Travel Video: Equipment Recommendations for Travel Bloggers

The vast world of travel video is a rapidly growing industry. It used to be that if you wanted to record video you’d need a heavy VHS camcorder and a great deal of upper body strength. Today, you have more recording options than countries to explore and each branch has become specific to varying skill sets and needs. Here’s a quick rundown on what to consider if you want to get into travel video and are wondering where to start.

Captain and ClarkOne of the biggest things we’ve learned about travel video is that good audio is key. The average viewer will gladly suffer through ten minutes of blurry nonsense if it has solid audio, whereas they will click away in under a couple of seconds if they can’t hear what’s going on. The first big purchase for our travel video kit was the Rode II shotgun mic. This super versatile mic sits right on top of our camera and is powered by a single 9 volt battery. It cuts down the rumble of wind, picks up subjects from over 30 yards away, and gives a strong clear sound to our videos. Many video bloggers swear by wireless lavalier “lav” (lapel microphone) mics as well. The trade off is that occasionally the lav signal can interfere with any other sound equipment (only important if you’re filming something like a set of a big shows like in Vegas) and they require you to attach the microphone to your subject. The shotgun mic is simply point and shoot.

When it comes to cameras, the first thing to consider is what your travel style is like. Are you active with emphasis on extreme sports or water activities? Are you always on the move and need a quick way to capture the organic moments? Perhaps you like to plan ahead and have a set itinerary. Maybe you want more control over your videos? In our experience, the most common families of video device can be separated into four categories: sport, DSLR, camcorder, and phone.

For the Active Traveler:

Our recommendation – GoPro HERO Black or Nikon COOLPIX AW110

The most common and obvious choice for sport recording is the GoPro. A GoPro kit will retail between $400 to $600, depending on setup and add ons. This versatile camera has more gizmos and customization options than any other comparable camera in its class. We know some video bloggers who only use a GoPro to fuel their YouTube channels. These devices are compact, waterproof, rugged, and can attach to aerial drones. The trade off is quality and versatility in image. No matter how HD a camera claims to be, image quality will always boil down to sensor size and controls. A GoPro can take you really far in life for a modest sum. However, it’s true proving ground is in sunny, outdoor, and fast paced moments.

For the Renaissance Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon EOS Rebel T4i or Canon 5D Mark III

If you want a camera that allows you control of every aspect, a DSLR might be for you. The beauty of the DSLR is in its large sensor size and myriad of controls. From manual focus to adjustable FPS (frames per second) and aperture, the sky is the limit with a DSLR.

DSLRs have the added charm of being more low profile. It’s significantly harder to tell if someone if filming with a DSLR than when they pull out a large camcorder. This has the nice touch of putting subjects as ease for interviews or even drawing attention away from zealous border guards and sensitive security areas.

A DSLR doubles as a great camera and can allow for a lot of customization. For any blogger whose travel style is constantly changing, this is a great option. The trade off is that is a big investment. A solid DSLR camera runs upwards of $2000 for a good body and lens. The great news is that you can later play with different lenses, adding great breadth to your video quality. The learning curve is also pretty steep. Unless you’re already familiar with ISO and FPS settings it can take some time to really get to know your DSLR and how to film with it. The pay off is well worth it though.

For the Solo Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon Vixia HF G20 or Canon Vixia HF R50

One of the best parts of a point-and-shoot camcorder is that it is so simple to use. Our first camera was a Canon Vixia HV30. It retailed for $400 and all we had to do was turn it on. For any solo travelers, a camcorder is a sweet option as it offers to bear the brunt of the work load. DSLRs are amazing, but they require someone to man the helm in order to keep focusing and changing the lighting. If you prefer to film yourself with arm outstretched or by setting the camera on a ledge and jumping in the frame, it can be hard to argue with such an easy camera. The trade off comes in control. If you really want to add that artistic edge in your storytelling or to master the illusive bokeh effect (subject in focus with the background all blurry) then you’re fairly limited. Most high-end camcorders run between $500 to $1500 depending on what you want and offer a range of high quality footage.

For the Quick Draw Traveler:

Our recommendation – The iPhone 5s

If you are wanting to dip your toe into travel video and aren’t ready to drop the cash on a huge equipment run, you’re in luck. The cameras on most smart phones now record at a better quality than most of the cameras I first started using eight years ago. The ease and versatility of an iPhone is really incredible. While you won’t get the crisp image of a camera with a larger sensor, it doesn’t really matter for most videos. The majority of travel videos are watched on a cropped YouTube screen anyhow so quality doesn’t start to betray you until your videos get blown up to full screen. You can get away with a lot by using some cool visual tricks too. The iPhone now records at 120 frames per second, lending itself to some super smooth slow motion video. Not to mention the slick autofocus and slim size allow you to get some amazing panning shots and impromptu videos.

Over all, the most important parts of video are really in finding your own personal style of storytelling. Are your videos going to focus more on capturing large sensor, high HD images? Or will you highlight your personal narrative and storytelling? Once you can identify what works for you it is much easier to determine the right equipment for your style.

Author Bio:  Chris Staudinger and Tawny Clark, better known in the travel blogging community as Captain and Clark. Tawny Clark and Chris Staudinger met on the summit of Kilimanjaro, courted in South Korea, got engaged at the Taj Mahal, and most recently were married at a Bavarian theme town in their home state of Washington. Their passions are travel, adventure, and storytelling. It’s their goal to inspire, excited, and encourage others to get out and explore this beautiful world. Video will be one of the things they talk about in the TBEX Athens Saturday morning keynote with Paula Froelich.

Sign Up for FREE Video Workshop at TBEX Athens

TBEX Athens attendees who are interested in video have a few different ways to learn about their craft. Video is a big part of the storytelling process for Captain and Clark, something that they’ll be talking about in Saturday morning’s keynote. And on Friday we have a basic level breakout session on Easy Ways To Get Video Onto Your Blog.

peter_parkorr_travel_unmaskedFor those attendees who’d like to spend a little more time figuring out video blogging, we’re offering a FREE Video Workshop on Thursday, October 23rd, from 10 am-2 pm. The workshop will be led by Peter Parkorr. You must be registered for TBEX to attend.

What You Need To Know Now About Video For Blogging is a high-level overview of the video blogging marketplace, for intermediate bloggers who are new to video. From deciding if video is right for your blog, to creating, selling and getting the most out of your efforts, this workshop will broken into mini-sessions to help get you pointed in the right direction.

Topics covered will include:

  • Is video right for you and your blog?
  • Video essentials
  •     – Basic equipment checklist
  •     – Filming techniques to learn
  •     – Editing workflow and software
  • The case for Youtube versus other networks
  • Ways to monetise video;
  •     – How much should you charge?
  •     – What should you offer to sponsors and clients?
  • Learning more: Examples and resources

Sign up here, attendance is limited. 

There are lots of things to do in Athens before the official opening of TBEX, whether you prefer the indepth educational content of our two-day workshops, enjoying the pre-BEX activities, exploring on your own, or getting your feet wet in video with this 4-hour workshop. With this kind of programming diversity, we hope you’ll find just what you’re looking for to personalize your TBEX experience.

Have you registered yet?

Good Morning Riviera Maya: A Video Look at TBEX Cancun

Just a peek at what you missed in Cancun

Do those voices sound familiar? Those are the voices of TBEX community members Sue and Kevin McCarthy.

Don’t miss out on all the fun we have planned in Athens – register now.

Utilizing Instagram Video to Enhance Your Culinary Content

 

Editor’s Note:  You may have spotted Andrew at TBEX in Toronto when he presented a talk entitled “A Taste of Place: Defining a Destination Through Its Food Culture.” Andrew follows up with his return to TBEX Athens via “How to Monetize Your Culinary Content.” 

When I spoke at TBEX in Toronto the last few slides of my presentation focused on highlighting brands I had worked with in the past to enhance my culinary content. What I found most interesting is that during the Q & A (as well as numerous private chats which took place throughout the conference) bloggers and PR pros were most keen to learn more about this facet of my work.

In many ways my presentation at TBEX Athens is a “Part 2” to my culinary tourism presentation in Toronto and specifically offers intermediate/advanced level bloggers a look into branded storytelling with a culinary twist. I’ll be using a case study approach to highlight four of my favourite collaborations, each brand representing a different industry: Canada Beef Inc (agriculture), Canon Cameras (tech), Pilsner Urquell (beverage) and Rough Guides (publishing).

Today I wanted to highlight an aspect of my work that I won’t have an opportunity to discuss during my session at Athens: utilizing instagram video to enhance your culinary content. I embed instagram video into all of my destination guides online and also use the online media platform for stories I write for Metro Newspaper Canada. These quick 15 second videos offer readers an audio visual glimpse into a particular event or experience which adds value to the copy and pictures you’ve provided, the heart of your story.

I currently use an iPhone 5S to shoot, and typically film anywhere from 10-15 video clips during a particular event. Once home I edit my video together using Cute CUT App, exporting to my Camera Roll as one file. I then upload to instagram and share via Twitter, Facebook and my blog. Here are three recent examples of how I’ve worked with beverage brands to highlight a food and drink experience.

Stoli Vodka at World Pride

This past June Toronto was the host of World Pride. I was thrilled to act as the Latvian-based vodka producers ambassador at the festival and produced a sponsored story for the brand, Rainbow High at World Pride Toronto. Stoli hosted an opening night party for the festival at Pravda Vodka Bar featuring a VIP Stoli cocktail party featuring table-top dancing and live Russian band.

Grolsch at the Toronto International Film Festival

Each September I acted as Metro Newspaper Canada’s reporter at the Toronto International Film Festival. Grolsch is the official beer sponsor of the festival and each year the beer brand hosts a fabulous al fresco concert series in the heart of TIFF-town. Beer fans gather for a string of free concerts while mix and mingling through art installations. The brands iconic green bottles with spring cap are served up ice cold at the bar.

Pilsner Urquell at Taste of Toronto

Pilsner Urquell was the official beer sponsor for this summers inaugural Taste of Toronto, which was hosted at historic Fort York in July. I traveled with the beer brand last Fall to Czech Republic and wrote a story for the Vancouver Sun, “Beer Tour: From Pilsen to Prague.”

Pilsner Urquell hosted a special Keepers of the Craft session for VIPs on the Saturday of the festival. Chef Grant Van Gameren at Bar Isabel was recently awarded Canada’s Best New Restaurant by Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine and spent the afternoon inspiring his eager audience to produce the perfect Spanish pintxo.

 

Author bio:  Andrew Dobson is a full time travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. He regularly finds himself on the road visiting two to three destinations a month. Based in Toronto, he manages his blog dobbernationLOVES full time while also regularly contributing to Metro Newspaper Canada, XTRA Newspaper, The Vancouver Sun and Eat In Eat Out Magazine. 
Andrew is known as an expert in branded storytelling working as an ambassador for brands such as Canada Beef, Canon, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Travel, Stoli Vodka, Pilsner Urquell and Ford. His blog was acquired by Metro Newspaper in February 2014.