Today, we have a special guest article from Thomas Alex Norman – Travel Filmmaker & Founder, Lifestylefilmblog.com. In this article, Thomas goes in-depth on his philosophy, strategy and tactics for creating next-level travel videos.
Ever been away travelling and wished you had a beautiful video to sum it all up?
That you could look back on fondly every once in a while…
That you could even share with whoever you wanted…
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve dedicated the last 2 years to perfecting and teaching this skill-set, and in this article you’ll learn the foundations of how to make your own (really, really good) travel videos.
And I’m not here to give you generic, obvious, boring tips that you already know about.
You’re going to be learning from a unique angle here and leaving from this article thinking differently.
The Evolution of Travel Videos
We’re now able to capture our memories and share them with the world thanks to the amazing new technology that’s available to us.
For years this has been progressing beyond photos and into video, as people are able to bring their video cameras on the most daring adventures they want, and capture it all.
This means the traditional photo-memories have lost some of their appeal, and frankly aren’t cutting it anymore.
So everyone’s gone out there and are buying or have bought video cameras — GoPro’s, DSLR’s, camcorders, 4K-capable-smart-phones, even drones…
But the problem is that most people have no idea how to make a video in the first place. And this causes two problems:
1) They don’t film with the editing or entire picture of the video in mind (so the shots are rubbish, don’t work, and don’t have a purpose).
2) They have no idea how to enjoyably, effectively and quickly go through their hours of (rubbish) footage and make something watchable out of it.
I know you’re an experienced video maker — that’s why you’re here on Matt’s awesome website. You know that these problems are something that don’t affect you.
Travel Videos As a Route To More Video Production Work
So we’re going to be covering how experienced and expert video-makers like yourself can use your existing knowledge to make an amazing travel video of your next adventure.
Something that will interest you, is that not only are travel videos a great way to capture and share you memories…
…but are also fantastic vehicles to showcase your filmmaking abilities to your prospects and clients in a really fun, personal, and engaging way.
Personally I’ve had a lot of interest in my video production abilities because of the travel videos I’ve made.
I’ve had people pay for my flights, accommodation, and expenses in exchange for fun travel related video projects.
I’ve also had multiple inquires from much bigger paying corporate projects because of my YouTube presence (which is mostly fuelled by travel videos).
So if you do this right it, not only are you forever freezing the moment where little Timmy hiked his first mountain, or when big Jimmy bellyflopped off a cliff…
But you are also working on and developing a potentially big ROI for your video production business.
So, how can you polish up your travel filmmaking skills?
Let’s have a watch of the sort of video you can look to produce:
Had a great time making that one.
Onto the How-To…
Tip 1 – Capture ‘Moments’
This is the first thing I say to anyone starting to make travel videos.
You should focus on capturing ‘moments.’
That means rather than paying too much attention to the shot type (wide, medium, CU, etc), you should focus more on shot timings.
After all, it’s what is happening that is important – so you should attempt to sum up an experience in just a few key ‘moment orientated’ shots.
This is a technique that the best documentary filmmakers use, that is really simple to apply to your travel videos.
Let me give you an example to properly explain this.
You’re having a BBQ. The sun’s shining, and your buddy is cooking up a nice bit of steak.
The rest of your friends or family are chatting at the table behind him with drinks.
Now, every now and then, your buddy turns around and chats to the people at the table, whilst cooking the steak.
This is the moment you aim to capture. Not him focusing on cooking, not the friends waiting patiently at the table — but the moment where everything comes together to sum up the experience and capture the good vibes in the moment.
So you wait for that moment, and perhaps choose to focus on the steak, and pan up to your buddy’s face just as he turns round and laughs at a joke told at the table. BAM. Perfect, real moment captured.
Rinse and repeat in a bunch of different situations, and pair this up with micro-narratives and you’ll have the foundations of an amazing video.
Photo credit: Thomas Alex Norman
Tip 2 – Get In On The Action
Building on this ‘moment’ based approach to filmmaking, the next thing you should do is get as close to the action as possible.
I get it — it’s easy to use your experience and focus on those beautiful landscape and culture shots.
Don’t get me wrong — wide shots definitely have their place, and I assume you’ll be getting them anyway so won’t focus on the details of how to get those here.
But what I do want to emphasise is that you need to develop a vlogger/YTber type social filmmaking skill-set to capture the raw emotion and in-the-action shots of your experiences.
Basically, two things here:
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO POINT THE CAMERA RIGHT IN SOMEONE’S FACE
- Get tonnes of action shots – POV or somehow involved.
This can be uncomfortable at first but will get you ending up with a way better, more relatable and more personal video.
The way to get round the apparent awkwardness surrounding this (and most things in life actually [lol]) is just open communication.
Just let your friends and family know that you’re gonna be making a travel video and that they might end up with a camera in their face.
If you also explain your vision to them (like a good director should), then they’ll not only be just ‘ok’ with this, but they’ll also be excited to actively help you out and act as good little movie stars.
As for 2), I use my GoPro to get most of my action shots. Strap it to your chest or hold it on a stick and you have the basic set up to get any action shot you want. Whether you’re cliff jumping or rock climbing or even skydiving you know you can capture it.
If you’re capturing someone else in the action, try and get involved in it using movement. For example is you’re filming good old Jimmy belling flopping off a cliff…
…as he takes a run up, run with him getting an over the shoulder shot. This involves the audience in the action and is so much more effective than just a boring wide.
Tip 3 – Do MORE
You can make the best, most slickly executed video possible – but it’s always the video that has the most exciting stuff happening within it that will win out.
You will find that filmmaking gives you an amazing motivation and incentive to push your comfort zone and do more than you thought you would.
Just because you want to make an incredible video, suddenly you’re motivated to go hang-gliding or on a big adventure, or just interact with the local culture more.
For example – in this video, rather than just stay in the (really) nice villa we had – I went kitesurfing, took a boat to morocco for a day, played sitar with some old moroccan dudes and rode a camel… mainly because I had the video in mind:
So that’s it! Those are the key basics to making exciting and engaging travel videos.
Now… if you want to get started, I’m guessing you’ll want to know what camera is best.
I currently use a pretty cheap SLR – the Canon 550D (currently upgraded to 700D I believe) – to do my travel video filmmaking.
I also use a bunch of other cameras and gear that would take too long to explain here – so I’ve actually made the ultimate Travel Video Gear List that I’ll send over to you for free – just go to this link here.
And if you can’t wait to get started and want to learn more about how to do this right away – I have a 3 day online Travel Video Bootcamp that you can find out more about here.
Keep filming and have a great day.
Inspired to jump into travel filmmaking? Let us know in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this post with friends and colleagues who you think might benefit. This can be life-changing!