Whether your ideal vacation is relaxing on the beach, exploring a new city, or scuba-diving in the Pacific, you’ll probably use your phone to take video of your trip. Sometimes that video amounts to three minutes of crashing waves that convey monotony more than calm. At other times, the footage is exciting, but shaky camera work makes it difficult to watch. Before you set off on your next vacation, review these tips so that you return with share-worthy videos that truly capture the feel of your getaway.
Plan to capture vacation highlights
A little planning goes a long way when it comes to shooting a vacation video. In the same way you plan by packing all the essentials for your itinerary like sunscreen, clothes and special gear, take a moment to think about your video footage. You can even set a few reminders in your phone so that you remember to capture moments that can’t be replicated, especially any first-time experiences. Even if you can repeat an activity, you don’t want to miss recording the energy and facial expressions of the initial reaction that will make you want to hit replay over and over.
Set the scene with good lighting
You may have remembered to record important highlights along the way, but without good lighting, they won’t be as enjoyable to watch.
For outdoor videos, the optimum time for recording is right after sunrise or just before sunset. With the sun lower in the sky, you will be able to avoid harsh shadows and take advantage of softer, more even lighting. You don’t have to take every video at that time of day, but it’s worthwhile to plan a few memorable ones while the position of the sun is optimal. When it’s time to pick the best scenes for a video scrapbook, these might wind up being your opening and closing footage.
As you ease into midday, it becomes a little trickier to record as the harsh sunlight distorts colors and creates unappealing shadows, not to mention all the squinty faces it causes on your family and friends. The key to this time of day is to find a spot that lends a little shade as the lighting will be softer and more diffused.
Indoor videos also work well on sunny days as long as the subjects aren’t backlit. Position your phone so that everyone is lit from the front. If an activity is taking place near a window, stand between the lighting source and your subjects so that the light filters onto their faces.
Invest in special lenses and accessories
While your phone makes it effortless to shoot videos, some accessories are worth the investment. A zoom lens allows you to record close to your subject without the pixelation that occurs when you use the phone’s digital zoom, and a host of accessories are designed to help with video stabilization. Newer phone models have optical image stabilization as a built-in feature, but nothing compares with the stability of a tripod or a case that adheres to almost any surface, not to mention the freedom to let go of your phone and become part of the video.
Perfect your stance
Even if you own a tripod, there will be times when you are making a video on the go. Your phone’s stabilization features will help to create smooth footage, but that’s only part of the equation.
The most effective stance generally requires tucking your elbows into your sides and holding the phone with both hands. Take a few practice videos while bracing yourself this way and modify the stance as necessary so that you find the exact position that works best for you.
Focus on stability and comfort so that you won’t be tempted to cut a video short because of an awkward position, and plan to hold your camera in landscape orientation. Even though vertical videos are supported by social sharing platforms, most people prefer landscape format, which translates to a better viewing experience on computer and TV screens.
Learn to use video editing apps or software
If you’re lucky or skillful enough to capture the perfect raw footage, you might want to share that content, but often vacation videos benefit from editing. Basic changes such as trimming can be done with your phone’s features, but for anything more extensive, you will need an app or software.
Finding the best one requires some experimentation, but there are a range of options designed to help you edit individual videos or turn them into a video scrapbook complete with smooth transitions between clips and a soundtrack. Whatever you do, retain the original videos in case you want to revisit them later.
Focus on making memories and capturing details
What makes your video distinct is the perspective you bring to it. Other vacationers may have toured Europe or explored Tokyo, but they didn’t capture it exactly the way you will. Pans of a gorgeous landscape or scenes of a bustling city give vacation videos a sense of place, but also remember to focus on the people and details that make your trip so memorable. This personal touch helps your video stand out among the crowd and is key to enjoying it yourself. After all, the appeal of reliving your vacation comes from the brief reminders that spark your memories. When creatively edited, these moments are fun for others to watch as well.
By planning ahead and following these tips, it’s possible to make more creative vacation videos. With the native features on newer phone models and a host of accessories, capturing better footage has never been easier, which is why it’s also important to plan for enough storage.
If unstable camera work or poor lighting yields less than stellar results, remember you can always improve a video through editing or extract a few highlights. At the end of the day, your video is about capturing and sharing some memorable moments, so get out there and have fun!