A trio of globetrotters recently trimmed down 44 days of travel into three one-minute films. A lot of talent, creativity and technology went into making these videos. You won’t get the same results by shooting videos on your mobile phone and editing them on your tablet, but these films can serve as inspiration and teach you a thing or two.
Take a few minutes to watch the below videos and read over a few tips to learn how to improve your own videos.
The Inspiration: Move, Learn, Eat
Rick Mereki, Tim White and Andrew Lees traveled the globe for 44 days, flew 38,000 miles, visited 11 countries and recorded 1TB of data. That’s a lot of work to create three short pieces, but well worth it judging from the results below.
From the video quality, the three travelers appear to have used DSLRs or high-grade video cameras. They teamed up with others on the editing, color correction and audio.
Move shows Rick Meriki walking. That’s not too interesting in itself, but the composition of the shots and the editing make the video a pleasure to watch.
In Learn we see the trio didn’t simply see the sights, but took classes and immersed themselves in several cultures.
The third video, Eat, is all about the travelers’ food and drink experiences. There’s a bit of advanced editing at the beginning that is difficult for the average home videographer to replicate.
How to Make Your own Movies Better
Rick Mereki and his team have a lot of talent, but many of their techniques can be borrowed by novice movie makers. You can get great results out of just about any video camera, point-and-shoot DSLR, iPhone or other smartphone if you follow the tips below.
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to shoot thousands of photos and hours of video. But shooting all those gigabytes of images and videos won’t do you much good if your friends and family can’t enjoy them. We’ve all sat through painful home movies and slideshows. Instead of boring your friends and family by showing your video clips in their entirety: entertain them.
Above is a video that I shot of my son enjoying his first fireworks show on the 4th of July. It isn’t nearly as good what Rick Mereki put together, but it is a heck of a lot better than most home movies I’ve produced or watched. You can read more about how I put this video together by clicking here.
1) What’s the Story?
Before you even go on vacation or attend an event, think abou the story you want to share. Are there themes you can focus on, or scenes that you might be able to string together? One thing that makes the above movies great is that each has a clear focus. By concentrating on shots that fit into your story, you’ll avoid wasting time shooting extraneous photos and video.
2) Shoot and Show Shorter Clips
If you pay attention to your favorite TV shows and movies you’ll note that you rarely see the same camera angle for more than a few seconds at a time. Our brains can process visual information incredibly quickly and we get bored just as fast. The videos above are extreme examples, but the experience is conveyed just the same.
For example, there’s no need to shoot an entire hour of your kid’s soccer game. Put together a list of shots that will tell the story and focus on shooting them. Shots of him lacing up his cleats, running laps to warm up, practicing free kicks, throwing the ball in from the sidelines and interacting with his teammates would be a good start.
Try shooting clips no longer than 30 seconds. Edit longer clips down to shorter lengths.
3) Stabilize the Camera
Nobody likes watching shaky videos, but everyone seems to shoot them. A tripod is the best investment you can make if you want to shoot better video. If you don’t want to lug around a heavy tripod you can opt for a Gorilla Pod, Monopod or other lightweight solution.
One great solution for those with small cameras is the Manfrotto 560B, a monopod with small feet that stabilize the camera and even let you jump in your own shots. It’s my favorite monopod and one I have carried on many trips. It’s strong enough to fully support a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone without keeping a hand on it.
Use what you’ve got if you don’t have a tripod or other device handy. A table, bench or the back of a chair can all serve as stable shooting surfaces If all else fails, adopt a good shooting stance. That means sit or stand in a comfortable position with your elbows braced against your torso and your camera as close to you as possible. Whatever you do, don’t hold your camera out with your arms extended.
4) Think About Audio
The only thing worse than shaky video is horrible audio. It can be very difficult to record decent audio while traveling, especially in crowded environments. Speaking over your videos as you record them is generally a bad idea as it distracts from what you’re shooting and limits how you can edit later on. It’s awkward to cut away from a scene while your voice is mid-sentence.
Music serves as the background audio in the above videos, with sound recorded at some of the locations serving as accents.
5) Shoot More Than You Need
Rick Mereki and his team shot almost a Terabyte of data for this project. That might sound like a lot, but that’s actually less than 24GB per day of their whirlwind vacation. HD video clips take up a ton of storage capacity, so stock up on SD cards or dump your footage onto your computer frequently.
It’s easy to whittle down dozens of short clips of your vacation or special event into a home movie. It’s impossible to recreate those moments.
6) Get to Know Your Editor
Most computers come with a video editor of some kind. Decent ones can be had for less than $100, such as Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio HD. Mac owners don’t need anything more than iMovie, which comes bundled on every new mac.
Applications like iMovie and Vegas are capable of producing great movies and have more than enough capabilities for just about everyone. Spend a few hours learning how to use your movie editor BEFORE you shoot your next movie and you’ll be much more comfortable using it with your special footage.
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