This is the second instalment of creating engaging travel video content.
In Part 1 of Video Tips for Travel Bloggers we talked about equipment, telling a story, and keeping track of ideas. The focus of this article is Post Production, the fancy word for Editing.
About Mike: Mike Corey of Kick the Grind TV has won 2 travel video blogging competitions, been featured in the Huffington post, has ascended to youtube partner status and has been featured in film festivals. He’ll be talking about the tips and tricks he’s learned the hard way while travelling our incredible planet with a video camera.
So, you’re back home. You’ve got a digital everest of footage on your camera, and you’re wondering where to begin. Grab some popcorn and get comfy. Before you import into your editing program, you really should organize all that footage.
If you’ve followed these steps, click on “Sort by Name” in your editing program and you’re ready to go.
The stock answer for “How long should my travel video be?” is 3 minutes. Unless you’re entering a film festival, I still feel that number is dead on.
Knowing what to cut is just as important as knowing what to keep. Be RUTHLESS when it comes to the selection process, because your average viewer is RUTHLESS when it comes to clicking away. Too short is a world better than too long, and would you rather your viewer watch 2 short videos, or half a long video?
A question I ask myself: Gun to my head, which 5 clips would I cut?
Here’s a trick: Get a friend to watch your video when it’s close to being finished. Watch their eyes as they watch your video. The moments they glance away are the moments you lose momentum. When the video is over, ask them how long they thought it was. The goal here is to get them to under guess; good things always feel like they’re over too soon.
The key is momentum. What drives that momentum is music.
It only takes one windy trip to realize that strangely enough… Audio quality is just as important as video quality. If you’re planning on taking videography seriously, buying a camera with an external microphone jack is a great first step. Spending a little extra on a directional “Shotgun” mic allows you to capture the sound you intend to. If you’re really sick of wind blasted audio, check out “Dead Cat” mic covers. Funny name, but very effective.
Can you get “free” Royalty-free music?
Ha well…. There are free music sites, but you learn quickly that sifting through piles of songs that are reminiscent of old Atari games is frustrating work. It’s especially tough for travel videos because quite often you want to include music from that area of the world.
Here’s another trick: All over the planet you’ll find local artists playing music and selling home made CD’s. Tell them you make videos, and that their music is absolutely beautiful. Ask if you’d be allowed to use their music. If they agree, make sure to get a quick contract on paper, and add a nice tip on the price. After all… You now have the rights to the perfect music; local musicians playing local instruments.
But we’re not always that lucky. Music being one of the most important aspects of a video, I feel it’s worth a little investment. I will spend up to $30 to finalize a video I’m proud of. Two resources I recommend are Neosounds.com and Audiojungle.net. An occasional purchase from either site, and the stock music found in most editing programs and you should be set.
Just remember: Cut your music on beat. If it’s a nice silky smooth song, use long crossfades. If it’s a crispy snare hit, use a direct cut. Your editing should reflect the feeling of your piece.
Let’s talk about the basics that come with your operating system.
iMovie for Mac excels in putting something good looking together quickly. Beautiful templates and a clean design make starting out easy. However, both you and your viewers are going to get way too familiar with the “Bulletin Board” theme and the “World Map” generator. Windows Movie Maker on the other hand, is much more flexible. The cost of that freedom is a steeper learning curve, and it’s lack of a user friendly interface (Typical Mac vs PC). However, there is no need to jump ship too soon. 95% of the transitions I use are either direct cuts or cross dissolves. Both are available in even the most basic editing programs.
General Rule: The best editing is the editing you don’t notice. Be wary of using any transition that draws attention to itself.
This was my progression:
Start with what you’re given (iMovie, WMM). You’ll know you’re ready to move on when you start discovering the limits of your program. When you’re ready, hop to a ~ 50 USD editing program like Magix Movie Edit Pro, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, or Adobe Premiere Elements. There is plenty to play with at this level, and quite often this is as far as you’ll ever have to go. There’s always pressure to use Pro Apps like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. They require a serious investment of time and money, and I often see people using them just because they think they should. Like I mentioned above, master the tools you have and discover their limits before deciding you need new ones. Youtube, Lynda.com, and that thick instruction manual are great teachers.
To finish off today, I’d like to share another lesson I had to learn the hard way.
Golden Rule #2: Never NEVER say “we’ll fix that in post”. Odds are that it’s much less work to just shoot it again.