How to Create Compelling Videos

When you travel you experience unforgettable moments, witness amazing scenes and meet some unique and friendly people. With video you can easily capture these moments on DSLRs, camcorders, action cameras and even phones.

However simply hitting record on your brand new GoPro or video camera is not going to be enough to properly capture a feeling or experience you had while traveling. To truly relive the moments requires creatively editing your video at the end of your trip.

There is one BIG problem with this. To make an awesome video you need awesome footage! In this article we provide you the necessary tips and tricks to getting creative with your video camera and recording video clips that will produce a fun, engaging and beautiful recount of your journey.

1. Create a Story

When you watch your video 12 months after you come home from your travels (or 12 years after) you want to remember the journey. You won’t want to only remember the time you rode on the elephant in India or bungee jumped in Cape Town. You want to relive the experience. You have a story, record it!

Have a plan in your head that shows the journey

Example

a. Record some packing scenes the night before you leave.
b. Shoot a mini clip of entering the plane.
c. Shoot some footage driving through the street at your destination (Not too much. More on this later)

While having a plan is important, there are other VERY important factors to how and what you shoot while generally adhering to your plan. Keep reading to find out more about these tips.

Storyboard

2. Be Friendly and Polite

It is more than just common courtesy to ask permission if you wish to video anyone. In some countries, you can actually end up in some serious trouble for taking a photo or video without permission.

The best approach is a simple one – start with a smile, say hello (preferably in their local language), be direct and explain why you want to video them, then ask!

If you are using a digital camera it is a good idea to show them the video afterward and thank them for allowing you to shoot.

3. Keep it Steady

This sounds easier than it is! Keeping the camera steady is often hard, especially if you are holding it freehand. Using mounts and tripods are great as these steady shots make your video look super slick and professional. If you don’t have a mount or tripod, simply try holding the camera on top of something solid such as a bench or wall or railing.

When shooting footage while skiing, hold the camera as it rests on the top of your ski pole and pan the camera around. It’s not perfect, but it provides a much steadier base than simply free handing with the camera. If you do have to free hand, keep your hands as steady as possible. Maybe lay off the coffee beforehand.

If you really want to get that cinematic effect, but a gimbal. We use the Feiyu G3 Ultra 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for GoPro.

Feiyu G3
Iphone tripod

4. It’s All About the Angles

This is one of the most important factors in shooting good video for editing later on. It is extremely hard to edit 60 mins of footage that was shot from the same angle. Even when you are changing up the subject of your video footage, shooting from the same angle is boring.

Change it up! Be creative with the camera and record from up high, down low, from an extendable pole, from a head mount, etc.

Surfing with GoPro

5. People are Interesting

They say it’s not about where you are going, but who you are going with. This rings true when you go to re-watch the video of your amazing adventure. An engaging and exciting video has lots of people in it. That means you and the group you are traveling with and the strangers you meet!

Everyone loves watching videos of other people. Especially when they are having fun, laughing and smiling or saying funny things. Nobody wants to watch 10 minutes of scenery, no matter how amazing it is.

Record people smiling, laughing, having fun. Don’t forget to capture funny moments too.

6. Get ‘Filler’ Footage

First of all, what is ‘filler’ footage? Filler footage can easily be described as stock video. There will be certain scenes that you shoot which are integral to the story you are telling. A creative way to transition between these scenes is by using some static scenes as filler.

Examples could include a shot of clouds floating by in the sky, grass blowing in the breeze or the road passing by as taken from through the window of a moving car.

Be creative with the camera it will definitely pay off. Remember, it is easy enough to cull unnecessary footage but impossible to create footage you don’t have after your return.

7. Accessories Can Help

If you have an action camera such as a GoPro, you know all about accessories and what you can buy to mount your camera in different positions. Using as many of these accessories as possible will give you a variety of shooting angles that ultimately makes for a more interesting video… even if you are shooting something which is not very interesting!

Accessories? Who cares!

Accessories are not absolutely required to get good shots. Simply swapping the height that you hold the camera or panning the camera from left to right can create a variance in your shooting angles that provides better quality footage. Stick the camera on the ground facing the sky and have your friends step over the camera. Set the camera on the floor facing down the sidewalk and start walking toward the camera and the walk past it. Each of these shots, although they sound cumbersome and useless actually add to the overall story that you will tell in your video.

Bottom line? Get creative and try new things with your camera! Check videos on YouTube to see what others have done before.

8. Add Commentary

Ever watched a good documentary on the travel channel? The presenter will have a dialogue that helps to educate and entertain the viewer. This storytelling commentary has been somewhat replaced by the rise of the GoPro action video which uses a soundtrack only.

Voice-overs can be added during the editing process as a narration but it is not a bad idea to shoot some speaking scenes at the destination.

Whether you write a basic, researched script or adlib it, here are some ideas on what to talk about:

  • Important, historic facts & figures (accuracy is most important)
  • Interview a local
  • Fun stories from your adventure
  • A narrative explaining what you are/will be doing in the scene

9. Simple Editing Tips

Ok so you’ve followed all of the tips above, created a story and shot all the footage needed. Now comes the tough part…editing.

We’ve put together some of the steps you will need to think about when editing your videos below:

  • Storyboarding = arranging your clips into the sequence you want before adding to timeline (the video doesn’t always need to be in chronological order)
  • Create an intro sequence (start with a bang and have an engaging title)
  • What music will you use? (create a mood, edit on the beat, copyright explanation)
  • Overlay text and graphics to explain facts and figures (people love to feel like they are learning something)
  • Transitions between scenes (break it up with different effects)
  • Consider the length of each clip and of the video as a whole (Don’t use 10 minutes of you walking down a nice street in Barcelona. Instead, use 20 seconds of a nice store front or someone playing guitar in the town square – people get bored easily so keep it precise)
  • When and how to use stock footage
  • Add animations

The editing process can take hours and hours of your time and become a real pain in the ass. So to help you out, we have partnered with the guys at riffreel who are editing experts! Read on to see how they can help you edit your videos.

10. Create Your Video

Arguably the most important part of this entire process is editing your video! After you put all of these tips to good use and record some awesome footage of your recent adventures you will want to create your final video. This process is like writing your autobiography. It is exciting, fun and immensely rewarding. However it is also, extremely time-consuming and a lot of hard work in mastering creative techniques, applying awesome video effects (slow motion, time lapse, fade transitions, etc) and matching the video to the music you choose.

Lots of people enjoy editing, which is why they edit their own videos using software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, iMovie and others.

However, if writing an autobiography doesn’t sound like it is for you and you don’t want to edit your own video, you are in luck! We have started working with an in-house video editor who is an expert in crafting your final video, applying effects, transitions, music and more so all you need to do is record awesome footage! t is super affordable at just

Backpacker Travel Video Editing Service

Backpacker Special

We are offering a specialized travel video editing service for only $75 for a 2 – 3-minute video! As a bonus, if you are a member of Backpacker Travel, you will get a $5 discount.

Final thoughts

You have the camera, you have booked the trip and you are ready to go. Get creative with your camera and use these tips to shoot some great footage. Whether you edit your own video or have us edit it for you, the final product will look awesome after following these steps!