The fact that most travelers have the capability to shoot video is an invitation for us to give it a try. Yet it seems we take very little on our vacations. Shooting video clips on our holidays seems to be an afterthought for most travellers. I want to change that, and make your travel videos stand out.
Well it’s time to put video shooting in the spotlight, with both quality and convenience, taking a few holiday videos is so easy.
Every camera and smartphone now comes with a video mode. Plus there is the added experience of motion and sound definitely making your travelogue shows that much better.
Now I’ll be the first one to admit as a veteran still photographer, that video is always a secondary thought in my mind. I often wish I would have taken more videos during my holiday trips and I have to keep reminding myself to do so and I really should!
I am here to motivate and convince you to shoot
more AND better video
In making a travelogue show of our trips, videos probably get us closer than anything else to actually being there. This is the best reason to shoot some good video footage so that you can take your audience back with you on that great travel adventure story.
> A few video basics to get you started:
Plan your shot
Right away I want all my amateur travel videographer readers to stop waving their cameras around shooting aimlessly. You know the type, standing there in the street panning around looking for something good to capture. No one’s going to look at all that junk, not even you! No more shotgun video.
From here on in we are only going to record and fill up hard drives with valuable footage that could be used in your edits, otherwise delete, delete, DELETE!
So with a little bit of planning, every video clip shot will improve your odds of getting a good take. Studying the scene for a moment will give you clues as to what angle to pick , how the lighting is working, what to crop out and leave in, where to pan (if at all) and when to capture the action.
Video is a horizontal format
First thing to remember is that video is shot in a horizontal format. Think horizontal flat screen TV. Yes, even when smartphone cameras tend to be held vertically, they do not make useable video clips.
Video takes longer to shoot
You do have to block off a little bit more time in your travels to get the proper coverage when shooting your video scenes. You may have to corral people to act/narrate in your clips. Plan to do more than one take if needed to get it right. Returning for a reshoot is highly unlikely.
Video takes more memory space to store
Video clips will consume large amounts of storage space, so be diligent in shooting only the best content and keeping only the best takes. Smartphone users need to be especially aware of this and have extra cards or a place to transfer the files elsewhere.
Shoot shorter video clips 10-30 seconds
If you plan it, you can shoot shorter video clips and bag a good take. Keep your video clips short. In this world of fast cuts and little patience, no one is going to sit through two or three minutes of a slow pan unless it’s truly stunning.
A talking head might be a little longer, but still keep it tight and don’t waste the audience’s time with filler.
Add pre-roll leader and a tail
Start shooting a few seconds before the action starts and leave a few seconds at the end to help with editing later. This will give you many creative options as to where you may place your cuts
Keep the camera steady
One can get away with a little bit of wobbly camera work but too much shaking will be distracting and can make your audience dizzy. As a traveller we have little time to get fancy, so I suggest if you are not dragging a large tripod around, try these tips:
- If at all possible, place your camera on a solid object or mount it on a mini tripod, selfie stick and keep it stable.
- If you are doing handheld, keep your arms as close to the body and perhaps even lean against a wall to give yourself more support.
- You could also duck tape your phone to something sturdy temporarily…get creative…doing so will improve your video takes immensely.
If the eyes are not in focus, then the video clip will not work. That goes as well for any point of interest in your footage that is fuzzy; you just can’t use that, as it really needs to be sharp. (at least most of the time)
Crop with optimum space
Briefly, how you crop affects the feel and message of your shot. Cropping too tight or too wide will fail to communicate the right thing.
Give breathing room (negative space) for the main subject in the frame. Show enough extra lead-in space for action, motion or people looking to the left or right.
Say enough, but not too much in your frame… the KISS rule (keep it simple stupid).
Get the video coverage
As you travel around shooting video of interesting locations, keep in mind a few basic film school concepts. You should create establishing shots, these are wide-angle scenes of the locations that give an encompassing feel to where you are. Then come in with medium and close-up shots of interesting detail you can use as alternate B-roll footage in your edit cuts.
You could instead opt for still photos to insert in your edit to say the same thing; your call.
Improve the audio
Audio seems to get neglected, but it is just as important. (Unless you like silent films of the 20’s!)
Do what you can as a traveler and try to either get anyone talking to be closer to the camera microphone or use an external mic to capture the audio. That said, half the time you will likely not even use the video’s audio track and replace it during editing with narration or music.
Video takes more time to edit
It might very well take longer to edit your vacation video together than it did to actually shoot it. I know you do not want to hear this, but you have to be aware of that when you get into the project. Otherwise it will never get finished, never get seen…and then what’s the point?
Psych yourself up, to follow up, after you get home, to get that travelogue video cut and show it! Plan around up to 2 hours of edit time for every minute of finished video if you go big time “Hollywood”.
Practice your craft
To get good at anything, you need to do more of it. Keep shooting, keep trying new things. Review your footage and learn from it what works and what doesn’t.
Eventually, not only will it be easier to shoot more and better video clips on your holidays, but your personal artistic style will develop. One day you will recognize it and build on that with confidence and pride. That is when it all comes together and your travelogue storytelling is happening – Showtime!
This article was just a handful of simple pointers in taking travel videos and encouraging everyone to shoot more and improve their skills as they practice.
There is still plenty to cover and learn but just these tips will raise you above the sea of mediocrity and entertain your audience. Whoknows? Maybe one day you may take it seriously and get into doing pro travel documentaries yourself.
And finally, why is YouTube so popular? Everyone loves videos! So get out there, travel the world, and bring back your best travel adventures. And share them with us here at TC.