How To Create A Vacation Video You'll Actually Watch

No one is watching an hour of you riding a camel through the desert, including you, but you can make something you'll at least enjoy.

By: Jason Hatfield
June 14, 2016

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I'm not going to bother with some catchy lead-in or talk about creating memories that last a lifetime. If you're like me, you've probably got a lot of video sitting on your hard drive, the cloud, or NSA servers. My primary focus for the past 10 years has been on creating images, but as my cameras started including high quality video capability I started shooting more of it. Most of that video unfortunately, languishes unseen, waiting for me to have the time to get around to editing it. 

When the mood strikes me though, or I take a trip unique/fun enough I want to relive the experience on a screen from my couch, I put a video together of the adventure. In the time I've been creating short movies I've found what works for me, that makes me actually want to watch it numerous times, and it's mostly not creating some 30 minute behemoth.

1. Edit for Brevity

That leads me to the first tip, it's pretty hard to make the video too short. I've "seen" numerous videos on my FB feed that are the modern equivalent to watching a vacation slideshow. I don't need to see absolutely everything you did, nor do you, the point is to show key highlights of the experience and/or tell a story.

2. Shoot Small Clips

To help with creating a short, watchable video, capture short clips. You don't need 5 minutes of yourself mountain biking down the same trail, just be ready to record in the best sections and stop soon after you're through. This will give you much less video to go through when editing, and make finding your best shots easier.

3. Select for Impact

Once you've captured all those short clips of your trip, you'll need to start picking which ones to use. Curate the collection for the video with the most visual impact, or those which help tell your story the best. The footage that looks the best isn't always what you expect when shooting.

4. Create a Linear Story

When creating your video it doesn't have to be in perfect order, but it should move the story along. Editing for a more linear story will make a trip easier to remember especially when you visited a lot of places or participated in a number of activities.

5. Music is Key

Now this is definitely something of personal preference, but I'm not big on dialogue in my vacation videos, especially the kind describing everything you're seeing to the viewer. For me music is the key to setting the tone of the video and evoking the experiences felt. I typically spend my time first selecting a song or songs (from a creative commons database) and then start editing the video to it. Having songs selected beforehand also helps limit the length of my movie.

6. Always Bring Your Camera

Whether it's your camera, phone, or GoPro, make sure you have a video camera with you everywhere you go. I've missed numerous opportunities to capture something special about a trip because I thought I wouldn't need my camera.

7. Capture the Whole Scene

Don't just focus on the activity you're doing, shoot clips of yourself getting ready, taking transportation, grabbing a meal, etc. Try to think about the whole scene you're in and how showing the small details tells more of a story.

8. Be Unobtrusive

The camera is there to capture the trip, not take it over. Take time to set the camera down and just enjoy what you're doing, living behind a camera can take away from some of the experience. When you are shooting, try to minimize your camera's presence and keep it out of the way. 

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.