You’ve probably seen the viral video of the toddler whose father mic’ed him up during hockey practice, where he discovered that his son was thinking mostly about naps and McDonald’s. If you wanted to find out what’s on your kid’s mind instead of sports, here are tips to accomplish what Hockey Dad did.
First, it should be noted that Jeremy Rupke, the dad who made the video, has a few years under his belt running HowToHockey.com, which features instructional videos on improving your game. He’s not new at this, and so you shouldn’t expect to get the same results on the first try. It’s also probably easier to film hockey than say, diving, since water’s probably not the best thing to be around a microphone.
Getting Good Sound
You’re not going to be able to duplicate the audio from this video using just your smartphone or even just your DSLR. Coach Jeremy used a wireless lavalier mic to capture audio, something that has a transmitter you place on the subject (in this case, your kid) and a receiver that plugs into the microphone input on your camera to get audio.
While wired lavalier mics are often cheap and great for static subjects, they won’t really work for sports. You’d need something that can transmit to the stands, where you’ll be sitting and cheering them on (since the audio source is your mic’ed up toddler far away, you can be as loud as you want, so go on and pile on with the encouragement). On the budget end, a VHF model Saramonic Wireless 4-Channel VHF Lavalier Omnidirectional Microphone System won’t break the bank at $99, but with VHF technology, range and line of site might be issues, so this might not be the best option for field sports. Stepping up to a UHF system like the Saramonic UWMIC9 RX9 + TX9, 96-Channel Digital UHF Wireless Lavalier Mic System or my personal set that I’ve used for the last 12 years, the Sennheiser EW series, will give you much more trouble-free wireless operation, though the price goes up by hundreds of dollars. Still, it’s what you need to get the kind of audio you’re hearing in the video of the hockey player.
Getting Good Video
This is where the better camera comes in handy. While newer phones have some small amount of zoom via extra lenses built-in to the body (like an iPhone XS with two cameras), these still won’t get you the range to see what your son or daughter is really doing out there. For that, you’d need something with a little zoom.
A camcorder is a good starting point, and many Canon Vixia models have quite a bit of zoom range, but a newer DSLR or mirrorless model equipped with a good focusing system for video, like Canon’s EOS 80D or Fujifilm’s X-T3, will get you most of the way there, with a long telephoto zoom lens, such as a 70-300mm or 55-200mm finishing the job and getting you close to the action.
Armed with a little practice, maybe the next video of your kid talking to himself while playing water polo will go viral. Well, maybe not water polo.
Do you have tips for filming kids playing sports? Share them in the comments below.