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Behind the Scenes of an Epic Travel Video

After receiving what seems like 5,000 questions about creating my travel video from the Isle of Skye, I have decided to go through the process of recording, editing, and posting for all who were curious in a consolidated post format. If you haven’t already seen the video, check it out below.

Also, I wanted to address something that I have also received dozens of questions about… my camera.

I have gotten several people saying “I love your video, what type of camera do you use?” While I know they honestly mean well, you wouldn’t ask a baker “What oven do you use?” after having a particularly delicious meal. You’d ask for the whole recipe if you intended on recreating it. Well the recipe for good video does not rely solely on the type of camera. When someone creates a video, it feels a little insulting that people think that the video is good because the camera is good. The filmmaker has to take into account the angles, composition, lenses, and lighting they want to shoot. For more information about how to make videos that people want to watch, check out this post. The best thing to ask a photographer/cinematographer instead is, “What was the process used to film/photograph this shot?”

When I travel I only take a carry-on. This can be interestingly inconvenient when I’m travelling with a drone. To carry the drone I used a hard shell backpack specifically designed for the drone and its accessories. Sadly, the only things that fit into aforementioned backpack are the drone and its accessories. Luckily I was traveling with my lovely boyfriend and he brought a large backpack to fit all our clothing and other accessories into. If you are traveling solo with a drone, it may be necessary to also check luggage.

Equipment Used

  • DJI Phantom 3 Professional Drone
  • Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera
  • Canon 18-135mm STM lens
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
  • Dolica LA600 Pro 60-Inch Aluminum Alloy Traveler Edition Tripod with Quick Release Plate
  • GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition

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Pre-Planning

Before I headed to Scotland I came up with the purpose/feeling I wanted to portray with my video as well as a ‘Shot List’ of all the footage I wanted to get. Luckily it was an absolutely gorgeous place that made filming a breeze. I used my tripod for almost all the shots to reduce shakiness. This is probably the most important thing to do  in order to make a professional-looking video.

Purpose: to create a video documenting how much fun our trip was in order to remember as well as share with our families and friends. 

Things hardly ever go according to plan. I forgot my shot list at home and I just went from memory. I remembered that my grandmother (bless her) has recommended that I get more footage with myself in it. Listen to the constructive criticism of others and you may end up with better quality video.

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Key Techniques Used

Capture movement– Shots that have no movement are boring. Try and find things that are exciting to look at. Some examples I used were the seagulls at Neist Point, waves rolling in, wind blowing through leaves, and cars driving past mountains. There is movement in the vast majority  of my shots, if not all.

Scale– As much as I hate this realization, it’s a fact of life: photos and videos can never do justice to the sheer immensity of natural wonders. In order to successfully capture it to the best ability possible, I included teeny tiny people and sheep for scale. Everyone has a general idea how big a human is. When they see the human and compare it to the actual subject, then they get a better idea how massive the subject actually is.

Zoom– Another trick I used in attempt to capture how massive the cliffs at Neist Point were was to partially zoom in so that the entire cliff didn’t fit into the frame. If you pay close attention, you can see smaller cliffs, waves, and the grass that was closer and compare them to how big monstrous rocks were on the opposite side. Nothing says I’M HUGE like the viewer thinking “Woah those cliffs were too big and badass to fit in the frame, I bet they’re even bigger and badasser in person!”

Dramatic Drone Shots– With a battery life of only 23 minutes it’s pretty hard to choose what constitutes perfect timing to use the drone. There were tons of gorgeous places we wanted to capture bird’s eye, but with only 23 minutes it was hard to gauge whether or not each location is ‘the best’. To choose, we looked for the most dramatic locations with contrasting colors. With the freshly snowed mountain tops as a backdrop, the Fairy Pools immediately jumped to the top of the list. We used about half the battery life there (I forgot to press record so we had to fly the path twice because I am a dummy sometimes). With about 50% battery we made it to Neist Point and knew we immediately MUST fly it once we climbed the cliffs. There was 0 mph winds (absolutely shocking) and we lucked out with the most gorgeous weather. Weather is a huge concern when it comes to flying drones. If there’s even a tiny hint of rain or too much wind, it could make flying a death sentence for the drone.

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Capture dramatic shots– The Isle of Skye made it so easy to film interesting places because it looked absolutely alien. There were rock formations, bright colors, brown grass, green moss covered mountains, and bright blue waters everywhere we turned. The lochs seemed to outnumber the people and the sheep seemed to outnumber the lochs. My favorite locations to film came from finding soft items and hard items in the same shot. This meant I would like to scope out luscious fields surrounded by jagged rock, pillars of rock formation jutting out of water, and teeny tiny lambs crossing the rocky road. Most of my filming was filming rocks. These rocks rocked!

Include Ourselves– I am usually the one behind the camera. I just feel awkward in front of it, but it makes the video seem far more personal. We painted a picture of our (wonderful) relationship and that made it far more intimate. Plus, our goal was to show friends and family how our trip went and that’s what it did. It probably would have been more boring if the people they wanted to see weren’t even in it. I feel that we painted a love story that we will be able to show our (eventual) children someday and they might actually care to see it.

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Use a Tripod– I recently purchased my first tripod and I have zero complaints, in fact I want to tell everyone to go out and purchase the exact one I got. I never realized how shaky my video was until I compared it to my tripod footage. The panning shots are FAR better now and you don’t get motion sickness from watching it anymore! Thankfully it folds up all tiny and attaches to a backpack so it’s more versatile and able to be carried in the roughest, toughest terrain.

Depth of Field– My favorite thing about my new Canon EOS 70D is the ability to select the focus using the touch screen. It’s my favorite feature and it makes for some awesome shots. I used my 50mm lens for most of the shots with the fuzzy background, also known as bokeh. I tried to keep the ‘change of focus’ (referring to when the camera has focused on something close up while the background is fuzzy, then the focus changes to an item in the background and the item in the foreground is now fuzzy) to a minimum but found it difficult because it makes such a professional-looking shot. I personally love the bokeh effect, but too much of it sprinkled in may look amateur.

Panning– In my previous videos I realized that I was including far too much panning. In this one I wanted to make my panning shots count so I looked to the same dramatic locations I used for regular filming. I realized that zooming in and panning makes a location seem as big as it actually is. Panning without including the entire thing makes a viewer feel like they’re also there. I think it needs to be said that panning REQUIRES a tripod.

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Rule of Thirds– I took a few college classes and took note of the Rule of Thirds. I decided to see if it worked well for video as well and it did. If you’re uncertain of what the Rule of Thirds is, check out this explanation! It adds a good, professional variety to the head on shots that people like to take. Finding a new place to capture your subject makes it seem more interesting and varied.

Editing

Music Choice– Usually I tend to go for songs that have no words but I couldn’t find anything that fit the feeling of the trip. The closest thing I could find was a Mumford & Sons jam which turned out to be perfect. It ended up taking me a full day to figure out what the choice of music would be. Spotify playlists are an excellent way to find songs based on the feelings you want to portray.

Adobe Premiere Pro– I edited this video in Adobe Premiere Pro. I used to use the free iMovie that came with my MacBook but Premiere Pro has far more features that I love to use. PP is really difficult to figure out so I recommend taking a class to learn how to work it. I personally used this one from Udemy.com and it has set me up for success in the video editing world. Once all my video footage was imported to my computer, it took about 8 hours to create the video in its entirety.

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That’s all folks! Is there anything else you want to know about creating travel videos? Let me know in the comments!

About Author

Addie

World traveler. Health nut. Adrenaline Addict. Pilot. Scuba Diver. Surfer. Lover. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

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