9 Sep 2017
Pro tips on recording pet videos you'll cherish for years

Pro tips on recording pet videos you'll cherish for years

Ever wonder how people get those amazing pet videos that go viral? Well wonder no more. I've got some great tricks and tools you can use to make sure you get the outrageously funny and warmly touching videos you want of your dog, cat, or hamster. Not only will they be fun to watch now, they'll become some of your favourites when you're in the middle of dealing with pet loss.

There is no doubt about it – digital technology has revolutionized our ability to capture memorable pet videos and pics. I, for one, am eternally grateful. Sure, it's great to have pet portraits and candid shots of our animal companions, but there’s nothing like being able to capture in full motion the cute, brilliant, and silly things our dogs, cats, and other pets do.

I have used all of the videos - those taken with my smartphone, those captured with our web cam, and those taken with our favourite DSLR -  of my kitties to create movies of Tia’s and Spartacus’ life stories – miniature films that serve as pet memorials, detailing so many of the best memories I have of them. If you're worried about forgetting what your pet looks like or you want to have a record of their coolest tricks and quirkiest habits, then I suggest you adopt some of these pro video recording tips to be prepared for the day when they're no longer with you.

Basic Principles of Capturing the Best Pet Videos

So how do you go about catching the best motion pictures of your pet rabbit, hamster, pooch, or feline? I’ve touched on where to store all of your pet videos (cloud storage) elsewhere, but aside from safeguarding your little movies from harm, I recommend following these other principles when capturing the action of your animal companions.

For dog videos, plan, practice, and be ready with treats

Most canines love to please their human companions. That makes it easy to set up the scene and get them to show off their greatest talents. It also means you can likely have multiple takes for each action you want to capture. Take advantage of this and practice a few times before hand before you capture the shot. Just have a few treats ready to reward a wonderful performance. [Note: Since I don't have a dog, I don't have a video of a do trick to include here so I've added one of Spart doing something that he and I did indeed practiced over the years. If you've got an amazing dog video we should use instead, send it my way!]

For cat videos, be prepared to camp out

Felines could care less about whether you’re pleased with their behaviour (by and large). That means if you want to capture an adorable habit, you’ll need to wait… and twiddle your thumbs… and wait some more. Knowing your cat and the triggers and places in which he or she is most likely to exhibit the desired activity is a huge help. This will allow you to set yourself up to be available when they deign to perform for you.

Get videos with you in the shot

Think of even the simplest things you love to do with your pet that you’ll want to remember later. For me, this was as simple as remembering how Tia would cuddle on my shoulder or how Spart lays his paw on my arm while sitting beside me. For each of these, I wanted to be sure I was in the video. Don’t forget those scenes you’ll want to remember as a participant in the action. [Note: Though you cannot see me, I am actually in this shot - catching Tia as she did my favourite trick of all...]

Don't forget the mundane

I’ve said it before about pictures but I’ll say it again in this context: capture all the video of all the things. What I mean is that you should make it a priority to get movies of your pets doing every little thing you can imagine – even the most boring, everyday thing. You never know what particular cute trait or turn of the head or switch of the tail you’ll want to recall after they’re gone. [This video, BTW, was taken with our Dropcam - more on this subject in another post.]

Rinse and repeat

I recommend to everyone I know to capture that perfect video multiple times, just in case. What for? First, I often find that the first time I catch a video of my cats, it’s ok, but not great. So I try again a few more times, and often I get a better angle or more of the action than before. Second, it’s handy to have multiple videos of your pet doing a particular thing just in case you happen to lose an old digital file. You never know!

Pro Tips Take Perfect Pet Videos Tiny Pet Memories

Tools You’ll Need for Capturing the Perfect Cute or Silly Pet Video

Whether you’ve got the luxury of time in planning your scene or need to get into director mode at the drop of a hat, these tools will make your job a little easier.

Have Your Smartphone at the Ready

This is perhaps the most important tool you have in your arsenal for capturing your pet memories. They’re unobtrusive, your pet is likely already familiar with its sight and sounds, and they’re small enough to have with you most of the time (as long as you don’t sit on yours). If you’re concerned about grabbing the perfect video, be sure your mobile device is close at hand.

Use an Action Camera When On the Move

Whether you’re hiking with your dog or encouraging your cat to chase his tail, an action camera can be a great way to get the shot without sacrificing safety or your own comfort. Strapping a GoPro or other action cam to your head or your chest not only allows you to participate in the action, it can also protect against dropping your expensive DSLR or mobile phone.

Use a Tripod if You’re Part of the Scene

Want to be part of the activity? It can be difficult to video tape something when you’ve got a camera in one hand and your dog’s favourite ball or toy in the other. Likewise, memorializing the silly antics of kittens can be a huge challenge when it requires two hands to keep them in the frame. If this sounds like something you’re dealing with, then consider placing your cell phone or DSLR on a tripod so that you can take a video of playing catch with your best friend or engaging in hide and seek in the sheets with your cat.

Have the Right Lighting

Of your dog can perform an amazing trick and you know you can set up the shot beforehand, go to the trouble of making sure you have the right lighting and angles to make it happen. Natural light is the ideal so shooting during the daytime is best. Regardless of whether you use artificial or natural light, be sure that your pet subject isn’t backlit – put yourself between your subject and the light so that his or her cute pet face is illuminated properly. If you really want to go all out, consider buying a three-light kit like this one.

Silly Pet Videos Tiny Pet Memories

Now, what do you do with all of these videos once you’ve captured and stored them? I’ve got some ideas for how to create the perfect pet memorial video on your own or get a pet memorial slideshow created for you (by me!), plus I highly recommend you look into cloud storage for your pet videos and pictures. In the meantime, just rest secure knowing that you’ll be able to visually recall all the things you love most about your furry friend after he or she is gone.

Image: Jessica Monte, Marion MichelePeter Hershey


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