Travel filmmaking is not an exception. When I started, I watched many travel videos each week until I became inspired to make my own.
I enjoy watching travel videos. I look at the format, how and why they are shot, how and why they use specific frames, etc. I then go out and experiment, film, and come up with my style.
Vimeo Travel has a lot of inspiring videos about traveling that you can use to learn. They are very active and list their gear and story behind each video. Pick your favorite video and watch it.
If you’re looking for some good examples, I have also compiled a list of the most inspirational travel videos ever made.
Pre-set your camera settings before you go
You don’t want to have to change the picture profile on your camera when you are traveling. This would cause many more headaches, especially when color-correcting in the editing room.
Set the default settings for all modes. For consistent footage, avoid changing settings that could affect your footage.
The two memory buttons on my Sony A7C are set to 4K at 25fps, with picture profile 6 for general footage (Cine2, Color Mode), and 1080p at 120fps, with the same profile for slow motion shots, so I can switch easily between the two modes, depending on what I need.
Please find the best settings for your camera and use them throughout the trip.
It is important to shoot as much footage as possible. When you return home and edit, you wish you had much more material. However, there is a fine line between overshooting and not shooting enough. Remember to take in the sights and sounds of the country you visit.
I usually dedicate a time block to shooting videos when the light is best, typically in the morning or at sunset. So I get the best footage possible from the place and still have the entire day to explore.
Create a Story
It isn’t easy, and I’ve struggled with it because traveling is unplanned and spontaneous. To tell a good story, we must carefully plan and extensively research.
It would be best if you were prepared for the spontaneity and chaos of travel. This is why you should always have your camera and take as many pictures as possible.
You need to have enough material to create a story out of chaos. After a trip, for example, I would go through all my footage individually and try to find a thread that could be woven into a narrative.
You don’t need to make it look like a Spielberg film. Just create a story that fits your footage and country. This will ensure that your viewers are interested in your videos and watch them to the end.
My Daydreams In The Philippines video is a great example. I shot it unplanned and spontaneously but was able to come up with an engaging story for the viewers.
The video began in Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines. It then cut to a woman in a jeepney, closing her eyes, and then to the various footage I took in the country. They were woven together throughout the video until the woman finally opened her eyes, realizing she was daydreaming.
Make it More About the Country and Less About You
Travel videos today focus on the filmmakers and how extraordinary their lives are. This is not what they are all about. Travel videos should tell a story showing the scenery, locals, food, etc. Not a place to showcase your life.
Film fewer videos about the parties you attended in a foreign country but more about the place’s people, architecture, and history. Then weave all these together to create a compelling story that inspires others to do the same.
Diversify your shots
Travel videos need the luxury to tell a story or have an excellent structure to engage an audience. It is, therefore, essential to experiment with different ways of shooting videos to keep them interested.
Shoot from worm’s eyes, slow spinning shots, or different angles. In Europe, I would wrap the camera strap around my waist, tilt it up, and slowly spin my body to capture the smooth motion. In my Russia Video, you can see an excellent example at the 1:22 mark.
Travel photography differs from videography in that you can capture most of the architecture and energy of a place with photos, but videos lack motion and cannot do the same.
There are many ways to create motion. You can create your sign using a simple camera move like panning. Or you can use time-lapses to breathe life into a static landscape or building.
Hyperlapse is one of my favorite techniques (a moving time-lapse). Most tutorials teach you to use a tripod, but nobody has time. So I shot each photo with my foot and moved it.
Then I compile them into a video and stabilize it with Adobe Premiere Pro. You can learn to do this yourself by viewing this YouTube tutorial.
Take Close-Up Photos of Locals
Nothing can evoke more human emotion than someone staring intently at your camera. Humans interact with one another every day. We laugh, love, and cry together, so we can use that emotion in your travel video to evoke strong emotions from your viewers.
I was filming a local video in Russia when she noticed me and stared intensely at the camera. The audience becomes more intense as the music intensifies. This is because they realize the woman is staring directly at them.
If you can meet a local while on vacation, ask them to film you for your film. Keep the camera running even after you think you’ve captured the shot. The most authentic reaction is when the subject feels relieved after the shoot.