As a wanderlust, I have traveled to many places, both before and after taking up the hobby of making films.
In this post today, I would like to share with the beginners 5 most common mistakes of travel-filmmaking that I made myself.
These tips will help you save your learning time and make better videos instantly. So make sure you read to the end!
Alright, let us get the main topic right now.
Like you, I used to underestimate the need for stabilization in my videos.
The device I used at the time was a GoPro – but the inbuilt digital stabilizing feature couldn’t save me the memories that I will never get back.
The price I paid was high – I couldn’t use tens of hours of footage because of the shakiness. I made the viewers feel dizzy, it even made me feel dizzy. I couldn’t use them anyhow, and the more I look at them the more frustrated I get.
So, I had to discard of them, despite the enormous efforts I spent into making them.
Solution: Invest in a gimbal. If you want to use your hands, that’s fine, but you need to learn the skill to hold your phone/GoPro steadily first.
2. Plain storytelling
Storytelling is a wide topic, and good or bad storytelling is subjective. Because one person will have his/her distinct charm, so there’s no definite way to set your storyteling technique.
However, I can sketch out the most basics mistakes that beginners make in travelling clips:
This is when you put your footage into a timeline, in the exact order of what you bump to in your trip. It might be awesome for you, the one who experienced it in blood and flesh. But it will be very boring for the viewers.
Solution: Rearrange your footages so that it fits a storyline, rather than a chronological timeline.
As a wanderlust, you probably have a knack for nature. That’s is not a good excuse for filming scenes with solely nature. We need to relate to the viewers. And the viewers can only relate to the people in your film.
Solution: Take a lot of footage with the human: it can be the local, or your companion, and especially yourself.
Here is my preferred way to tell my story in my film clips:
Beginning scenes: With my footsteps; a silhouette in a wide-shot or medium-shot, or a character opening a window.
Wrapping up: The sunset, because as the sun goes down, the day is finished. And it’s the perfect scene to wrap up my film clips.
3. Heavily influenced by someone else
Let me throw this out first: It’s totally ok to learn from the people who you admire in making film video clips.
I myself take aspirations and learn the techniques from foreign and domestic filmmakers, on Youtube and in real life alike. Where else should we learn our lessons but from those who explore the path first, right?
However, imagine that you spent a fortune buying the equipment for your mobile filming. Then days and nights go into editing that film. You feel proud and excited upload that film clip online, only to be commented: Hey, isn’t this a Sam Kolder (or anyone else) copycat?
Ain’t no one want to be called a copycat, right? Even if we don’t intend to do that, I know the reason why our clips have the exact feel like someone else.
The actual situation, which I stumbled myself, is that I watch someone’s work, and it made too big an impression on me. The loud and astounding ways that they tell their story get me on a subconcious level. Then, I subconsciously recreate those strong feelings that I had when shooting and editing my videos.
Hence, on a subconscious level, I did copy the works of others.
In the end, my work came out feeling like what their works made me feel. Their influence showed on my travel film clips at a conscious level that people can recognize right away.
My purpose was to show my own experience, but the way I show it turn my work into someone else’s duplicate.
After a while, I can see the areas that people get affected the most are:
- The titles and subs fonts.
- Music: songs or genre, or even the tempo!
- The transition effects.
- The color theme/ filters.
Some of the names that have strong language in their clips include Sam Kolder with the effects; JR Alli with the scenes transitions; or Leonardo Dalessandri with panning shots. These techniques have become their trademarks. And they are indeed famous, too! Therefore, if you include their trademark moves in your clips, their names will blur out yours in the viewer’s mind.
As of late, I have subscribed to some other travel filmmakers, whose techniques are not distinguished. But their works are still stunning, nonetheless. Those are Samuel Elkins, WOLVES X TRAVEL, Christian Mate Grab. Their techniques are awesome, but subtle. If you learn from these people, their influence on your work won’t be so obvious.
Solution: Be mindful of who and what influences your works. Trademarks from distinguished filmmakers will make your clip seems like a copycat, while subtle effects from slow-paced travel filmmakers will bring out your own tone more. Be patient, your own style will be honed with time.
4. No ambient sounds
As you may have known, ambient sounds are the background noise of the scenes. The people talking, the wind blowing, the dogs barking, etc.
Ambient sounds make your traveling clips have more depth and feel to them. That’s why a good phone shotgun mic must get not only good isolated audio, but should also capture ambient sounds nicely.
I know that inserting background sounds and ambient sounds take a lot of work. Sometimes, I spent the same amount of time looking and inserting the right sounds like the time I spent making the clips. However, your skills will get better with time, and the final travel film quality worths it.
Solution: Insert commercial sounds, or use the ambient sounds that you get when you shoot the scenes.
5. The image and the music don’t compliment each other
People feel your clip through the image, the movements, and the music. Integrated music and scenes make your viewers feel good.
Finding the genre of music that compliments your clip and brings out your aesthetics is no easy task. I have a tip with using better music for your film clips:
- In your chosen music track, the rhythm should change rapidly, and the bass line occurs frequently. The many sections in the track are clearly separated. We can use that break for the scenes transition.
- Edit your clip, so that the sequences transition occurs exactly at music breaks and drops.
Below are the 5 Mistakes of travel-filmmaking beginners that I made myself, and I believe many people do stumble upon them, too.
Knowing where our shortcomings allows us to fix it. I hope my experience can help enhance your learning curve, so you can make more professional and outstanding clips.
See you next time, and make sure you read my series on making film clips with phones!