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Tips for Editing Travel Videos While Abroad

Caleb Ward

Away from your editing bay? Here are a few handy tips for editing travel videos on the go.

While editing from a work station is always ideal, sometimes we simply aren’t afforded that luxury — especially when traveling. So what are we to do as editors when all we can do is edit with a laptop? Let’s take a look at five ways to create stunning travel videos when you’re away from your workstation.

1. Archive Footage Well

Tips for Editing Travel Videos While Abroad: SSD

The first step when editing travel videos (or any video for that matter) is to log the footage well. Depending on your file structures and footage, your folders may take on different names. I’ve found the best thing to do is organize by Trip>Location>Event. Use descriptive words to name each clip, as you never know when you might want to access this footage later.

Once you get home, another option would be to upload your travel footage to stock sites like Shutterstock so you can make money with your unused footage. If you archive your footage right the first time, you’ll be able to better locate individual clips.

I suggest using an external SSD in a protective case to log your footage when traveling.  Not only will the read/write speeds be faster than an external HDD, but you’ll also have the added benefit of a more rugged hard drive.

2. Define a Narrative and Tone

While you may not have the luxury of a script when editing a travel film, your video should nonetheless tell a story in some way. Even if the story is very basic, it’s much better to use basic storytelling techniques in your video. For example, it probably makes more sense to start out with establishing shots to give your viewers context rather than throwing all of your b-roll together.

Beautiful Overview

This video from Richard Sidey is a great example of a scenic overview video. The video focuses more on the beauty of the landscape rather than Richard as a traveler.

This is a great example of a cultural spotlight video that uses color and music to tell a deeper story. The choice to use high frame rates also helps the audience notice more subtle details that might have normally gone unnoticed. The film was shot using a Phantom Flex.

When editing a highlight video like this, it’s good to think about continuity. You don’t want to simply slap your footage together. Instead, give your audience a context and ask yourself if any shots take away from the overall tone of your video.

Follow My Footsteps

Another way you could make a travel video is to do a sort of “day in the life” concept where you put yourself or your fellow travelers in the film. This example from Junior Braun is a great example of this style. Notice how the audience is going on a journey with Junior, from the car ride to the sights he visits.

This video by Juan Rayos, in which we follow a few longboarders down a mountain, is another good example of this style of execution.

When editing this style of film, it’s important to create a setting through introductory shots.

Stunning Timelapse

If you’re a lone traveler, then a timelapse video may be for you. Timelapse videos are an editor’s best friend, as they are normally shot in RAW and give you a lot of flexibility in post. This video from Martin Heck is a great example of what can be shot with simply a camera and tripod.

Here’s another great example of a travel timelapse video. It’s important to note that if you want to get good timelapse shots of stars, you will probably have to get pretty far out of town. If you can’t, I recommend using the new dehazer tool in Photoshop to clean up light pollution.

If you end up editing a timelapse film, spend a lot of time working with color. A little extra time spent tweaking your footage will pay dividends when you share your final video with the world.

Concept Videos

If you want to make your entire vacation/trip more video focused, you could always shoot a more conceptual video. This video created by Rick Mereki is an interesting take on travel. Each shot had to be carefully planned, but the finished video ended up looking fantastic.

Another interesting concept by Rick is this mashup of different food plates from around the world.

3. Use Grading Presets

Tips for Editing Travel Videos While Abroad: Travel Footage

When traveling, you likely won’t have much time to sit down and color grade each individual shot, so you’ll probably want to use some color grading presets. This will allow you to simply add a blanket grade to your entire video that matches the overall tone of your travel footage.

There are a lot of really good color grading resources out there. The most popular is Magic Bullet Looks. It’ll set you back $399, but it’s the way to go if you want to add professional color grading presets to your footage. Additionally, you could always use some free color grading presets (or even make some yourself) that emulate color grades from your favorite videos. However, if have time to color grade each clip by hand, you absolutely should. This will require you to shoot in a RAW or low-compression format, but it’ll be worth it if you have time to make an awesome video.

This terrific travel video from Leonardo Dalessandri is a great example of color grading.

4. Music Tells Your Audience How to Feel

Tips for Editing Travel Videos While Abroad: Music!

When it comes to travel footage, music is your best friend. Music has the power to radically change the way your film is perceived by your audience. Before you sit down to pick the right music, ask yourself what tone you want the video to have.

One rookie mistake is to choose music that’s too upbeat for the tone of your video. Try to pick music that reminds you of the feelings you felt when at that location. Here at PremiumBeat, we have custom, curated tracks from every genre that are specifically designed to work seamlessly with your film. I recommend checking out the Gentle/Light category to find great travel tracks.

5. Keep Graphics Simple

There’s a time and place for complex titles. A travel video is not one of them. Travel videos should draw your audience into a location while minimizing distractions. So you will probably want to keep to cross dissolves on solid white text. If you want to find a few awesome fonts, check out our  25 Sans-Serif Fonts for Motion Design post.

Have any other tips for editing travel videos? Share in the comments below.