Editor’s Note: Viator has it’s own travel videos to watch! We recently held a contest to “Win Your Dream Travel Job” where we selected 4 finalists to travel the world shooting video. For 60 days, these teams traveled and filmed in some of the world’s top destinations, documenting their experiences along the way. Go here to watch their unforgettable journey!
Thankfully with the technology that is available these days in 2012 almost everyone has video capabilities, whether it’s on your phone, your laptop, point and shoot camera, or a reasonably priced video camera. With sites like the second largest search engine in the world (YouTube), creating and sharing videos from our travels with family, friends, and the world has never been easier. Of course, with the proliferation of videos out there, there are plenty of bad, boring videos to sift through. But with a little extra work, you can create interesting, exciting vacation videos that friends and family will actually want to watch.
Here are some of the basic tips you should know for capturing your favorite travel memories on film.
1. What equipment to buy
Before rushing out to the store to spend lots of money on something to film your travels with, survey the gadgets you already own. Do you own an iPhone 4s? An iPad? Or even a Point and Shoot Camera? Then you most likely already have a great tool for the travel video beginner.
If you need something more don’t spend all of your savings, start with something cheap like the Kodak Playsport which starts around $150 (and is conveniently water proof). At the very most you could spend $300 – $350 on a camcorder by Sanyo, Sony, Panasonic and the other major players and you will be quite happy with what you get. Spending any more money than that when you haven’t shot your first frame of video yet could end up being a big waste. Start small, learn, try it out and upgrade later.
What about a DSLR? If you have a DSLR on the brain I suggest you start with the kit lens that comes with the camera and play around with it and try it out before investing hundreds of more dollars into a bigger and better lens.
2. Protect your gear
I always keep my equipment in my carry on luggage, that way it is less likely to get lost or broken. You also never know when something might happen in the airport or on the plane/train/bus that could be a good bit in your overall travel story.
Don’t think you need to go out and buy a big fancy camera bag either or if you do make sure it isn’t too flashy. Think no big logos everywhere; the less your camera bag looks like a camera bag the better your chances of not having your gear stolen. Also try to keep your gear tucked away as often as possible and avoid walking around with it hanging from your neck when not using it for safety reasons and to protect it from getting knocked around. Also use your lens cap to prevent scratching on your lens and if you are using a DSLR get an ND filter (should be $10-$20) to protect the lens.
3. Don’t forget to film yourself
If you are making a travel video and you are always filming your friends and family you may forget to film yourself. One of the main reasons you are most likely filming is to capture your memories and share moments with other people and adding yourself to video not only makes it that much better for your friends and family you are sharing it with later but also for yourself. More times then I can remember I’ve come home from a trip with hardly any photos or video of myself and I have regretted it.
Watch this video I made while traveling in Iceland and think about how different it might be if I had not filmed myself.
4. Use a tripod or monopod
One of the biggest flaws of people’s travel videos when they are just starting out is that they have too much movement. Videos either have too much panning or shakiness on a shot that should otherwise be still. A lot of people when they get a video camera in their hands just start walking and filming everything as their eyes see it but when this is seen on a TV or computer it can unfortunately lead to motion sickness. Watch your favorite travel TV show and pay attention to how much the camera is in motion and you will be surprised to see that most shots are static and that’s for a reason.
Maybe you aren’t ready to invest money into a tripod yet or can’t be bothered to carry it around with you, don’t worry there are a few ways to get around using one but remember ultimately it is the best solution. Try propping yourself against a wall to steady yourself, put the camera on a wall or table, buy a gorilla pod, xshot or monopod and if all else fails use the tension of your neck strap to try to keep your camera steady and keep your elbows stuck out and off your body, and hopefully your videos won’t be making Grandma nauseous.
5. Be conscious of the audio
The audio part of your video plays just as big of a part as the visual aspect of your video. Pay attention to it, whether it is in the field recording, doing voice overs, or the music you choose to use when editing. Constantly be thinking about audio when you are filming. Wind = bad audio. If you are filming in a windy area don’t try to record dialogue or if you must, try shielding the camera with a building or even yourself by turning away from the wind. Also listen for screaming children, trucks backing up, construction noises, or other things that might ruin your audio. The best tip, as silly as it sounds, is to stand there with your eyes closed and listen.
When recording voice overs, over-emphasize the tone of your voice, if you are wanting people to get excited about something multiply your excitement by ten for it to come across in full affect in the video. Also don’t use copyrighted music; either find a good free music license or create your own on a program like Garage Band.
6. How to make your video more interesting
One of the best ways to make your travel videos more interesting is to vary the type of shots you capture. Use close up shots, medium shots (generally waste up) and wide angle shots (scenery, landscapes, skylines etc.) to make the footage more interesting and to give it more detail. If you need to, remember that you can shoot these type of shots out of order and put them into place in the edit.
Another way you can make your video a bit more interesting is do research and give fun facts and history about the places you are visiting to keep your audience intrigued.
Also if filming a location, building, busy street, close up of something, or what have you, make sure to hold the shot for at least 10 seconds so you give yourself enough wiggle room for editing.
7. Programs for editing your travel videos
If you are just a beginner to making videos a good place to start is the programs that most computers come with. For PCs that would be Windows Movie Maker and for Macs that is iMovie. For PCs if you want to go a step further I recommend buying a program like Sony Vegas or looking at Adobe’s Premiere which you can trial run beforehand. For Macs, iMovie is pretty good and the next step from that is Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) but that gets pricey and I wouldn’t buy that unless you were 100% sold on making a lot of travel videos.
8. Tips for editing your travel videos
You have all of your footage shot and now it is time to pull it all together, the best place to start is organizing your files. Import all of your clips and put them in bins or folders by scenes/situations. Example—if you toured around a city and went to a zoo, took a ferry, and watched a parade, then take those 3 different scenarios and put them in their own folders so everything is organized and easy to find and then you can edit in segments.
When editing don’t let shots linger for too long unless something really interesting is happening or someone is talking. Quick edits keep the audience awake and paying attention, however it is ultimately up to you and how you feel it works best. One of my biggest tips is after you think the edit is complete walk away from it for a few hours or a day or two then come back to it, watch it again and most likely you will have had time to think about it and will notice things that are unnecessary or too long and want to edit it a bit more.
Some of my most successful videos are only one minute long and have very quick edits like this one called “San Francisco in a Minute.”
Those are my 8 long winded tips for starting to make your own travel videos. Whether it’s just to have for memories down the road, for friends and family, or you are thinking about starting a travel video blog like my own (www.TravelYourself.ca), then these tips should have you well on your way. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cailinoneil.