PART 1: SHOOTING THE VIDEO
I have seen far too many horrible travel videos. You know, the ones that you imagine the creator’s own parents struggling to sit through? They tend to be longer than 8 minutes and show every minute of shaky, poorly planned, dumpster-trash-garbage video footage acquired from the trip paired with a crappy song competing with the background noise of the actual video. I have learned how to avoid this and create far better quality videos through trial and error as well as a book that I find to be beyond helpful called How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by Steve Stockman. You can read it for free using Kindle Unlimited. It has done wonders for my video quality progression. My first video created was made without knowing I would be making a video. I wish I would have known because that was one of the best trips I had ever taken and I missed out on many golden opportunities to film the coolest parts of the trip. I think I kept it short enough, but I had to add the photo slideshow to give it enough stuff to fit the song. I probably shouldn’t have done that. Anyways, if you are too lazy to read the book or would like a fast way to improve videos, prepare for the tips below!
I have added many of my own videos that I have created to show my progression from awful to bearable. See below, this is my first video I created. I make almost all the amateur mistakes in it.
Shoot with a Purpose
What is the goal of your video? Do you just want to remember your trip? Do you want to showcase the culture? Do you want to make your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend jealous over how cool, laid back, and adventurous you are? Well you’ll surely show that betch how cool and adventurous you are if you remember your goal when it’s time to shoot. If you’re just trying to remember your trip, feel free to make it as long as you want. If your goal is to entertain other people, shoot a few seconds at a time.
Plan your shots
Have you ever noticed in movies that you aren’t looking through the same camera clip for more than about 15 seconds? You may not have noticed all the different perspectives and shots, but if you watched a show filmed in one shot it would feel very off. When you make your film keep this in mind. You don’t need to show more than a few seconds of each shot. Nowadays, people have really low attention spans and this helps entertain and keep it fresh. With your goal in mind, think about the things you want to film. Depending on the location of the trip you can get some stellar shots. In tropical locations you can plan a time lapse for a beautiful sunset (be sure to really plan for it to be sped up!). How can you get the viewer to understand the setting? Show parts of the landscape, animals, and shots of human emotions and reactions. Make sure the viewers can really grasp the setting as well as your adventures and your video will significantly improve.
- Shot examples Beach: People running into the water, sunset, birds in the sand, slow pan of boats in harbor, palm tree swaying in the breeze, someone’s reaction to cold water on their toes, underwater shots from wildlife, a crab scurrying across the sand, waves rolling in, volleyball game, hula dancers, surfer paddling out, young child’s reaction to seeing the ocean for the first time, building a sand castle, cliff diving, lounging by a pool, etc. The sky is the limit!
- Shot examples Mountains/Winter: Warm coffee steam in someone’s cold hands, snow falling peacefully, skiers/snowboarders shredding down the mountain, deer or wildlife roaming through the quiet snow, tree branches with the mountainy backdrop, people snapping their snowboarding equipment on, swimming in a heated outdoor pool with steam rising, snowmen, people trudging through the snow, someone’s reaction to being hit with a snowball, etc.
- Shot examples Culture: (my favorite) A view of someone’s nose down to the table showcasing the food they are eating as they take a bite, a dancer, people in the streets, a busy market, the delicacies of the country, differences from your own country, people doing PDA, interestingly dressed people (please ask before filming people, it may make them uncomfortable), cars driving past, village life, and the view from your car as you ride through a city.
ProTip: ‘Steal Like an Artist’ (another highly recommended book). This means to get inspiration from things already created. Watch your favorite travel videos. Write down the shots you enjoyed and what you liked about it. Try and incorporate those shots/ideas/themes to your own video (with your own style, of course! This doesn’t mean to make a list of all their shots and completely replicate their video)! It also works if a lot of people also liked it and found it entertaining.
My second video created after reading the majority of How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck. You can tell I was far more comfortable with it.
Know Your Camera
Know how to work your camera for goodness sake. Know how to use all the different modes before going on your trip and how to use the correct settings for different times of day, etc. This is pretty self-explanatory so I won’t go into too much detail. Basically, don’t use your camera for the first time on vacation. Practice makes perfect!
Steady as she goes!
Please make sure your video isn’t jumping all over the place. You don’t have to buy a $2,000 glidecam to accomplish this. Either use a tripod, or use an object as something to stabilize your camera. A lot of times you can find random items already in your vicinity to place or lean your camera against to keep it steadier. If you do want your videos to seem more professional without breaking the bank, you may want to buy a monopod or cheaper Glidecam so you can walk and still have steady video. Most wedding videographers swear by these things, but they may take up a good bit of room in your luggage or carry on. To me, since I am aspiring to be a professional videographer, it is worth it.
Lighting is important
If you’re filming landscape shots and cities that can be filmed at different times of day, try doing it when lighting is different or interesting. This means maybe waking up a little earlier to film at dawn, or being outside for dusk or even venturing out immediately after a summer rainstorm has blown through. I have found that filming a different times shows a bigger picture of what the setting is like. Personally I find the glowy feel that dusk and dawn bring to be incredibly soothing and calming. It shows a different side to the adventures. Even some sculptures are different at different times of day. For example the Trevi Fountain in Rome should be visited morning, daytime, and night to get the full experience. Show your viewers the full experience.
ProTip: To avoid losing footage, upload all photos/videos to your laptop each night after you’re finished. I have lost a GoPro camera full of videos from a trip and continue to kick myself for not backing it up each night. I could have had 3/4 of the photos that were lost. This also keeps room on your SD card for more footage!
Be sure to read Part 2: Editing Your Film for more tips on making epic videos!
I also feel the need to add that I was not paid or asked to review any of the products. They all come from my own personal recommendations.