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Shoots, Edits & Posts

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Shooting travel videos was always something other people did.

For one thing, I’m a word guy, a writer. Visuals are for somebody else.

But that’s hardly the only reason I shied away from shooting. There’s my profound lack of knowledge about how to make movies. The teamwork required to do it. The weight and expense of even a secondhand, third-rate movie camera. Plus the knowhow and expense of editing footage once it’s shot.

And all that was once true. Now it isn’t. Welcome to one of the true wonders of the Digital Age. I’m still a writer, but now I’m a writer who shoots videos. More than sixty of them and counting. Maori carving in New Zealand. Skiing in Alberta. An action-sport competition in San Francisco. Turns out I like visual story telling, too.

But the main differences between then and now are technological. Thanks to advances in gear, I (and you) can learn to shoot, buy the gear and even master the editing process without going broke or going crazy.

I’ve learned my craft at the Apple Store, using their One to One program, which, when you buy a new computer, is yours for $200 for two full years. No further charges required. No tips accepted.

But even if you don’t own a Mac, the Internet is filled with free lessons on the craft of movie making. Vimeo, YouTube’s smaller competitor, offers first-rate instructional videos at Vimeo Video School. No charge.

As for teamwork, I either shoot alone—say, when I’m on a snowy mountaintop—or with my wife. That’s the total crew. No focus puller, no best boy, no gaffer.

My camera of choice these days is a Canon 320 HS. It shoots hi-def, slo-mo, outdoors or in. It’s so versatile, it even works in semi-darkness, no lights required. It picks up sound like a much bigger rig, no boom required. It weighs five ounces, no chiropractor required. It costs $200. And it fits in the pocket of my jeans.

As for editing, once you own a computer, it’s free. Free! By contrast, back in 1995, we did some work with a successful videographer who had just paid $50,000 for editing software. Viva la Digital Age.

If you’re thinking of making videos of your own—and I recommend you do—here’s my advice:

  1. Start small. Most of our videos run under three minutes.
  2. Start simple. Use iMovie, not Final Cut Pro. Use a pocket camera, not a Hollywood big-rig.
  3. Start now. Shoot, edit, post to YouTube and Vimeo. Voila—you’re making movies.

To see what we’ve done with a little camera and without fancy gear, check out our YouTube page.

And if you give this video thing a go, let me know.


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