Guide To Making Your Own Travel Movies

Bring Your Travel Memories To Life By Making Your Own Travel Movies

Have you ever watched a travel documentary and thought to yourself, “Oh I would absolutely love to do that!”?

Yeah, I know the feeling. In fact, I think the first time I ever experienced the Wanderlust that shaped my life was watching Michael Palin’s “Around The World in 80 Days”. The genius of that show was it’s utter simplicity, they simply got an affable Englishmen (and there are a lot of us) and filmed him doing pretty normal things in exotic parts of the world such as sleeping in one of Tokyo’s micro-hotel-pods and drinking tea on the Orient Express.

These days, YouTube has blown the door hinges right of the industry allowing everybody the chance to be the star in their own travel channel. No longer do you need the backing of the BBC and ABC in order to be a superstar travel presenter, you just need a Wi-Fi connection and a computer.

And yeah, on a quite a few occasions the idea has occurred to me to make a little travelogue of my experiences (although I may have to add subtitles to help American audiences understand my Northern British brogue). Not for stardom or for any kind of mass consumption but purely to for myself, for my friends and family and for my (unborn) children…

But there is a problem…

Editing movies together is damned hard. I remember trying it one time at college for a media project and man, it was tiresome.

Or at least that used to be the case…

Michael Palin in his prime

Everything Is Getting Easier

Because technology is moving fast and making everything so much easier including the creative arts. Just in the same way Garage Band has allowed pretty much everybody to put a Hip-Hop beat down, the new generation of Movie Editing Software is making film editing more and more accessible.

Movie Editing software has come a long way and there is quite a lot out there. Most Devices these days come with some kind of free editing software such as Windows Movie Maker and these are OK to get started with but, as expected from a freebie, they are rather limited in their scope.

If you are even half serious about making your own little travel films then it is worth investing a bit of cash and buying yourself some decent software.

Movavi Video Editor

In my opinion, the most interesting and accessible Movie Editing software on the market today is Movavi.

Although it is a paid for program, ($19.95), the developers will let you download a free seven-day trial version to play with. This should give you enough time to explore its features and decide if it’s for you. Can’t say any fairer than that right? You can try the trial version for yourself by downloading it from their site.

How Does It Work?

I am a total newbie to film editing but even I was able to get to grips with the basics within a few hours.

To get started, you need to import some media to work with. The software is very flexible and allows you to import video, photos, and audio stored on my computer or external drives. You can also gain access to your computer’s built-in camera and start recording straight from within the application – this feature is great for YouTubers or people who want to do some kind of “To camera” presentation but I haven’t used it myself yet.

Once you have loaded your clips you can begin editing them together. Editing clips is very simple and intuitive – you can trim their “In” or “Out” points by simply clicking and dragging the edges inwards. In case you change your mind and want to re-extend the clip, then you simply drag it back.

Cutting between various files is also easy allowing you to cut from that sweeping panorama of Marrakech city to a close up of you eating a kebab at the night market seamlessly. You simply line the scenes you want up next to each other by dragging them into the order you want.

Obviously, you can then play with the lighting, you can add background music or voice overs and all the other stuff you need t make your own little travel documentary all at the click of a button.

Movavi

Tutorials

Some people learn best by simply rolling up their sleeves and figuring stuff out for themselves. However, if like me, you welcome a little bit of guidance to get you started then there quite a lot of “How To” tutorials up on the Movavi site which will take you through the key features step by step. Once you have these core fundamentals nailed then you can start to experiment for yourself.

Support

Because it is a paid for product, the support you get from the developers is top notch. If you are experiencing technical issues then they are on hand pretty much 24/7 and will get back to you with a resolution in an expedient manner.

I am not saying that Movavi is the best Movie Editing Software on the market because it probably isn’t. If you are after a professional or even semi-pro spec then there are other places to go. However, if you are like me, new to movie editing and need something affordable, functional and easy to get your head around then I recommend it.

Who Can and Should Use Movavi?

Bloggers

In 2019 there are way too many travel blogs and that’s a fact. For example, between myself and Will (AKA The Broke Backpacker), we now own about 10 different travel blogs. With so many blogs online it’s getting harder and harder to stand out.

One really powerful way to make your blog stand out from the rest is to feature your own kick-ass movies which really bring a destination to life. I do have mixed feelings about this. I am a writer, writing is my calling and my only real talent. I am also a reader. My value (human capital) is my perception on its place and my perception on a destination is not necessarily the same as my iPhone 6’s perception of it. The iPhone cannot communicate how the place makes me feel or my reflections on it…

But on the other hand, the fact is that nothing else can inspire wanderlust and bring a destination to live quickly to a large number of people like a sweeping panorama.

According to Legend, Helen of Troy had the face that launched a 1000 ships. Not a single word is said about her personality which tells me that yep, people are primarily visual beings. They love pictures but my God do they love movies even more.

You!

Yes, Regular Travellers like you should think about trying this.

The chances are that you are not old enough to remember been summoned round to your mate’s house to share a bottle of wine and watch his projector slideshow of the shots he took in Rome last summer. But yes, I swear that people actually used to do that. Then came the disposable cameras, digital cameras and finally Smartphones which instantly upload everything to Facebook and Instagram.

But all these suck. Nobody looks at your Instagram and furthermore, once you upload it you cease to own it. Instagram own it, they can do what the hell they want with it including totally delete it forever (believe me, this does happen).

So, what you should do instead if make little travelogues, road movies or simply photographic montages of your trip. It will amaze your friends, preserve your memories forever in a meaningful way and will utilize all of that latent abundant well of creative energy which I know and you know is inside every single one of you.

Top Tips For Making Your Own Travel Movies!

Light and Noise

You may not appreciate this but light and sound totally make a film. Any film. They are the subtle building blocks of any feature film whereas its a YouTube travel documentary about Wine Making or Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner. They dictate mood and ambiance far more than even narrative does.

For detailed tips about working with light and background sound, check this out.

Gear

Firstly, you will need a decent(ish) camera. As a minimum, I suggest a fairly modern Smartphone. I currently use a Samsung. Its camera capabilities are decent. Prior to that I used an iPhone 5 and wouldn’t really be confident using it to shoot movies.

If your budget allows it, you may also wish to augment this with a Go-Pro as they are awesome for “long shots”. If you want to check out more cameras for travelling then take a look here.

Don’t Overthink It

Just shoot from the hip. With practice you will get pretty good at simply improvising and getting things right first time, Remember, you don’t need an impeccable perfect shot – leave that to the professionals. If a local photobombs you then great, capturing the reality and day to day life of a destination is what it’s all about.

Shoot What Interests You

Okay so the Eiffel Tower in Paris is the city’s most famous landmark and you may feel you, therefore “should” shoot it. But does it actually interest you all that much? Does it actually interest anybody that much anymore? I would say not.

Instead, you should find your own scene be it, the street singers of Montmartre or the Hip Hop Dancers of the African Corner near Plaisance. It will be far more engaging and inspiring that way.
Paris in Winter

photo credits: parisperfect.com

Safety

Ok, guys so a word on safety. Walking around strange, unfamiliar streets with your camera out may not always be a good idea. Furthermore, getting fully absorbed and “in the zone” or shooting can make you semi-oblivious to your surroundings and make you a target.

Wherever possible, always go with a friend and have them keep a lookout for any suspicious characters. Also, accept that some places are just not safe to shoot. I missed out on a LOT of potentially awesome pictures and films in the famously dangerous Venezuela because brandishing my camera phone would simply have been dangerous. It is galling and sometimes I think maybe I should have risked it but I know deep down I did the right thing.

Finally, make sure your devices are fully insured. Not all standard travel insurance providers cover gadgets so taking out separate cover may be sensible.

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