Capturing outdoor travel moments: How to bring back great audio and video

A vacation full of action and adventure creates fantastic memories that many travelers want to capture “on film” to share with friends and family. But how do you bring back great audio and video footage that captivatingly transports your viewers to your destination?

Media arts educators who work with budding audio and video production students from The Art Institute of California, a college of Argosy University, weigh in with some basic tips.

Start with sound

Joe Godfrey, Audio Production academic director at The Art Institute of California, San Diego, recommends that a beginning videographer on vacation first think about sound.

“Sound can really bring you into an experience and tell a story, even without visuals,” says Godfrey. “So start by building a great narration track, then supplement it with your visual shots.”

Vacation guides and docents are great resources that can help you describe what you and your viewers are seeing. To make sure you catch all the insightful details, make the most of your camera’s built-in microphone. “Be conscious of where you stand, ideally close by the speaker,” advises Godfrey. “Then when the talking is done, feel free to get your video footage.”

Shoot at eye level – of your subjects

If you want to make that video footage memorable, think about where to put the camera, advises David Schreiber, Digital Filmmaking & Video Production academic director at The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles.

“A common mistake beginners make is to shoot at his or her own eye level,” he says. After all, it is more comfortable to make movies while standing erect. “Kneel or squat down. Show the world from the point-of-view of that duck-billed platypus you come across in your outdoor adventures. You will find that towering over your photographic subject, whether it’s an exotic animal or your adorable three-year-old, keeps the viewer at arm’s length from the action. It’s more immersive to plunge the viewer into the world of your subject, at their eye level.”

Try a variety of shots

To show your home audience the exhilaration of a more active experience like zip lining, for instance, incorporate a variety of shots. Enlist travel buddies to help you get more dynamic content. Schreiber recommends shots of your zip launch from the platform; from the ground midway through your journey and at the finish line with the camera zoomed in on your fast approach. He also suggests a medium-range shot that shows what you see as you zip along.

“If you really want to help the viewer identify with the adrenaline rush you experienced, turn the camera around 180 degrees and give us a close-up on your face,” Schreiber adds. “Nothing is as magnetic on the movie screen as the human face.”

Take it all in

Godfrey also notes that when recording sound, it is OK to just take it all in. “Natural sound is important and underrated,” he says. “Instantly recognizable, spontaneous sound like the roar of an elephant or the cheers and boos of spectators can effortlessly help you tell your story.”

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