So, you’re about to embark on an adventure. I get it, it’s one of the best, most exciting feelings. As you’re planning your trip, you’re thinking of the way you want to capture it. You see so many boring travel photos plastered all over your Facebook newsfeed, and are looking for a way to truly capture your memories.
There’s something about making a travel video that’s very appealing – it can be very creative, rewarding, and if you put a bit of thought into it, it can become your own exciting project that you have going on throughout your travels. When I went round South America I actually often found myself feeling very productive, but with nothing to do – instead thinking about all the cool ventures I would start when I was back home. (When you travel it’s easy to feel like you need to do something with all the inspiration you build up from the adventures). Since then, I’ve found that creating a kick ass travel video is THE best way to focus this energy and come back from the trip with something really meaningful.
Video is one of the best ways you can capture your memories in their purest form, and with awesome new technology coming out in this field the whole time (latest iPhone shoots 4K video…), there hasn’t been a better time to do it. But where do you even start? That’s what I wanted to help you out with – here are the 5 steps that should guide you in the right direction and set you way ahead of the curve.
Step One – Get Inspired (& Plan)
This is where we can start to talk about the intimidation of the vast blank canvas that stands before you. You could literally make your travel video anything you want. From a documentary that aims to capture as much truth and reality as possible, to a highly pre-planned cinematic masterpiece. It could be a video that shows off your good times and romanticises the travel lifestyle, or it could be a hilarious reel of you and your friends/people you meet cracking jokes and doing stupid shit. The possibilities are endless, and blending your own vision with what happens spontaneously on the day is the true beauty of travel filmmaking.
The best place to start is to watch some other travel videos. From epic high production vids to some more amateur stuff – you’ll find all the inspiration you need on YouTube and Instagram. The key here I’ve found is rather than seeing a video and trying to copy the entire thing, look for certain aspects and techniques you love, find out how to create them, and try and incorporate them into your video.
I wanted to give you some examples of cool travel videos that you can watch to get some inspiration, and take some techniques from.
For example, my buddy Joe had a very clear idea in his mind about what he wanted to create when he went to South-East-Asia, and the result is simple but awesome. Just by using this simple technique in each cool landscape/situation he was in and understanding editing basics, he came out with something that captured his trip in a unique and very watchable way:
Awesome. Here is a video I made of a 10 day trip to Croatia. This was a film that I was thinking about a lot throughout my whole time there, and I had a specific style in mind before I even started. The rough process was to film for a couple of days, roughly edit the footage, see what direction the video was going, see what I was missing (more fun? more chilled out bits? more landscapes?) and base the rest of my focus on that. Note that I didn’t let this influence my trip – I still went with the flow, but just paid attention to what I was filming.
For example if I was in a bus, where me and my mates were joking around, and at the same time the landscape we were passing through were awesome – and I knew I had loads of footage of my mates joking around and not enough landscapes – guess what I would shoot. (And even better get a couple of shots with both in).
Here is a more narrative style of travel video in the form of a VLOG from FunForLouis. Although he does daily videos, which is a full time job in itself, you can take a lot of inspiration from him and the fun way he brings his personality into the video.
So go do a few searches online, get inspired, and gather together a few techniques/styles to keep in mind when you set off.
If you have no idea how to pull off a certain technique – research how to do it! There’s a Youtube tutorial out there for everything. And I mean everything.
Step Two – Pick your camera and equipment
Here it is, the Big Question: What camera should I shoot with?
This is a hard one. I almost had a breakdown trying to decide whether I should take my DSLR to South America or not. In hindsight I’m really glad I did, because we got some epic photos and high quality footage from it. At the same time though – it did take up quite a bit of room, and I managed to snap the lens straight off the body a couple of weeks in… (I got it fixed of course).
It all comes down to how committed you are. These days I bring a whole lot more than just an DSLR on my trips, but that’s because I love making travel videos and it’s slowly becoming my ‘job’.
So it’s up to you to decide your commitment, and from there go ahead decide what you’re going to bring. I think there are 4 ‘levels’ of camera types you can bring:
‘Have-it-on-you-anyway’ – Your phone
‘Fits-in-your-pocket’ – A compact camera
‘Takes-up-a-bit-of-packing-room’ – A DSLR
‘Bring-a-whole-separate-bag’ – A DSLR with a few lenses, other equipment, or even a bigger more expensive camera.
Step Three – Get Filming!
So once you’re all set with inspiration, a very rough (or detailed) idea of what you want to achieve, and a camera, it’s time to embark on your adventure.
Now you’re there – what an earth do you film?
I think the best way to understand this is give you the most common mistakes:
Mistake #1 – Filming everything.
This will result in way too much footage, and so a monumental editing task that is put off, a video that no one sees, and possibly a mental breakdown.
Mistake #2 – Only filming landscapes and places.
Yes it’s the landscapes and places that are new to you, and are what you’re going out there to see, but i’ve found that you won’t usually care that much about the actual places once you’ve been there. What will be a lot more meaningful to you are the relationships you form with people on the way and the people you are with in those places. Always keep this in mind. Film people and good times in those places, rather than just places themselves. When I travelled to South America when I was less conscious of all this, I wish I had filmed more friends and good times. This links back to cameras too – I couldn’t realistically bring my DSLR on nights out or in more dangerous areas. Back then I also had a pretty rubbish phone that couldn’t capture anything of decent enough quality to be properly used. Even in 2/3 years technology has come so much and I’m blessed with an iPhone and GoPro to capture those moments.
Mistake #3 – Moving the camera way too much.
Don’t see something interesting, point and shoot for half a second, before shooting something else.
Try and think in 5 second ‘moments’ to capture. This is about looking for the moments you want, and making sure you have a steady camera and a decent shot when those moments are happening. Here is a video I made on How To Film Good Times where I explain this in depth:
Step Four – Start editing whilst you’re out there (if possible)
I love doing this. Personally even after a few days and picking shots relatively carefully, I always get overwhelmed with the amount of footage I’ve shot. So what I do whilst I’m still travelling is to begin to piece together the shots I’ve captured already. Like I mentioned before, in the Croatia video I did this to see what I had already, and what I needed to complete my ‘vision’.
View it like a puzzle or a blank Canvas – you’ve splashed some paint on (put a few shots in the edit suite), got a better feel for what’s going on and now have something to work with and build upon. What does it now need?
At this point I also start listening to tracks I might want to add to the video and experiment with them.
Step Five – The Polish
Once you’re back, now you can start adding in the rest of the footage, and working out where everything is going to go. Taking your time in the edit is critical and a lot of people either rush it, or are so perfectionist the video never makes it out.
At this point it’s also important to get rid of the bits that don’t look good, don’t fit in, or don’t add anything to the video. To be honest, you’ll have a lot of footage that is just pretty shit. It’s up to you now to say no, close a few doors and really decide what sort of video you want it to turn out like.
Do you want it to really reflect the truth as much as possible? Then maybe some of this ‘shitty’ footage would have value.
Do you want it to be entertaining and watchable to your friends, family and the rest of the world? Then I would cut it down even more than you think is necessary.
This is the time to start refining cuts, putting shots to the beat of the music if you’re using a track, and manifesting the techniques that you were inspired to include before you set of (if they’re still relevant).
You want to get the best out of what you have, but you don’t want to let perfectionism control you. This is KEY. Don’t put an unfinished masterpiece out there, but know when it’s time to think “you know what, it’s time for the world to see this”.
If you want to learn how to make dope travel videos that blow people away, get tonnes of views and even boost your Instagram following, then I’ve created a 3 day video course called the Travel Video Bootcamp. Reviews have been fantastic so far, and it’s on a crazy discounted offer right now – check out what the hype is about and learn more here.
Happy Travel Filming!