Paintball is one of those activities that is better described on video than in still photos. To help our friends at Hot Shots Paintball to promote the sport and their facilities in Loxahatchee, FL we created a few videos using GoPro cameras to capture the action from the paintball field.
To create these videos we tried many different ways of filming the action mounting the camera to just about anything we could think of including the barrel, hopper, face-mask, bunkers and the gun itself. Each method of filming has its own benefits and drawbacks, but in the end we were able to come up with some great footage.
The GoPro cameras are great at catching the up-close action, but lack the ability to quickly change focus in outdoor lighting and it can be difficult to see targets on video that are easily visible to players.
Barrel Mounted Camera
To mount your GoPro camera directly to your paintball barrel buy a “handle bar mount” from GoPro and use the hardware to mount the camera near the base of the barrel. A barrel mounted camera will give you a unique perspective, but the camera shakes a lot and since your point of view is the barrel and not the player, when you run viewers may get a little dizzy.
The barrel mount lets you clearly see the shots as they leave the barrel, but the sound of the game is overpowered by the sounds of the gun including shooting, balls dropping from the hopper, and the hopper electronics spinning. Do not use this method if you want clear sound in your video.
Hopper / Gun Mounted
In an effort to get the best possible angles for our paintball videos we tried mounting the GoPro cameras to the hopper and gun using the adhesive mounts. Using this method did not even last a whole game because it makes your paintball gun more difficult to aim and shoot.
Overall my favorite mount for filming paintball action is the headband mount worn so the camera peeks out of the top of your paintball mask. This mounting method captures all the action in a 1st player (Call of Duty) style format. When the camera is mounted on the head you can see the full side of your paintball gun including the full length of the barrel and the back/side of the hopper.
As players move around the field the headband mounts captures what the player sees and can give viewers a better understanding of what playing paintball is really like. The headband mounts will record cleaner audio than other methods but the voice of the camera-wearer will overpower most other sounds.
So far the GoPro has been the best tool we have found to capture paintball action on the field without risking bringing telephoto lenses and other expensive camera equipment into harms way. However; it does have its limitations regarding changing light conditions and distances. Even after enhancing video footage it can be difficult to make out the targets we are shooting at.