Your videos, your friends and how to make them compatible in nine simple steps.
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I’m sure we all have that friend that invites us to watch their 4WDing videos but we know it’s going to be boring as… maybe you are that friend? Here are a few tips that might not win you an Oscar, but just perhaps keep your mates interested in your videos.
1. If using your phone, turn it horizontal before filming
I’m yet to walk into an electronics store and see a bank of vertical TVs. To get the best results, turn your phone horizontally before starting to film. If you only want to share it with your friends on phones, maybe vertical is OK. But remember, if we are 4WDing we are generally in the ‘wide’ open spaces which I think look better in ‘wide screen’.
2. Add yourself to the video
Hopefully you are enjoying where you are – so why not show it? If you are terrified of the impending water crossing or steep descent, tell the camera. Fear and enthusiasm are infectious and will get the audience engaged to the point that they have to know how it turns out. Remember watching Steve Irwin? His raw enthusiasm for everything kept us glued to the screen.
3. Different camera angles
Dashcams can be good if there is a meteor streaking past or a roo jumps across your bonnet; otherwise they can get a bit tedious. Take a lot of different angles when you shoot the video. Walk up the track and put the camera in a tree so it captures you driving past. Put the camera on the track where it won’t get hit by the wheels. There are plenty of places that you can position the camera to get different angles to make the vision a lot more interesting. If you have a passenger, have them go ahead and film you as you enter that muddy bog hole or clear creek crossing. Variety is the spice of life… and so it is with different camera angles.
4. Use multiple cameras
These days, high quality video cameras are in everything. In your phone, your tablet and even your digital camera. You might have an action cam as well. Having at least a couple of cameras at your disposal, it’s pretty easy to get different angled videos of the same action. It does take a bit of time to make sure all those cameras are getting different shots – but they do add a lot to the ‘watchability’ of your video. Get a wide shot, a tight or close-up shot, a low shot and/or a high shot all at the same time.
5. Tell a story
Who doesn’t love a good story? Have a beginning, leading up to a climax; then round it all off with a good ending. 4X4 trips generally start off with anticipation, a sense of the problems that could be encountered; and then overcoming them when they appear. There is then a sense of relief and accomplishment when you get to the other side of that challenge. The challenge may only be a short creek crossing or traversing the Simpson. Your fourby may be off the showroom floor or decked out with $20K of the latest kit. This doesn’t matter at all – because you’re filming your adventure, for you and the kids and a few friends. Your co-workers will probably think you are on off-road legend and your Mum will probably always love whatever you show her. Who knows, it may be good enough to get thousands of people watching it on YouTube… but make a video for the family, and enjoy it.
6. Editing: yes, you can do it
If you have a smartphone, you can edit your video. If you have a tablet or computer, you can do even more in the editing department. You’ll need to work out how to transfer the video files across to your editing device and then make sure you have some editing software. If this sounds too hard, just ask your kids as they probably already know how. Editing can be tricky but it can also be a load of fun and it will open up a whole new creative world for you. In iMovie (only on Apple devices) you can create a great movie trailer with titles, music and your own video clips very easily. There will be a similar product for your non-Apple device as well. Editing may seem daunting – but give it a go and I’m sure you will be surprised by the results.
7. Add some music
Music can add a lot to a video, creating tension or other emotions depending on the music track. Think about who your audience is and use music that they can relate to. Death Metal may not be the best choice for Nan. If you add copyrighted music and then upload to YouTube, the audio track may be dropped automatically. The wider the audience, the more generic the music should be. I’m sure your three-year-old would love the video with Wiggles tracks but may not appreciate the Kevin Bloody Wilson favourites your mates would applaud.
8. Keep it short, then shorten it again
It’s hard to chop out bits of video that you struggled to get, or that might look cool to you – but if you leave everything in, no-one will watch it. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to watch his five hours of unedited video of a recent trip… I politely declined. Keep it short; or make it really, really interesting. How short is short? Even three minutes can be too long on YouTube; but for friends and family no more than 10 minutes for a multi-day trip. You could have a couple of versions (one for you and one for everybody else).
9. New technologies
Drones and 360deg cameras
Every week there seems to be some cool new technologies coming out. Drones have been around for a while and are getting cheaper and smarter all the time. To get a drone with good controls and a gimbal with camera, you will need to spend upwards of $2,000. If you do get one, there are a lot of rules to be aware of – otherwise you could end up spending more on fines for flying in restricted airspace. No matter how good you are at flying, it will crash and need some repairs (so be prepared for the ongoing costs). Technologies like 360deg cameras are starting to make waves in the video world. These can be fun but they’re cutting-edge at the moment, so it may be best for most people to wait for them to become more mainstream.