Ten Tips for Creating Awesome Vacation Videos
With summer’s arrival, families are gearing up to make reservations and pack suitcases, ready to make countless vacation memories. The most enjoyable and effective method of recording those priceless moments is with home videos.
As a film student and short film creator working with professional grade cameras and production software, I’ve learned a lot about commercial film production. I’d love to share what I’ve learned so you might apply it to your own home videos.
First, it’s important to always remember that even the best director can get befuddled in the search for the “perfect home video.” These ten easy tips might not bring your home movies to Oscar status, but they’ll help you create memories you will enjoy for a lifetime and be proud of.
#1 – Bring a tripod! Most home videos suffer from being too shaky and unstable. Sure, it’s fun to get plenty of action shots, but it’s imperative to capture the quieter moments as well. Tripods are easy to use; you can get one for a mere ten dollars at most electronic stores.
#2 – Shoot on cloudy days. Every cinematographer knows that the best lighting comes on overcast days. The less sunlight, the less (strong) shadows. If you want your kids looking their best, make sure the clouds are out when you bring out the cameras.
#3 – Using a phone is fine. For basic stuff, using a smartphone to capture your footage isn’t much different than using a camera, so long as it shoots high quality video. The only real difference is finger placement. Make sure you’re holding the phone tightly, and double check that your hand isn’t covering the lens or the microphone (I can’t tell you how often I make that mistake.)
#4 – Get a wide range of shots. If every shot in your video is a close up, it’ll be confusing. That’s why it’s important to get a wide range of various shots. Get some full body angles, close ups of your subjects’ faces, and even some really wide shots (this is especially cool if you’re in a beautiful area such as the beach).
#5 – Don’t overshoot! Even though it’s good to film all the interesting things you stumble upon, it can become tiring pretty quick. Make sure to take some time and relax. Keep in mind, this video is for you and your children to look back on one day. Only film the things you’ll be interested in looking back on.
#6 – Use your camera strap as a stabilizer. Are all of your shots shaky, because you can’t seem to hold your hands still? There’s a solution! If you don’t have a tripod handy, you can pull the camera forward until the strap is pushing on the back of your neck. It might be a bit of an arm workout, but your shots will look much cleaner.
#7 – Use the best editing program you can. Consider editing your videos to give them oomph — add music, captions or even special effects. Most computers automatically come with Windows Movie Maker or iMovie, which are both easy-to-learn examples of free softwares. If you’re wanting to do some serious editing and are planning on having more control and abilities, I’d recommend Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. They’re a steeper in price, but they’ll give you the most options.
#8 – Choose the right music. Music is probably the most vital aspect of movies — why not also use it to enhance home videos? It’s what brings emotion. Choose a song that means something to your family, but that suits the video as well! If you’re meticulous, you could even time each cut to fit with the beat. So long as you are not using the video commercially, and only showing it to friends and family, nobody will mind if you use copyrighted music. So … use your favorite songs.
#9 – Know where to share it. If you want to show all your relatives and friends how much fun you had on your most recent excursion, share the video with people you trust on social media! If you’re proud of your filmmaking skills and feel comfortable with the video being visible to the world, upload it to YouTube for the world to see. It’s important to post it somewhere, just in case you accidentally lose the file through a computer crash or other incident.
#10 – Make another one! Even if you just got back from a family vacation, that doesn’t mean you can’t film the new adventures you and your kids (or friends) are having on a daily basis. Memories aren’t reserved for vacations, so make sure you always keep the camera handy in case you have an idea for a new home video masterpiece.
Dane Bachman studies filmmaking and sound recording at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, one of the premiere arts conservatories in the U.S. His shorts have been screened at several film festivals, and he took home a jury prize in the student short film category at the 2016 Pontchartrain Film Festival in Louisiana. He lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast until he was about 12 years old, and still enjoys visiting as often as possible.