Photographs have long been the dominant medium for us to record our trips and adventures. They freeze a moment in time to be remembered forever. But, what’s better than a frozen moment? A moving one that recreates what once happened. Videos can be more compelling than photos as they capture images, movement and sound. But, while videos could be more compelling to share our travel memories, they can quickly become dull and boring if you don’t know how to make them correctly.
Whether it is a smartphone or a DSLR, know what your camera is capable of shooting and how to change the settings. Special moments can happen in a matter of seconds, so it’s best to be familiar with your equipment to respond quickly.
Some of the most viral travel videos out there have one thing in common: a strong idea "beaten to death" throughout the video. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos where people seem to be walking seamlessly across different countries, or the guy who appears in a different country every time he uncovers the lens with his hand, or the guy doing the same dance over and over in different destinations. You don’t have to do those things, but you get the idea: there must be a strong catchy idea, a storyline or a narrative to keep people hooked on your video. Anything is possible – just be creative and have fun!
Your video idea shouldn’t dictate your trip, but your trip should be reflected in your video. Consider extra time to shoot your clips, the logistics to get to those stunning viewpoints and more. As an example, a few weeks ago I wanted to shoot a few aerial shots in the highlands of Madagascar, only to realize along the way that my transportation planning (local buses) made it very hard to stop at key points to shoot. On the other hand, in Mauritius, I had a rental car that gave me the flexibility to stop anywhere and spend as long as I wanted shooting videos.
Be flexible too. As you go along, you’ll discover fascinating sights and scenes you weren’t expecting to see that will add to your story. Additionally, always think of what you’ll do with the footage you’re recording.
While today even our phones can record at 4K, most computers are still not capable of editing and rendering 4K videos (in a professional sense). That's why a 1080p resolution will provide high definition videos without occupying too much space in your memory card or require too much processing from your computer when editing.
Also, take into consideration the frames per second (FPS) in your video. For decades, the standard was 24FPS – fast enough for the eye to see smooth movements. Today, though, that’s no longer optimal for most videos, including travel videos. It is preferred to record at 60FPS to be able to capture fast action with less blur or to be able to slow down the clip without compromising its smoothness. Most DSLRs and even smartphones take 1080p at 60FPS and slow motion videos with up to 240FPS.
While places might be charming and show the beauty of a destination; people, on the other hand, can show the life, action and culture that could make your video even more memorable. Capture the lady cooking fish in the street cart, the man fishing by the pier, the kids running at the park and more.
You can shoot your friends and travel companions, or you could capture locals too. Have in mind that if you’re shooting a local, you should ask for their permission before recording them. Should your video be done for commercial purposes, you should ask them to sign a "model release" to avoid any potential legal action in the future.
Unfortunately, we have a short attention span, and we get bored easily. Your video should last between one and four minutes, composed of dozens of clips from different moments and places. Only create longer videos if you have a strong narrative, keeping the pace alive throughout the video.
Your video clips should have a duration of 3 to 5 seconds and no more than 10 seconds. More than that and the video composition becomes slow and dull.
Add dynamism to your video through the use of seamless and well-planned transitions between clips. These will help the video flow as one piece, even if one clip was taken in New York and the next one in China.
A good audio track can help create the mood of your video. Most travel videos place a background song that works well with the clips, but, the best videos do use that background music, create clip transitions based on the song beats and include ambient noises (the sea, wind, voices) to anchor the clips even more.
If you want to go the extra mile, you should color correct your videos. Each clip will have its particular brightness, contrast, saturation, and so on. To make a seamless looking video, you should try to match these as best as possible to create an overall look. Additionally, you can set the mood even further by adjusting the colors creatively.
Ready to amaze your friends with your next travel video?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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