Harry Wolff

You can't escape my laugh.

Creating YouTube Travel Vlogs

In March I went to San Francisco for a week to attend a conference and for vacation. I had a great time seeing friends and exploring San Francisco.

While there I took a lot of photos and a lot of videos. I have always taken a lot of photos wherever I go, however a recent trend for me is to take more video. Afterwards I've been enjoying taking those videos and cutting them together into a travel video, along the lines of vlogs that I watch on YouTube.

I'm trying to do this more often. I did it when I went to Nashville and now I have one for my trip to San Francisco. I definitely notice that as I practice making these videos they become better and easier to make.

Even from these last two events I've changed a couple of ways that I capture video. The first is that I try and talk more to the camera. Having video of landscapes and people walking around is fine, but it gets dull pretty quickly. It's much more interesting having someone talking directly to the camera, narrating what is going on around them. I didn't do that as much in Nashville so I tried to increase time spent talking to the camera in San Francisco and I think it definitely improved the entertainment value.

Another is to directly involve and film the people around me. In Nashville I was skittish about asking people if they were comfortable being on film, and so I ended up filming around them. In San Francisco I went out of my way to ask if people were comfortable being filmed and if so then I included them in whatever action was occurring. Having a wider cast of characters improves the video because there's only so much of me that I think anyone can stand to watch for 10 minutes straight. Myself included.

I also filmed more than I expected to use. I made sure I had more film then I knew would fit within a 10 minute YouTube video. This made selecting the highlights a lot easier. Rather than trying to scrounge for scraps of footage to use, I had a wide range of options to choose from. I left whole swatches of footage on the cutting room floor as they paled in quality compared to other footage. Having that option to pick and choose was a little difficult, as I wanted to share everything I had captured, however being able to leave subpar action out made for a better video.

I'm still trying to figure out how to best make use of a soundtrack. I'm crawling through Soundcloud at the moment, looking for copyright-free content that I can use. With the San Francisco video I found one however when YouTube scanned my video it noticed the track and told me I couldn't monetize my video. Which is fine, but I thought I was in the clear with the song I chose which was upsetting to find I wasn't. It wasn't a huge loss as I wasn't looking to monetize my video, but I'm still working on better audio workflows.

I'm still editing these videos with Final Cut Pro X. I'm most comfortable with it and it gets the job done. This San Francisco video took just under 6 hours to fully edit together, which wasn't so bad. I spent a Sunday afternoon with my headphones in, zoning out and reliving my vacation.

That's one of the things I love about making these videos. The output is a succinct and fun way to remember a trip. The alternative is browsing through random videos on their own, or scanning through pictures. Having this entertaining travel video is something I'll be able to have forever, an easy way to remember the time I went to San Francisco in 2017.