Monday, September 7, 2015

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #156 - Scandinavia Cruise (#1 of 10)

Editing Techniques for Better Vacation Video
Hi, welcome back to the HENBC Blog!  We are continuing to feature ideas for editing vacation video. This is the first of a special 10-part series of articles.

Amateurs like myself shoot incredible amounts of video when we travel, but that stuff is likely to be boring and un-watchable.  This blog is full of ideas about how to transform raw footage into videos that our friends and families will enjoy!
Experts on the internet do a great job teaching us technique for cameras and editing programs.  I've learned a lot from them, but technique alone cannot create an interesting travel story.  
I challenge myself to tell quick interesting travel stories with my raw material.  For a long trip this often becomes a series of chapters that share some common elements.  I often use narration supported by music, because it's a quick way to orient the audience.  Since I don't take myself too seriously the chapters are often humorous, and I love to include little surprises.
There are more that 160 blog entries at (check out "archives" on the right side of this page).  Most are illustrated with a real example -- a travel story that was created using my own boring video footage.  

Next up is the Scandinavian Cruise that we took in 2005.  Seven years after the trip I "transformed" twelve hours of video and hundreds of still photos into ten short chapters. They can be watched individually, but taken together our vacation story is told in about thirty minutes.

Scandinavia Cruise 2005:  London, England (#1 of 10)

The purpose of this first chapter is to introduce the vacation and cast of characters, plus hopefully grab audience interest so they watch Chapter 2.  It's only two minutes long, so for a quick start I cranked-up newsreel-type music and we go directly to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.  Hey ... was that Elizabeth II waving to us?
Then we meet six friends at the cruise ship dock in Dover.  The Queen continues waving, a Viking ship burns, and the narrator (myself) suggests that the viewer pour a stiff drink to enhance their enjoyment of the movie.

  • Well, it's obvious that this is not intended to be a serious travelogue.  From the very beginning I'm teasing our nephew, Matt, and there's an animatronic Queen-like person.
  • In retrospect, the scene from The Vikings is a little over the top, not funny enough, and probably unnecessary.
  • There are some poor-man's digital effects!  The "waving queen" comes from a still picture.  I cut off her arm, then replaced it.  But first the disconnected hand was animated with the editing software's transform controls.   It's real brute-force amateur-style digital special effects!  Check it out -- full-size at 1min 23sec.  A much smaller copy of the same graphic appears in the black car's window at  0min 51sec.
Lessons Learned:
  • Grab your audience's attention quickly.  (I think the newsreel music and map serve this purpose.)
  • Once you have their attention, don't lose them.  (I think the Vikings clip comes dangerously close.)
  • Use music to enliven the video.
  • You've only got the audience's attention for a few seconds.  A good narration gives them reason to "stay tuned"
  • Speaking of the audience ... they're impressed with simple things.  I always have to pause the movie to explain the Queen's waving hand!
  • Before "Final Cut" always have someone you trust preview your masterpiece.  Once you start editing, you have ownership and are wearing blinders.  Shorter is always better, ask someone help you to identify and eliminate unnecessary scenes.

Next up:  The ship arrives in Gdansk Poland

All of the Scandinavia trip chapters have already been loaded onto YouTube.  Individual chapters may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
The combined 30-minute video is also available here.

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