I take photos. You may have spotted one or two of them in the posts I write up about cruises or the ports or excursions we take when we’re travelling around the world. I also take videos but the videos tend to be short clips, mostly just a moving capture of something that’s happening without much thought given to it. Subsequently, those video clips are pretty raw if they’re even used at all in any of my travel posts on the site.
I follow a lot of other travel and cruise bloggers on various social media platforms and the use of video is fairly prevalent, the vast majority of it nicely-produced with graphical overlays and music and a flow of some description. I’m not a video-first person and I’ll never be a person either comfortable having my ugly mug in front of the camera or even listening to the sound of my own voice but I have decided I should make more of an effort to polish up some of those memories from abroad. Obviously, there are expensive ways of doing this but splashing out a lot of money for a venture that may not amount to much is crazy and I’m not that sort of crazy. I’m a different kind altogether.
Step One: Get A Dedicated Video Camera
Yes, my phone takes good video. Actually, my phone takes incredibly good video (Google Pixel 2 XL, thanks for asking). However, it also takes very good photos and performs an awful lot of useful functions when I’m out and about that might make switching to video more awkward than it should be in some cases. I’ve had a few cheap video cameras over the years but the ultra wide angle of the GoPro-style seems to be popular and I decided to get one of them… only cheaper. A lot cheaper. I went for a VTIN EYPRO Sport Camera (here’s a review and I paid well under half that amount). First impressions: very pleased with the functionality and price. I’m looking forward to really trying it out on our next trip.
Step Two: Practice Video Editing
Now, I could have used my new camera to record some bits and pieces and put together something but at the moment it would still be a little unstructured so I decided to roll back the clock to our honeymoon cruise on the Diamond Princess in 2008 to see what I could do with some of the footage taken then with some thought to what I could have done better in filming for future reference. I did actually take a reasonable amount of video during that fabulous trip to Asia so limited myself to the pre-cruise excursion clips shot in Beijing over three days.
Footage decided upon, so now to the editor. I have Adobe Photoshop CC for my photography so subscribing (even if only for a month just to see) to get Adobe Premiere Pro CC would be easy, except I’ve used it a few times for various pet projects and know that it is a little bit overkill for me at the completely amateur stage I’m at. Yes, it’s powerful and has really fine-grained control over effects but it’s also hungry and my PC isn’t that big a beast; in short, my machine struggles with it. I elected to find something substantially simpler and went to the Windows Store because, well, someone’s got to. After grabbing a handful of editors, trying them out on a single piece of footage with some effects and text, then rendering them there was a clear favourite for me: Animotica. I ditched the other apps, paid around £8 to unlock all the features and went to work.
Animotica has almost everything I realistically need – transitions, blending modes, overlays, audio tracks, typical trimming, motion, and speed alteration, etc. – and comes with a load of preset video sizes for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. as well as decent control over the final rendered output.
If you’ve not edited video before then I’d suggest grabbing the free version of this app, adding two video clips (you must have some somewhere), then playing around with the transition options and basic editing tools, adding text overlays, then adding some music or a voiceover. It’s far easier to just try it out than give any form of guidance because for the most part the sorts of programs you get from online stores these days are pretty self-explanatory. You can get rid of the watermark in the application for a very small one-off charge (around £3 I recall) and unlock more features with the still very reasonable full price.
It’s not a perfect application by any stretch but there’s hope that some new features will make it into an update at some point. The ones I’m crying out for are snap guides both so that clips can be aligned with audio or overlays and so that overlays themselves can be anchored either left, right, or centre. I’d like a zoom option so you can more accurately see where the video marker is and to make it easier to align things at the frame level.
There’s also an issue in that the transition durations, rather than working on the video or photo clips they span instead pad them out. This sounds reasonable until you insert a new clip or decide, for instance, that you’d like to change all those 1-second spinning transitions in your video to 2-second blurs instead after getting dizzy watching it; what then happens is that any text overlays or music you’ve already applied later in the timeline shift out of sync with where you originally placed them. The solution at the moment is to get the video and transitions sorted before you try adding any text or music anywhere in the video; not ideal, but if you know about it then you can prepare yourself for it.
These are all minor issues that won’t prevent you (or, as it turns out, me) from producing something pretty reasonable (if I do say so myself) and, hopefully, they’ll get picked up in future updates. If you’ve seen the homepage of the site then you might already have spotted the 8+ minute video I produced from the three days of footage in China. If not, then here it is in all its royalty-free music, blurry-transitioned glory. See Tiananmen Square where we posed for photos like rock stars with Chinese people. See The Forbidden City where one of our tour group got lost. See The Temple Of Heaven where one old Chinese man was almost beaten up for cheating at dominoes. I know most people won’t watch it but as a memory for me and my wife it was really fun gathering it all together and looking at it all again.
I’ve been very pleased with my first foray into the dark art of video editing and am looking forward to getting some more practice both with old video from previous trips (it’s not like there isn’t a ton of it knocking around) and from filming on future travels with more of an eye towards producing these sorts of videos afterwards. I don’t think you can expect to see me appearing in any recordings any time soon (read: ever) but there might be an upsurge in video releases for the attention-deficit travel fan to feast their eyes upon as time goes by.