How to Create and Edit Travel Videos
Have no experience with creating and editing video? Don’t worry! Just like anything else, it’s a learning process in itself – much like photography. No matter what experience level your filming / editing currently lays, everyone has to start somewhere. Here are some tips to get started with.
Before you go…
Before departing on your trip, come up with a concept that you want to capture and outline it. Depending on the amount of research you conduct on your destination, you will more than likely arrive with a good sense of what to expect. This will help you in creating a skeleton outline as to what you want to capture, specifics you want to focus on, and an overall vibe you want to create.
If you use music: One thing I find specifically helpful is to put together a good playlist before heading out on my travels. Personally, music is one of my core influences in my videos. A lot of times, however, the music selection will be decided after the trip itself during the editing process. You can find more about music selection in the Editing Process section below.
Filming on location
While there will be many things you will spontaneously film, you should have that skeleton outline we discussed earlier. Plan your shots accordingly so you can capture and tell your story. Think about the angle you want the shot from, the sentiment you want to convey (is it humor? Euphoria? Melancholy? Awe-inspiring?). Take candid shots of your surroundings that give your audience of what day-to-day life is like. If you are going to use voice overs, think about some of the things you will want to mention as you observe and take part in your travels. Keep in mind that this is a “minute tour,” so the more shots you take and the more angles you include, the more well-rounded your video will feel. You will also have much more editing power with additional footage. Throughout the filming process, try to plan your shots in sequence. This will help substantially when you are editing your video, as it will be much easier to piece your footage together.
Keep the Camera as Steady as Possible
Many people do not recognize this until they get back from their trip, but the slightest bump or sway on camera can give people motion sickness on a big screen. Instead of shooting while walking, try to take still shots with a steady hand and use slow zoom capabilities to focus in on your subject. For instance, if you are taking the footage of someone else, run ahead of them and let them walk passed you as you steadily pan the shot. That having been said, don’t over do it. There is nothing more visually nauseating than overly zooming in and quickly panning. When you take your footage, come up with a consistent means of filming and stick to it.
Get Over Being Camera Shy!
If you are putting together touring footage with a friend or of yourself, get over that shyness! This is a tour! Being awkward on camera is your psyche’s reaction to doing something unfamiliar – which makes it uncomfortable. I tend to think of camera-shyness as a sheet of ice that’s blocking my way. So what do we do with this obstacle? We break that ice with a sledgehammer called ‘your personality.’
Firstly, RELAX. If this is your first video in front of the camera, you will need a few takes – especially as you get comfortable in front of the lens. If you are talking to the camera, pretend you are describing something to someone you are very comfortable with. Use an appropriate amount of body language to help convey your message and your enthusiasm, and do NOT stick your hands in your pockets. That’s the clear-tell sign that you are uncomfortable. Most importantly, above all else, just be yourself.
The editing process
At this point, you have the skeleton outline of your movie along with the footage. Now comes the fun part: the editing!
Trim the Fat
The first thing you will want to do it sit down, watch all of your footage and ‘trim the fat’ – cut the unwanted, unnecessary, and poorly shot footage from your video reel. The more you can trim the easier your video will be for editing purposes.
(Re)Consider Music Selection
After your trip, you may now have a different ideas to what kind of experience you would like to convey. Music can help a great deal with that. You may have some ideas from that playlist we discussed earlier. If not, no worries. The easiest way to choose your music is to narrow your selection down to 5 choices, and listen/watch the footage simultaneously. I work through my footage while paying attention to the attitude and emotion the music conveys (IE you are going to have a very different video if you use Andrea Bocelli vs. Lady Gaga). I tend to find myself singing the song I want to use in my video the entire time in a location.
Tell Your Story
You have everything you need to now turn your footage into a stellar travel video. Consider things like transitions in between scenes, use of pictures, special effects, and voice overs to help you tell your story. While you have that skeleton outline and overall concept, there is no said outline to this – so do what feels right to you. After all, this is your Minute Tour.
Camera / Software recommendations
“What Kind of Camera Should I Use?”
While it would be nice if we could all afford one of these, it’s quite unrealistic. Believe it or not, point-and-shoot cameras (I stick with Canon and Nikon) and smart phones (iPhone, Android, Samsung) take fine quality HD footage that is just right for this kind of tour. SLR cameras are also excellent, as GoPro cameras are for action and adventure. Try to make sure you are shooting your videos at a frame rate of about 30 fps (the higher the better for effects like slow motion, etc). As you make your way up the in the world of videography and your editing skills improve, you may want to consider investing in a camcorder or an SLR Camera (Canon or Nikon are always winners) with video capabilities.
“What Video Editing Software Do You Recommend?”
Unfortunately, I have not had great experience with free video editing software. The majority of these are typically linked to trial periods, missing features you have to buy, and leave distracting watermarks on the footage you’ve just put your sweat and blood into editing. The good news is that you can afford two excellent (if not two of the best) video editing programs for under $100.
For diehard Mac converts (including yours truly), iMovie is a great place to start. iMovie is part of the iLife package software. The majority of my videos that I create are edited on iMovie. The editing process on iMovie becomes familiar fairly quickly, and the features are excellent. iMovie gives you the ability to create those awesome transitions, an easy way to monitor and create a story board, one click special effects and transitions, etc. I highly recommend iMovie ’11 to anyone with a Mac and brand new to this process.
Available for both Mac and PCs, Adobe Premier Elements offers a robust platform to organize and edit your photos and video into remarkable travel footage. While Apple provides some excellent tools for both photo and video, Adobe Premiere is the next step up – providing you with much more technical editing ability than iMovie with a quick learning curve.