Viewing it? Awesome. Making it? Intimidating. In this 2 part series we are delving deep into the intricacies of creating engaging travel video content. 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.
First off, let's talk gear. My main cameras are a Panasonic HDC TM- 700 Handicam and a Canon t3i (600D) DSLR. I also use a GoPro from time to time.
What I've learned is that if video is your main focus, you're going to want a video camera. I know that sounds like “Cameras 101”, but for some reason our society has begun to think that photo cameras are better for video.
Perhaps Handicams have become synonymous with “Soccer Mom”, or maybe a DSLR around your neck is the “Bling” of the 21st century…but let me crack the shutters on the truth. There are some serious things to consider when choosing which road to go down, so here is a list of Pros & Cons of shooting video with similarly priced, medium tier cameras.
- Interchangeable Lenses • Extra Weight, and not “Pocketable”
- Large Sensor = Good in Low Light • No Internal Storage
- Large Sensor = Great Depth of Field • Poor Audio from Built in Mic
- Easy Access to Manual Shooting • Poor Anti-Shake
- Higher time lapse potential • No Autofocus when filming
- Built-in Auto Focus • Less Creative Options
- Great Antishake • Generally Smaller Sensor
- Better Built-In Mic • Manual Shooting (if available) is buried
- Internal Storage
- Built in Zoom Potential
- Full-Auto is “Set & Forget”
DSLR videography is like DSLR photography; each shot has to established and composed. Handicams are built to quickly get that shot. If both photo and video are equally important, then you're going to have to make a tough choice. Plain and simple, we don't yet have a machine that does both extremely well.
Gear is gear. A better camera is not going to give you better video. What will though, is a solid understanding light, sound, and how to operate all the features of your current camera. I've learned everything I know from online tutorials. Lynda.com = my digital savant.
Who's Your Star?
A big turning point in my content was when I heard this gem: “People connect with people, not places”. It shook my foundation.
We connect with characters on a journey. Deciding who those characters are, and what their journey is going to be, is one of the most important steps in creating a successful video.
If you're pulse just quickened, relax. If you're familiar with my work, it's not hard to tell who I often choose to tell the story. I recommend travel bloggers consider making themselves the star from time to time. It allows your audience to put a face behind the name, and helps you build a more genuine relationship with your readers.
Talking on camera is tough, but think about it this way: It's not hard to dance to your favourite song.
To clarify the metaphor: Film things you are genuinely interested in. Passion is contagious. Just like a dancer or musician, if you are enthusiastic about what you do, the masses will be too. If you really feel a landmark is underwhelming, then why bother? Develop your story around nature, history, tequila… whatever you love. Show the world why they should love it too.
Note: The beauty of editing is that people don't see the work it took to get it right. My personal “best” is 23 takes, what's yours?
Travel television is planned, and the best travel videos are planned.
We all aspire for a TV show, a pro-blogging gig, or a million hits on youtube. Why wouldn't you try your best to make the most effective content possible? Planning is never wasted. I'm well aware that “The Road” is capable of dealing you a tough hand. Trains can be delayed, weather can be terrible, highlights can pop up any second. But the unpredictable nature of travel shouldn't stop you from planning. One of the best things you can start doing is create an “Idea Catcher”.
It can be a little black book, or it can be a document in the cloud. Keep track of shot & editing ideas, quotes, cool expressions, funny concepts, etc. Also, using it to record what shots you have, and what shots you might need helps a lot on Day 2, as well as when you return home to edit. Creating a well of resources makes life so much easier.
To finish off today's article, I'd like to share something we all wish we knew from the beginning.