So what makes a super awesome travel video? When you boil it down, it’s all about the story that you tell. We connect with people and characters that are on a journey. Deciding how you take someone through that journey, the characters themselves, and the story arch is critical to take your video to the next level and possibly even land you that red carpet spot on the upcoming travelcuts Travel Docs Film Fest. So what do you need to take into consideration when you’re recording your adventures?
A Little Inspiration
There are a lot of amazing travel videos out there and what I always tell people is that there’s no harm in doing a little research to see what kind of formulas work to make a great film. The more you watch, the more you’ll see a trend for what works and what doesn’t.
When I first started, I didn’t know about all the ways you could tell a travel story through video but as I became more familiar with the medium, I started to piece it all together. Eventually I took everything I learned and moulded my film style from there.
If you’re looking for a place to start, I recommend you check out the travelcuts YouTube page which has some great entries from last year’s film fest.
Ways To Tell Your Story
From my experience so far, there are a number of effective ways to create a travel video.
- Travel Guide – These are less so about your own experience and personal updates but more about helping others travel to a particular destination. Think “Guide to Toronto” or “Top 10 Things To Do in Bali”. There are typically many speaking shots.
- Niche Videos – These are the type of videos where you focus on particular topic. Do you want to focus on adventure activities or perhaps just food?
- Vlog – These are personal videos where you let your viewers into your world and give a first hand account of what you’re experiencing. They’re meant to be natural and off-the-cuff. Think selfie style videos.
- Montage – There typically aren’t a lot of speaking parts in this type of video. Instead, the focus is on showing your surroundings and is very much action driven.
- Interview – Interviews are great ways to get perspective and emotion that may not easily come through by watching something unfold.
Beyond these types, you will have full creative license to mix and match things together. You can also think about how you want to present your clips. You can go with something linear or you can group things by theme or topic to convey an idea or emotion.
Planning is Key
Travel videos are about being in the moment and as such there are rarely any d0-overs. This is why you want to have at least thought of what story you’re trying to tell, the type of shots you’ll need, and audio implications.
I’ll give you an example. For my trip to China not too long ago, I knew I wanted to do a video but didn’t have a clue what I was going to put together until about a week before I left. I wanted to tell a story of being able to allow viewers to almost “walk in my shoes” as I explored places like the Terracotta Warriors and Shaolin Temple. It’s then that I realized I could try to do one of those videos where I’m just walking ahead and the background of my surroundings is constantly changing. With that one idea, I had my story and I knew what to film when I was out there.
The bottom line is to try to build a skeleton outline of your video even if it’s conceptual so that when you’re on the road you’ll remember what to capture.
Emotion Through Music
One of the big driving forces of story telling is the music that is threaded throughout a video. Music is what sets the rhythm and emotional tone. Is it upbeat? Is it serious? Is it sad? A lot can be inferred through the soundtrack that you lay down so you want to make sure you are deliberate in what you choose. Music is the supporting cast to the video that will often make or break your creation.
Tell Small Stories
Studies have shown that you only have 9 seconds to capture an audience’s attention. Knowing that you’re working in a world of short attention spans, you’ll want to make sure you keep your video as concise as possible and that you entice your viewers right away.
During the post-production there’ll be the temptation to cram as much in as possible but you’ll soon realize that anything that doesn’t help progress your narrative or story is excess and needs to be trimmed. You should always be asking yourself, “does this have relevance to the narrative of my video?”
Keeping things short and digestible means that you’ll be able to keep a viewer’s focus long enough to watch it all the way through without hitting the next button or browsing away.
Your Chance To Win $5,000
Are you travelling this summer? Don’t forget to whip out your phone, GoPro, or camera and don’t forget to capture the moment. You never know, you may end up being a finalist at the travelcuts film fest with a chance to win a $5,000 travel voucher.
Submissions will be taken between August 18 and September 15, 2016 so there’s plenty of time to get yours in.
- Reminder that the video submissions open Aug 18 and close Sept 15
- travelcuts TRAVEL DOCS FILM FEST will be taking place October 6 at BrainStation – 460 King St. W. in Toronto
- Videos should be 2 mins in length. Anything less than 1:30 will be disqualified and anything longer than 3:00 will be disqualified.
- Ideally, videos will be 1080p and H.264 MP4 (best quality and most compatibility). Not putting a strict requirement on this, but if a video is too low quality, it won’t be able to qualify as a finalist.
- Entrants will be required to upload their videos to YouTube.
- Entrants must be Canadian (excluding QC) and must be 18+ **but in order to attend the event, they will need to be 19+ as of October 6, 2016.
- All music used in videos MUST be appropriately licensed. Strongly encourage users to use only public domain content or original pieces. If videos do use copyrighted music, we need to be provided with proof the user has licensed the song. (More info: https://vimeo.com/help/faq/legal-stuff/fair-use & http://www.reelseo.com/copyrighted-music-in-video/ <= This website provides lots of resources for copyright-free music.)
Good luck everyone!