Whatever the story is, if a dynamic host is leading the way, so much the better. You can mount your camera on a tripod and be your own host or use a travel companion if he or she can exude a sense of enthusiasm for the subject. An on-camera appearance with an introduction to a place is a great way to personalize a travel video.
If you’re going to put yourself in front of the camera, put out as much energy and personality as you can muster. Gone are the days of the “Voice of God” narrators who we hear but never see. The most compelling stories follow a dynamic character such as Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations and Samantha Brown.
CAMERA TECHNIQUESome video techniques are counterintuitive to our still-photo sensibilities. For me, not moving the camera and chasing things around the dance floor during the dramatic performance was one of them. But as you’ll see, it’s often far more dramatic to hold the camera still and let the action go out of frame. Motion in the film/video world is typically done by edit and not by moving the cam-era. Additionally, faster cuts make sequences convey more action.
Thai cuisine is unique and a big part of the travel experience in the country. At the magnificent Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa near the Thai/Laos/Burma border, I used a macro lens with a shallow depth of field so you could almost taste the food on the screen. The shots have to live up to the enthusiasm you have for the subject. If you can make the audience have a Pavlovian response to a food shot, you’ve succeeded at the highest level.
Pans (moving horizontally) and tilts (moving vertically) are important camera techniques that are best done with the camera on a tripod.
CAMERA SUPPORTA fluid head on a tripod is a must for anyone who wants to make serious hybrid videos. I used the Manfrotto 128LP micro video fluid head on my carbon-fiber tripod for smooth pans and tilts to reveal the architecture of the historic Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai. Pans and tilts on a non-fluid head will strip its gears.
For situations where use of a tripod is impractical or impossible, such as shooting from the top of an elephant at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang Province, rigs like the Redrock Micro stabilization system are great tools. To change focus or zoom during a shot is almost impossible without a supplemental focusing setup such as the Redrock microFollowFocus. A hooded loupe over the LCD screen will help focusing, especially under bright conditions.