Accurate video analysis of golf swings really needs a steady camera especially for the graphics and line-drawing features of the video software. In addition camera angles and distance from the subject are very important. The camera height ideally will be about waist-high. For a face view shot, the camera should be perpendicular to the player’s belt buckle – basically dead center of the golfer’s body. Down-the-line shots need a camera mount pointed on a line inline with the players hands at setup or roughly half way between the player and the golf ball. If the camera is mounted inline with the players feet, this is acceptable, but inline with the golf ball does not work well for accurate assessment of swing plane.

An additional detail to be aware of with camera placement is the distance from the subject. Most often we see video from clients that is shot from too great a distance or with a wide angle lens and the detail we would like is missing. Test your shot before hand to make sure you have the tightest view possible which still gets the entire arc of the golf club in the shot. Historically for standard camcorders, we have found this distance to be about 21 feet. But wide angle lenses which are typical on smart phones and some of the newer pocket cameras require shooting the video at closer distances. Be sure to test your system before sending us video of a golfer who looks like an ant in the distance.

Video Length and File Size for Online Golf Lessons

Lastly, be aware that you will eventually need to upload this video and/or be able to email it. Video files in their native AVI format are massive and can take a long time to edit, upload or email especially if they have not been compressed or converted into a more manageable file format. For this reason have all of your prep work done in advance, so when it’s time to film your golf swing, you are actually filming your golf swing. You don’t want 5 minutes of video rolling while you adjust your stance or walk back and forth to the camera. It’s best if you have a friend or assistant who can start and stop the camera for each swing. Ideally 6 or 8 swings will be under 30 seconds of video. If you don’t have help and need to keep the camera rolling, be sure to edit your video down to just the swings if possible.

OK. That’s how to film a golf swing for an online golf lesson and video swing analysis. You may not be an expert golfer yet, but you should be a good videographer. So get out there, film your swing and prepare to get Hermanized. :)

I look forward to seeing your golf swing soon.

Herman Williams

[back to Online Golf Lessons page]

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