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How to Make Travel Videos for Beginners

Shooting travel videos is not only about the fun of using your camera or capturing incredible moments. You also want people to watch and like it because that tells you that you’ve created a good piece of art. Of course, that’s hard to achieve, especially in the beginning. That’s why I created this tutorial.

With this tutorial I want to make it easy for you to produce travel videos that people want to watch. I will share all the necessary steps together with my most important tips here. So by the end of this tutorial you’ll feel a lot more confident to shoot your next travel videos.

Step #1: The Preparation

Let’s start with the first and a crucial step, the preparation.

What’s the point?

The first thing you want to find out is what’s the point of your travel video? Do you want to educate people about a certain place? Do you want to show the experience? Do you want to tell an actual story? Or do you just want to let people have a feeling like inspiration or the need for adventure?

The point of your video can be everything you can imagine. But if it has no point, there is also no point for the viewer to watch it.

If you just want to make a video of your trip, in form of a vlog or so, you should at least have the basic structure of the video in mind. But also think about what the value for the viewer will be, like why should he watch it? Then it’s also important to leave some space for all the unforeseeable things that will happen during your trip.

So definitely put some thought into it. If you do it before you shoot your travel video, you can get your shots a lot more intentionally with the purpose of your video in mind.

Inform yourself about the place(s) of your travel video

Another important part of the preparation is to inform yourself about the place where you want to go. For that, tools like Google Maps, Instagram, Sun Surveyor and YouTube are perfect. You already get an impression of good shots and the overall experience. And you will also be able to check if there is something else on the way to cover in your video.

What you should also plan before is the time of the day. Most of the time your shots will look better if you go for sunrise and sunset. But there are sometimes places where it’s better to go at noon time. For example waterfalls often lie in between mountains. So the sun must be up to light up the waterfall. Here you definitely get better shots at noon time instead of sunset or sunrise. But it really depends on the place.

So definitely take some time for preparation before shooting the actual video. Your video will come out much better and it will be easier for you to get good shots and keep the viewer engaged.

Step #2: The Shoot

Our next step is to shoot the video. There is a lot you can learn about shooting videos, which is why you should subscribe to my channel by the way. But in this tutorial I want to give you the tips that I think make the biggest difference when comparing travel videos from beginners with professional travel videos.

Get single shots / don’t let the camera roll all them time!

The first tip for shooting travel videos is one I can’t mention enough and it’s likely the most important tip to make the step from beginner to pro. The tip is simply to capture single shots instead of keeping the camera rolling all the time. Otherwise, the footage will come out bad and amateurish.

So instead of shooting continuously, better get single shots. By doing so, you force yourself to shoot more intentionally, what makes your shots come out a lot better.

But there is also another advantage of getting short single shots instead of shooting continuously. It simply saves you a lot of time in the edit as you don’t have to skip through hours of footage. So definitely shoot like that instead of keeping your camera rolling all the time.

What shots to get and why?

But what you likely ask yourself is what shots you should get and why?

And this is actually not that complicated. You just have to think in terms of scenes and how each shot adds to the current scene. So basically when you travel to a certain place you can break your trip down into different scenes.

For example:

  • 1st scene: Traveling in a van
  • 2nd scene: Walking or hiking to the destination
  • 3rd scene: Arriving at the destination and enjoying the view
  • 4th scene: Having some food at a restaurant
  • 5th scene: Sunset beach time

So now during your trip, you can simply ask yourself what scene you’re in right now and what shots you need to get to create the scene.

In the van that could mostly be some parts where people do funny stuff or everyone sleeps hangover from the last night.

But at the other scenes it gets more complicated. In the hiking to your destination scene for example, you want to capture a sequence of shots that tell the story of the hike. So here you can shoot a mix of close up shots of peoples walking feet, faces looking at what’s around them, wide angle shots of people hiking and shots of interesting things you see on the way or unforeseen stuff that happens during the hike.

Important to remember is that close up, medium and wide angle shots show more or less of the same situation. A close up shot of a foot can show that it’s about hiking but it leaves questions on who is hiking and where and what does he or she see?
So by using close up shots first and wide angle shots later, you keep the viewer interested as he wants to know more.

With shots that show what people see on the way, you have lots of creative freedom though. Just shoot whatever looks good for that.

So generally, by capturing a good variety of different shots that show everything that happens from different perspectives will make it very easy for you to edit a good scene later on your computer. So definitely get more shots than you need. But make sure you get all the key shots that are important for each scene or place.

How to capture good looking travel video footage?

But now let’s get even deeper into it with some tips on how to actually make your shots look good.

And a good one here is to place subjects like people, cars or other objects, we see often, in wide angle shots. The reason for that is simply that by doing so our brains have a reference point for the size of the landscape and objects in the shot. That makes the landscape or attraction appear even bigger. Perfect for viewpoints, temples and other big attractions.

Another tip that beginners mostly do wrong is to point their camera down from the top. Your footage looks much better if you either get bottom up shots or if you keep your camera on the height of your subject instead of pointing the camera down while you’re standing.

The reason is simply that you make things look small by pointing your camera down on them, while shooting up from the bottom makes it look bigger and at the same height it looks even.
Most of the time you want to make things look big or even and not smaller. As most beginners just shoot while standing instead of kneeling down, your videos automatically look amateurish if you shoot like that. So move your body, get low and your shots will look much better and more interesting.

You can also make your shots more interesting by moving your camera. That mustn’t be big movements. You can simply use a foreground object directly in front of your camera to make even small camera movements more visible.

To make the motion even more visible, you can use a wide angle lens for forward and backward moving shots and a more zoomed in lens, for movements in the horizontal and vertical achse.

If your camera doesn’t have digital or sensor stabilization, you should get a gimbal tough, as otherwise your footage will look shaky. Also optically stabilized lenses and slow motion help with that. – See what gear I use

And regarding slow motion, I want to add that you should only use slow motion to emphasize certain shots instead of using slow motion everywhere. Otherwise, the effect of slow motion in some key shots is not that strong anymore.

As I oftentimes don’t know if I want to use slow motion for a shot or not, I simply shoot most of my footage in 60 fps, what allows me to slow it down in the edit or leave it at normal speed

How to shoot for seamless transitions?

Then you might also ask about seamless transitions. There’s a lot you can do to make transitions and I can’t cover all of that in this tutorial. But what’s generally very easy to do for cool transitions is to end one shot in the same way as another one starts.

So for example, if you slide your camera behind a tree at the end of one shot, you can get a second shot where you start behind a tree and then slide the camera away from it to reveal something around you.

In the edit you can simply cut these shots in the right moment, add a fade effect and you have a super smooth transition. I made a video about it. You can watch it here.

Also check my Seamless Mask Transitions Pack. It makes it very easy to insert seamless transitions in the edit and works for all major video editors.

When it comes to transitions, it’s also important to talk about what shots to get to transition from one scene to the other. For that you have three options, which are time-lapses, drone shots and shots of both scenes or places with something similar in the shot.

The first two ones are quite obvious. Shots from high up in the air are great to transition from one scene to the other as it takes the viewer away from the current scene. Timelapses are great as it feels like time is passing by until something else happens.

But the third option is actually often overlooked. To do that, you must imagine what objects are the same in different parts or scenes of your travel video. Oftentimes, that can be cars, trees, a souvenir you bring with you or even your hands and many other things.

So what you do is to simply get one shot of something like that at the first place and then another one at the second place. By simply cutting these shots together at the transition between two scenes, it feels like the scenes have a connection. So it doesn’t feel like a random jump cut anymore.

Of course, you can also use the seamless transition we talked about earlier, but that’s harder to do as you don’t know how the shots at the next place will look like.

Step #3: The Edit

So these are some of the most important tips when it comes to shooting your travel videos. But now it’s time for the edit.

Build a good structure

And the first part in the edit is to build a good structure for your video by bringing clips together that create scenes, as we talked about earlier. And then all you have to do is to arrange the shots within these scenes to make them flow good.

And flow good can mean that you put them together in a way that tells the story and keeps the viewer interested. But it can also mean that you arrange them by similarities like camera motion, similar forms, same subjects and so on. That’s for example what Sam Kolder does a lot, especially in his earlier videos.

Voice Overs

But depending on the video you want to create, it can also make sense to work with voice-overs and then adjust your clips to the voice over. So that the clips always show what you’re talking about. Of course, if you can combine this together with actual sequences, you’re absolutely killing it.

And to put all of that in more practical terms, what I usually do in the edit is to drag all clips into my timeline at first and sort all the bad clips out. After that, I arrange all the clips in the timeline in a way that feels right for me in terms of sequences and similarities and then I start inserting the music and I cut everything to the beat.

There are many tutorials on how to cut to the beat already on YouTube. So just search for it if you don’t know how to do it. – Or get my video editing course to learn my workflow in full detail!

When I mainly use voice overs tough, I drag the voice over in the timeline first and then I fill it with clips wherever they fit to what I say. So that’s a bit different workflow.

These are the basics of editing good travel videos. But they are also the most important because a good travel video is not just made of fancy transitions and orange and teal color grading (yes, I like that as well. But that’s secondary, while the stuff we talked about in this tutorial comes first).

The good thing is that you can do all of this in every major video editor. I use Final Cut here as it has the best performance and overall the fastest workflow. But you can do the same for example in DaVinci Resolve, which is free and also one of the best video editors.

So if you put all the tips from this video into practice, I’m absolutely sure that your travel videos will turn out much better and that even people that don’t know you will enjoy watching them.

Most important is really to ask yourself what the value of your video will be for the viewer. And if you’re not on a level where you can impress with cinematics, go more into storytelling while you learn how to improve the visual quality of your footage.

Do you have any further questions? Leave it in the comments below!

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Pascal Basel
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