ON MAKING TRAVEL VIDEOS - Paul Tauger
videos, like any video, should have a story arc, i.e. a beginning,
middle and end to each sequence, and overall beginning (arrival?
preparation? research?), middle (you're there) and end (you
leave). What's your attitude about where you went, and does it
come through in the video?
Pick a recurring theme -- whether it's "weird pets we
encountered", or, "expensive art we can't afford", or,
"yet another search for a restroom", etc., and work it into
the final production. Needless to say, this is not something you
can pick ahead of time, so stay alert and shoot LOTS and LOTS of video
as you go.
To accomplish this, you need to shoot B-roll, i.e. background shots to
which you can cut for continuity. You also need POV (point of
view) shots, reaction shots, etc. just like any commercial movie.
Don't rely solely on wide shots. Do close ups and two shots
of the "stars". Find
interesting little details in the environment. Put depth in your
shots by including foreground elements -- don't just shoot beautiful
To the extent that you're able (and it can be difficult with consumer
cameras) vary depth of field, i.e. the background doesn't always have
to be in sharp focus.
Also, it is critical that you concern yourself with pacing. Most
amateur travel video uses shots that are far too long. For
example, the HV20 has a 10-second timer for shots. I hardly ever
use a shot that is more than 4 seconds, and most of them are in the
3-second range. Mix up your shot length, but keep overall pacing
Be selective when you edit. Everything doesn't belong in the
final production. Decide what shots are important, which are
redundant, and which are unnecessary. Only use the important
shots and, once you've selected them, go through them again to weed
out the chaff.
When traveling, people are generally more interesting than scenery.
You're trying to capture the experience of the trip, not a series of
Use music (buy local CDs) to set the mood, establish rhythm, define
DON'T use a bunch of special effects. 99.99% of your transitions
should either be straight dissolves or cuts. However, DO use L-
or J-cuts in which the sound of the previous or subsequent scene is
carried into the shot. (For how to do this, go to -- www.videomaker.com/article/13532.)
Practice good hand-held technique to get the steadiest video possible.
Shaky video looks awful.