The Makings of a Travel Video

 Assembling Videos

Assembling Videos

It's quite possible that in the next couple of months, I'll be approached by online strangers wanting to know the inside scoop on the World Traveler Internship. I know this will happen because I did the exact same thing for the last two years. And though I've tried to describe the application process to those interested - offering a few tips for standing out from the crowd - people may still wonder how they should tackle the less intuitive art of video-making that is crucial for this position.

I didn't study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you're new at this, like I was, don't worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos.

The Software

If you work on a PC, chances are you have Windows Movie Maker, which can also be downloaded for free online. Allow yourself some time to get comfortable with this program by throwing together mini-videos and utilizing effects such as titles, transition and audio to get your blood pumping. Don't be lazy and press Auto Movie, and there's no substitute for just throwing yourself into the program; it's the fastest way to learn.

For those lucky ones with Macs, iMovie is the included video editing software that doesn't require a big learning curve for newbies. Also take your time in investigating this software and its capabilities by making short videos, and don't forget to utilize the online tutorials from Apple. iMovie 09 has quite a bit more to manipulate than its previous generation of 08, and iMovie HD is quite a different set-up as well. Get comfy...then get cracking.

Steer Clear of Slideshows

Some of your first creations may be more like slideshows than travel videos. Though I value the static visual quality of photographs in a video, you have to keep in mind why you're using this medium: to display motion and create a specific mood or impression with the entire compilation. In the three years I've been at this, I've thankfully learned this lesson, because videos like the following are a lot like making your friends and family suffer through a slow playback of each painful slide taken on your holiday.

Options for Beginning a Video

Hopefully you will begin to regard video-making as an art form, one you take seriously enough to hone a personal style and technique. In order to find the most conducive method to starting each new video, try these options out:

  • Write out the purpose of each video, identifying who will watch it and for how long you think their attention will last.

  • Take a look at all of your video footage, photographs, audio clips, etc. and decide on the most descriptive or entertaining morsels from your trip. If you're using Windows Movie Maker, just upload the best raw material into your work space on the program. If using iMovie, peruse the footage and use the favorite selection button with the star. Pulling the good stuff aside at the beginning could speed up the actual assembly of the video and allow you to see what crucial material needs to be included.

  • Start with a song (this is my method). Once I know what destination or experience I'm documenting and possibly the mood I want to exhibit, I browse my music to find something people would love to listen to that also has a great introduction. When I know the flow of the first ten seconds of audio, I then know how I will incorporate my video's title or introduction. I prefer to use one song instead of layering different music from (gasp) various genres. Use the climaxes, tempo changes, and character of the song(s) to your advantage in manipulating the emotions of the viewer. Make your choice of soundtrack appear deliberate.

Using Effects to your Advantage

 Editing a video

Editing a video

I struggle with the following concept every time I sit down to a new video: Know when to use simplicity and when to use pizzazz

Applying ten different types of transitions to the same video is like saying "Look what I can do!" and showing how many ways your computer program can shift from one clip or photo to another. Decide upon a couple transitions you can use that tie into the mood or theme of your video and stick with them. When making a video on ziplining, I used the transition that slides the previous clip to the left in order to accentuate that act of shooting across the line.

When making a destination video of India, it was all about over-stimulation - to replicate my impression of the country. I used a flashy title, dream-like filters, harsh light effects, muted colors, half speed and double speed shots, and just about every polar-opposite effects iMovie 09 allowed. I left transitions abrupt to give the video SOME semblance of continuity, and the final product was very reflective of my actual experience, thanks to using the editing tools in the right manner.

Crafting a Story

Another technique I use in the assembly line is to throw all my quality material in the "pot" and begin lining the clips up in order and adding effects/transitions as I go. At one point, you'll have to step back and evaluate the story that is being created. Are you using your best material at the end and building the tension throughout the video's length? Are you making a statement at the beginning and supporting it with the remaining time?

In my opinion, destination videos should be statements from the start that are supported and strengthened as someone continues to watch its entirety.

Travel experiences need a slow build-up to the climax; however, pulling a Memento by using reverse (or scattered) chronological order could amplify the story and all its elements.

Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.

When it came to the creation of my application video, I formed it into a résumé.

0:00 - 0:04 Establish my name 0:04 - 0:11 Give people a reason to take me seriously 0:11 - 0:23 Flash back to last year's application video, accentuating my drive and familiarity with the program 0:23 - 1:00 Prove I already do this job well; there's no gamble in choosing me 1:00 - 1:12 Travel Experience 1:12 - 1:34 Skills and Interests 1:34 - 2:06 Competence and Entertainment 2:06 - 2:27 Reiterate previous points to stall for musical climax 2:27 - 2:50 Crowd appeal, entertainment, humor 2:50 - 3:21 Lasting impression of why I'm different from the rest (This is a specific type of video, but it shows how I crafted years of travel and talking shots into a cohesive unit with a universal, entertaining storyline.)

The Art of Detail

Once your video forms into a solid story with great visuals, come back through with the figurative X-Acto-knife and make sure all cuts are perfect. Make sure no syllables are cut off spoken words. Be sure that transitions don't reveal unwanted visuals or audio. If you timed your content to match your soundtrack, double check that every clip is synced perfectly. It's human nature to focus on the imperfections of an otherwise fantastic piece, so leave nothing to distract your viewers from all your hard work.

Testing for Success

If you're posting a video with music that isn't your own, test its copyright eligibility by making a private Youtube account that lacks any search terms that would identify what you're creating (for instance: I posted my application videos before the fact under the terms Raven Simone and Gaming as to not attract those searching for WTI or my videos). If you're music puts up the red flag and gets taken down, that's certainly going to be a problem for you if your video is a submission for a contest. Re-do!

 video

video

Is your video really as good as you think it is? Let people who know you and people that don't take a gander at your work before you publish it mainstream. If family members love it and strangers don't, it lacks the adequate information that hooks people into what you're showing them. Give people a reason to listen to your work from the start. Family already have a reason to be engaged in what you create. If both family and strangers find it compelling and worth a second or third view, you know you've created something stimulating that exhibits skills that get people thinking. And of course, if no one likes it, it just plain sucks. Don't expect that just because you made a video with movement and audio it means people will like it. Assume everyone has ADD and far too little time to spend looking at your stuff.

Market your Great Content

Stand behind what you made and allow anyone who may be interested to access your creation. Youtube it. Vimeo it. Display it on your website. Of course if your video is for personal purposes, this obviously doesn't apply to you or that video, but be sure you give your hard work its due acknowledgement. It's awful when you spend hours or days on a video only to let it gather dust on a buried blog post. Display it for all to see and tweet about it.

And what about better programs like Final Cut Express and beyond? I'll report on those when I know more about them!

Did this post help you with your video-making needs? Comment below on anything I missed!