Travel has truly gone viral in the age of social media, and with equipment available to capture travel videos, right from amazing mobile phones, action cameras, drones, to the lighter and more compact DSLRs, it's the boom for travel videos. Only pictures are no longer enough to hold the viewer, and it becomes apparent that one may want to explore further. So what are the checklists for making a good travel video? Let's start from the basics.
When we plan for a trip, a bit of research adds to the kinds of places and experiences you are likely to encounter. Planning an itinerary is also ideal. Pre-production in any video production is its most important part. You can't just shoot anything and make a video. This is where research and detailed itinerary will introduce you to the possibilities of the place. You can also YouTube for the videos that already exist from the place.
Plan a Story
After you have researched, it is time to plan a story – whether you do it in your head or on paper is up to you. Ideally, putting the notes on paper helps in improving them later, and referring to them whenever in doubt. The simplest way of telling a travel story is to follow the formula of beginning, middle, and end. The beginning needs to invoke an interest in the people. If there's nothing out-of-the-box, you can simply start from the introduction shots of the places and how you got there. A quick recap of all the video or a montage of some of the shots provides for an enticing experience for the viewers. In case you are telling about a particular travel story – you can go further by introducing the theme, treating it to be a short film production.
The middle is the meatier part of the video where you fill the frame with details – in vivid colors or rawness, as the story demands. What was introduced in the beginning grows in the middle, and then culminates in a logical conclusion towards the end.
The DSLR Kit
If you have the capacity to carry, there's nothing like a DSLR with the whole gamut of required lenses and accessories, including plenty of memory cards and batteries. DSLRs, even to date, provide the best possible cinematic quality, especially a full-frame DSLR – unless you use the RED cameras and so on. The full frame sensors allow better dynamic range to and amazing low-light performance. Apart from creating stunning videos, they can be used to create jaw-dropping hyper-lapse and time-lapse because of the scope of the medium. Also, star-trails time-lapse are possible mostly via DSLR only.
The most important travel lenses are wide-angle lenses like Rokinon fish-eye 14mm, Canon 16-35mm, and so on. The wider range allows you to capture more of the scene, and environment. If your travel includes stories with people, 50mm and 85mm are two focal lengths that are just perfect to work with people. Apart from that is the wildlife requirement – 300mm and above. The lenses will depend on the requirement of your travel video, and it is possible to do with just one versatile lens if you are backpacking, such as 24-105mm, which is both wide and telephoto enough.
The additional important equipment for travel videos are a travel tripod. It can help in straightening and leveling horizons, while also providing with panning movements. Tripod is mostly optional, and you can do a handheld job as well most of the times if weight is an issue. For star trails, you can't shoot without a tripod at all. If you are doing DSLR videos, expect the batteries to run out very quickly, and cards to fill out fast. You need to have plenty of backup, or a means to keep charging batteries and transferring data – which isn't always possible while traveling. A gimbal – mechanical or electronic, can help in providing movement shots smoothly, but are again dependent on the amount of equipment you can carry and how you are traveling.
The new range of mirrorless and DSLTs provide a comparable or even better quality in some cases while the weight of the camera is much lower. If you don't have the easy access to space, you can go for some of the new mirrorless cameras that provide excellent video quality and dynamic range despite being half in size.
Drones have taken over the travel video world, with most of the travel videos having a considerable footage of drone. With drones, you need to know of the permission access before itself, while also being adept at flying drones. It can land you in trouble if you don't have flying license and requisite permission. Drone video can provide an aerial view of the places and can take travel videos to another level – providing the ideal filler shots. Drones are also good in shooting movement shots that are usually shot with a gimbal.
Action cameras like GoPro are a rage because of the ability to shoot action. They are small, and are the easiest ways to shoot underwater, because DSLR's underwater cage is far costlier. They can also be mounted on bikes, car dashboards, helmets, arms, etc, and can record data consistently providing the point of view that isn't available with other cameras. The portability is a factor that allows them to be taken anywhere, and a gimbal for action camera is also small and portable, while providing the same fluidity of motion as a DSLR and gimbal combination will provide.
A microphone is another handy tool that can be combined with smartphone, action camera, or DSLR (check product specifications) to record sounds as well as interviews and live audio. A travel video requires a story to be told, and all the tools that modern day technology provides can even be used in combination to showcase your vision. You can even use smartphones
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