How to Shoot a Travel Vlog Without a Script

I just finished a video about our China holiday. For this video I didn’t plan anything. My idea was to enjoy the holiday and only film interesting things whenever I felt like it. This has given me a different video-creating-process. In this blogpost I will give you some tips on how to film a travel vlog without a script.

Before the trip | Needed materials

A compact camera to carry with you everywhere. This can be mobile phone or a sportcamera. Decide for yourself how important the video quality is for your video. If you want a bokeh effect and cinematic footage, you could decide for a camera with a big lens. If okay-quality is okay, then mobilephone-quality might be good enough.

My requirements for a camera are:

  • small, easy to take with me in my shoulderbag
  • easy to grab and to start filming
  • high video quality / sharp video
  • image stabilization for stabilized walking shots and panning shots

I now use a iPhone 14 Pro, because it checks of all my requirements. I am especially happy with the image stabilization. Before I started using my iPhone, I used a Sony RX100 Mark III. While it provided a sharp video image, it didn’t have image stabilization.

Of course, you don’t need to buy the best iPhone. These days, all mobile phones have good video quality. (I am comparing them with the 12-megapixel compact cameras from my youth). The story and the sound are the most important parts of a video. Images can always be edited in an ‘old style’ where the video quality won’t matter that much. (I saw YouTube creators with the DJI Pocket, which is a very small camera, but has stabalization and 4K quality video.)

During the trip | No plan and shoot!

Life is too short to plan everything. No, just kidding. But what I mean is, on a holiday, you want to relax and enjoy the holiday. Though, you need to keep your brain a bit active; if you see something nice or interesting, you can film it.

How to film:

10 seconds video or longer

If you find something interesting to film, shoot some additional shots: zoomed in, or try a different angle. Try to get a few different shots to create a compilation later. If you only had one opportunity to film because you were capturing a one-time action, let the camera roll a bit longer. Something could happen after the action and you wouldn’t want to miss that. My rule of thumb for filming a ‘pretty’ scene is to record for about 10 seconds. This provides enough footage for me to find a nice B-roll (decorative video) later. I often have shots where I zoom in or out. After you’ve zoomed, you need to film for about 10 seconds extra, ensuring you have enough video for the editing process. BUT remember, the more you film, the more video you have to go through in the editing phase. So choose the best shots and moments to film. Not too much random shots. Judge your shot before you start the camera.

Don’t move the camera!

The best shots are shots that don’t move (or have only slight movement). You shouldn’t move the camera so the viewer can focus on what is moving in the video. You have to imagine that the camera is the viewer’s eyes. When you shake the camera, you are shaking the viewer’s head.

I-don’t-care-attitude

Okay, maybe you are not used to filming in public. You need to have an I-don’t-care attitude to film things and people. You might find it awkward to point your camera to people. But really, if you are not bothering people and not invasing people’s privacy then people won’t care. Just be respectful in public. The more you practice, the less anxiety you will feel. It worked for me after 20 years of making photos of people. Care less about what people think.

Framing

Here is a video explaining about framing your video.

Filming during a holiday is a very good excersise to practice nice framing. Also watch how your favorite movies and tv-shows frame their shots. Remember it and try to recreate it. I find that K-dramas (Korean tv shows) have beautiful framed scenes. I get inspired by them.

Also, this video is just for fun. Just enjoy the learning process and experiment with different things. Maybe film standing upside down.

After the trip | Editing time!

You are home again, and you are enjoying the afterfeels of the holiday…

Now it’s time to plan the story!

Write down all the interesting points you have seen during your holiday. Create a list with subjects to talk about. The idea is to tell a story via a voiceover or only in text about the trip. Write a script.

What I did for the China 2024 trip was:

  • create a list of interesting things to talk about with Ming
  • rewatching and categorizing all the usable videos together in folders

The videos that I filmed in China would become the B-roll for the conversation I will have with Ming. And our voice will be the voice-over for the video.

If you have written a script, film yourself telling the story or record the voiceover.

Editing

Edit the video using the voice over as your main story. Add the nice looking shots (B-roll) from the holiday over the voice over. You can use iMovie if you have a Macbook. I use Adobe Premiere Pro. DaVinci Resolve is for free. Check out YouTube for tutorial videos about how to use the editing software.

Most important: why are you making this video?

What is the goal with your video?

After my China trip I heard a lot of friends saying that they would never go to China, because they don’t know anything about it. I thought: “okay, I will show you how cool China is, so you want to put China on your bucketlist”. That was my goal for the video. Show cool stuff about China in a consise way. Not too long or too slow, but a fast-paced-filled-with-all-kinds-of-topics-video.

Questions to think about:

  • For who are you making this video? Who is the audience? What do they want to see?
  • What kind of style video fits the audience?
  • What kind of skills do you want to practice?

Keep it fun! You are making something nice for yourself and the viewer.

These were my tips. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. Have an awesome day!

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