Shoot Better Travel Videos. Camera, Audio, and More Tips

As a longtime video producer and filmmaker, I've got some tips to help you make better videos during your travels.

Sure we all have our phones when we travel and they can do a decent job of capturing your trips. But if you are thinking about stepping up your travel game, here's some tips and tricks from a 30 year veteran of video and filmmaking. This episode covers cameras, lenses, audio equipment and data management.


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Full Transcript, apologies for typos.


Hey folks, welcome back to Where's Walter TV. Today we're talking cameras, audio equipment and gear to help you make your travel videos even better.


So I've been doing video production for over 30 years now, when I first started, you had to have the big camera on your shoulder in order to shoot anywhere. And now, we have phones that shoot almost as good if not better than the cameras I used 30 years ago. So let's talk through some equipment that might help make your travel videos even better starting with cameras. So your phone, everybody has a phone in their pocket. Most of these phones are gonna have cameras back here, and then they're gonna have that selfie camera up in the front. Most people don't realize this is the better camera. So when you're going to do filming out in the road, generally the camera that's on the back of your phone is the one that is the better one because they assume that you're going to be taking pictures, you're going to be taking video, and you're going to be watching the playback here. The nice thing about using this camera as well, if you plan to talk to the camera, you know, like a vlogger and you want to talk to the camera, if we use this one, you're more likely to talk directly to the audience. Whereas if you use a camera on this side, you're probably going to talk to your picture and then you always look like you're talking you know, you always look like you're talking over here, and you never look like you're talking to the audience. So if you want to make sure you're talking to the audience, A: that's going to give you a better picture and 2: this will make sure that you are talking to the audience. So that's camera number one. Now camera number two, obviously the GoPro, this is my favorite camera in the world to take out in the field. Now one, you never have to worry about focus, whatever you're pointed at, kind of like the phone, you know, whatever you're pointed out, it's going to be in focus. It shoots a wider field of vision, even wider than the phone. And that's really good. If you're in a smaller space and you're trying to shoot wider or you want to shoot a big wide vista.


how do you know for in the frame. You can see I've been doing this, he's been doing pretty good. So you're wide. So you're not only seeing my nose. Now this is your nose. Okay.


The other thing that I love about this, it'll go under water. As long as you got it all closed up, it should go down about 30 meters. So like us, we'd like to go cruising so we're always near or on the water. And if you're going to go diving or something like that, or even snorkeling or just swimming or you're at the beach, you just wanna stick the camera underwater to see what's down on underwater. This will go underwater, these can get wet, some of these can get wet, but this can actually go underwater. So GoPro great little tool to have if you're doing any kind of traveling at all, you should have a GoPro in your back pocket. Now if you want to step up a little bit and get to a better quality, well, then you get what's called a DSLR camera. I don't know what the DSLR stands for offhand. But I'll put it on screen right now. You can see what it stands for DSLR cameras, generally, they have detachable lenses. So that's one of the advantages of them. So you can swap out the lenses and the zoom lens on a wide lens or whatever, much higher video quality, if that's important to you if you really want to step up your video quality and the amount of time that you can shoot and the sizes and the frame rates and all those other really cool stuff that you get into. So this is a Panasonic GH4. And I'm using this to do the little cutaways right now. This is a Fujifilm XT3, Panasonic and Sony are like the two big and Canon. Those are the three big cameras that most people get most people don't get a Fuji. I bought the Fuji because A: it takes outstanding photographs. And B: it takes a really really good video. So I'm more of a still photographer. When I'm out on the road I really like to take beautiful still photo. So I wanted to get a camera that could both shoot really nice video and take outstanding photos. Now my primary camera when I'm traveling is the GoPro. This one I'll use more for different I want to get really, really pretty picture because this is a heavy camera. This is a very heavy camera. This is probably about two and a half three pounds with that lens on it. Now the GH4 is a much lighter camera. It has a much smaller lens on it. And it probably only weighs about a pound, maybe a pound and a half. But it's still you know, when you put the two cameras next to each other, it's a bigger camera. So the advantage of getting the bigger cameras you get much more beautiful picture, 2: you have more options for inputs and things that you can connect to it. But in terms of ease of use and just sticking it in your pocket and taking fun video. The GoPro to me is the one if you're going to get another camera get started with the GoPro then if you really want to step up later on, get one of these but don't start with one of these just because you see all the vloggers using it. There's a channel here called all ears dotnet and they shoot everything with the phone and they're a huge channel on here, so you don't have to get one of these just to have a good channel going.


When you do step up the cameras, whether it's a GoPro or the DSLR, there's a couple of things that you have to take into consideration. Number one, batteries, these cameras take batteries to run, and every camera is going to come with a single battery, that single battery is not going to be good enough for you to even spend one day, let's say you're at a location and you're going to be out for four or five hours, you're going to run out of battery life in about 30 to 45 minutes of runtime, and that's it, you're not gonna be able to run it anymore. Well, first and foremost, whatever camera you get, make sure you have enough batteries to run that camera for I say, three hours of runtime, you might say, well, that's a lot of time. But if you're out for a whole day, you know, five hours six hour day and you keep turning the camera on and off, on and off, you may end up running it for three hours, you may have it turned on for three hours. may not run it for three, but you may have it turned on. So get yourself a stack of batteries for whatever, at least three hours of runtime. There's a company called Watson that I use a lot for they make GoPro batteries, they make batteries for the Fuji for the Sony's for the Panasonic and they are like a quarter to a half the price of the real like the Fuji batteries are 75. And these are 20. I don't know why, but they work just as well. And so I'll get myself a whole stack of batteries. So I know that the camera is going to run all day long. The Panasonic I know Bert, Panasonic makes the best batteries, right? Sure. See Burt agrees.


This is Bert. You've been listening to Bert. From time to time. Hi, Bert. Say hi.


Number two, you've got to get cards, camera cards, I actually have this spiffy little wallet right here that I love to hold on my cards, so I don't lose them. But the cameras will come with a card. And usually it's a small card, you know, maybe a 16 gigabyte card or maybe an eight gigabyte card. For me, I want the most memory I can get because the last thing I want to do is be out and about somewhere and my card runs out. And I haven't even seen the waterfall yet or the last thing that we're going to do that day. So I tend to get 128 gigabyte to 250 plus gigabyte cards for my cameras. And as you can see, I have a whole wallet full of them. Now I've collected quite a few. But I think you should have at least an extra card on you whenever you're out and about for the day just in case. Now to figure out how much storage you need for a particular camera to roll all day long. It's generally in the specifications. You know, how big of files it will create that does require you doing some math. The other thing you can do with just Google if you just simply google, GoPro 256 gigabyte card, how much footage Can I record? Somebody has figured it out for you. So that would be my advice. Just Google it.


What Hello. Hello Bert.


Now I feel like most people you figure Well, we've now covered the most important thing, the cameras, right? Actually, no. Audio, audio is actually more important than the video, because we want to be able to hear you. And people will stay with a video that has lousy video and good audio longer than they'll stay with something that has terrible audio. If you can't hear the audio, if it's annoying, you're not going to keep watching and just watch you know, next time you go to turn something away Is it because the content was bad on YouTube? Or is it because you know the audio is so bad, I can't stay with it. It's hard to hear. And especially you know, when you have a phone or you have a GoPro, and you're outside, right GoPros have terrible microphones, wonderful picture but terrible microphones, you know. So if you're like holding it out, or you're holding out your phone and you're trying to talk, we can't hear you as well.


So on your phone microphone is right there and microphone is on the bottom of the phone. So when you're making a phone call, you know it's nice and close to your mouth and we can hear you just fine. But when you're holding it out doing it in selfie mode, whether like this or like this, so it's pointing that way. Or if I'm like this pointing that way, it's not pointing at me. So it's trying to pick up all of this sound over here. And I'm just a sound I'm not the primary sound. And easiest thing if you're using a phone is just get yourself a pair of earbuds or you know air pods if you're using an iPhone, that connecting this up to the phone and then using the the earbuds that puts the microphone right next to your mouth and it will sound a ton better and it will help to keep the background noise down and focus on your voice. So just something as simple as a set of earbuds will make your phone video even better.


Now one thing I love is what's called the shotgun microphone. These things have been around for ages and this particular one I'll put a link in the in the description down below. This is called a Shure VP83. And I use it with this little grip up here, so I can attach it to the top of the phone. But I also use it with the GoPro and I'll use it with these cameras. And what's really nice about this is whatever that microphone is pointed at that what is going to pick up really well. And it does it up to about eight feet away. So even if I'm holding it like this, and I'm talking into that microphone, it's picking me up really, really well. In fact, I did a video recently from Disney Springs, where the speaker was right next to me blasting out music, but you can still hear me here, just check it out.


This is good. like way too much music going on up there. I know, my friend pointing out the music going, you're not going to be able to hear me that well. But I do have the shotgun, which will help. But you're probably hearing all these great music that you're playing out here. I know


Crazy, right? You can still hear me perfectly fine cause I'm talking into this microphone. And the speaker is over here. So the microphone is not trying to get that speaker as much it's getting me nice and clear. This microphone is a stereo microphone, it cannot plug directly into the phone. It does require a little adapter which I will put in the description down below. But it will plug directly into one of these cameras. And you can also attach it to a GoPro, GoPro makes this little USB audio adapter. And so I just go ahead and attach it to the top of this little mount here. I'd like to wrap the cord around. And then it just plugged right into the side just like that, you do have to make sure you flip switch on this battery operated microphone, which is one of the reason why it does work so well. And there you go. So now you've got to GoPro with the really good quality audio. Now, obviously, you're not going to send this underwater, you don't want to send it underwater. And I've actually opened up the side of the GoPro. That is one caveat to using this with a microphone, which is one reason why I have two GoPros. I keep this one all set up to go underwater. And I keep this one all set up to use with the microphone so I get the best of both worlds.


Now the ultimate microphone could be what I'm actually wearing, you can see this little microphone I have on right now. This is a Rode Wireless Go system. And now they have the Rode wireless go to which allows you to put two microphones into one receiver. So this is a wireless system, I'm wearing the transmitter, and then the receiver is on the camera back there. And that will work with a phone that will work with a GoPro that will work with any device. So that's like the ultimate that now you can go wireless supposedly works about 100 feet away from a transmitter, but that's with an open space. If you're inside a building, if you're in a ship, if you're in something with a lot of steel, your your results may vary. But as long as there's line of sight for up to 100 feet, they claim their work. Now the biggest advantage that a wireless microphone is that no matter where I am, you can hear me and there's obviously no wire. So nothing is attached to the device that you're using the big advantage over a microphone like this, that wherever that microphone is pointed, that's what is going to hear. So if I'm trying to talk to you right now, but I've got it pointed at, you know, the ship that I'm talking about, I'm not going to be that strong, I'm actually behind the microphone, so you're not going to hear me that well. Whereas with the Lavalier I can point the camera anywhere I want, you're always going to hear me You're always going to hear me full. So videos, little friend audio is actually more important than the video most of the time so at the very least get yourself a pair of earbuds so we can hear you better with a phone. And you know, you could think about getting a shotgun microphone or some sort of wireless Lavalier system.


Now let's talk about camera support. You know, I told you nothing will make you turn away worse than bad audio, well, really shaky camera will turn off a lot of folks too, because it's just so jittery, I can't keep up with what you're doing. Now you see me playing with this little pistol grip on here. So just a very simple little pistol grip with a phone with a phone mount on it. And it has what's called a cold shoe mount on top. And that's what allowed me to go ahead and put the microphone up here. You can put a microphone you can put a light you can put anything you want on top of it. It's very handy dandy, especially if you want to start using a shotgun microphone, a lavalier microphone look for something that has a cold shoe mount. What's also very cool about this, this just unscrewed and I highly recommend that you get a pistol grip that does not have the phone mount incorporated. Because now I can even attach it to this guy, if I want to. This is just simply a pistol grip and now this gives me stabilization. With this camera too, I've got something nice to hold on to rather than trying to just do this, I can hold on to the pistol grip and put the elbow right into my body which will help me keep this camera steady or as well or even when I'm shooting like this. It can be you know, rather than trying to keep my arm out like that I can just kind of keep my arm in so the pistol grip works with multiple devices and you know, I've mentioned AllEars a couple of times, AllEars is actually where I saw them using the pistol grip all the time, I thought what a great little device. It works with the GoPro as well.


Now another neat little grip is one of these little action grips they call them. And what's awesome about this, this floats. So if you're on the water, you're in a boat or something, and you're gonna have your GoPro out there, right, you can just use this little guy. And once again, this will work with the big cameras as well. This is very versatile, works with a lot of things. But this is awesome. So you can do this. And if you accidentally drop it or you know, maybe you're snorkeling or you swimming, and you want to make sure that when you let go of it doesn't just sink to the bottom, like I actually had that happen to me one time when we were snorkeling, it slipped out of my hand and it fell. So this is great. This is a action grip.


This is a selfie stick, but it's an extendable one. So this extends out quite a bit. And I use this a lot on cruise ships, where I actually poke it over the side so I can see over the side of the ship without you know endangering myself or you can just even put it up really, really, really high. But I use this with the GoPro a lot. It's a lot of fun, this does not float however this get near water, this is going straight down to the very bottom. Another nice, Handy grip for a phone is this little two hand guy, I've got links to all of this down in the description. That's why I'm not telling you necessarily you know what their names are. This is this is an Ulanzi i I know that Ulanzi makes this but this is nice because now you can hold your phone with two hands. And you're not you know, trying to you know, try to hold it and shaky it's much more steady when you hold it with two hands. And then it has these three cold shoe mounts on the top. So again, I go ahead and put the microphone over here on the side, like so. I have this handy dandy little light right over here. So I can mount the little light right over here like so. It's all funky and wobbly. But now I've got you know a really nice camera rig something I can hold steady and I can mount extra stuff to it. And I remember I was on a Celebrity cruise ship and I had the captain and so many people coming up to me going what kind of camera is that? Not realizing that it was just a phone in behind here. The other cool thing is this mounts to a tripod either horizontally or vertically this way and it's the same thing with the pistol grip. But that also mounts to a tripod. This these little Joby's are awesome little tripods. The reason why I love these so much one, the camera just snaps right off like that so easily. But these are flexible. So you can wrap this around a pole or say on a cruise ship, you wrap it around the balcony, and then it will hold your camera in place. I first saw somebody using this in Disney World, they had it wrapped around the light pole and I thought that was so cool. So if you just want to get like a mounting point, maybe once you some time lapse, or you just trying to get you know, you just need a shot and you want to get a family one that itself time you can put the camera down like that. So these little Joby they're called gorilla pods are just awesome.


Uh, one more thing, I do love it, my Manfratto tripod, again, link in the description, you see how small this is, it fits beautifully in my camera backpack. So I could just walk around with it all day long, no problem. But if I know I'm going to be in a location where maybe I'm going to be really zooming in and I want to take nice steady shot, or I want to take time lapse or something like that. I'll bring this along with me, it extends up to something like four feet. beautiful little tripod, extremely lightweight.


You know, I should mention that there are some places like I believe disney world does not allow you to use extendable selfie sticks like this one. So you want to be aware of that. They have no problem with these little pistol grips. And they have no problem with these little guys. But the ones that actually extend out, you might want to make sure if you are planning to take one of these with you that you can actually use it


(Joe speaking Italian)


When I travel, I backup my material every single day, whatever photographs I took that day, whatever video I took that day, I don't want to leave them on the camera, I don't want to leave them on my phone, I actually transfer them. And I highly recommend you do the same especially if you're going to be on a longer trip when maybe you're going to run out of card space. So get yourself a nice little card reader, bring your laptop along with you. And then I bring two hard drives. Okay, Master hard drive and a backup. And at the end of every single day all the photographs that I've taken all the video that I've taken, it's copied to the hard drive, and then I copy it from this hard drive to that hard drive. Hard Drives will die and you never know when they're going to die. So I make sure I have two copies of everything. And then every day I can just go ahead and erase the camera and I can start over fresh so then each day I'm just copying the latest material over there if you're going to really start filming a lot whether it's with the GoPro whether it's your phone, whether it with DSLR cameras, get yourself a you know a card reader and some hard drives and get in the habit of every single night when the day is over. Transfer the material over. It makes it so much easier to organize, I'll make a folder on the hard drive. It's this day and that location. And then when I get home at the end of the vacation, the footage is somewhat organized. And I can remember Oh, yeah, that was at that volcano that was at that lake that was here.


So I hope that discussion has been helpful for you. I want you to go travel the world, I want you to share with the rest of us what you're doing. I can't wait to see what you all do with your cameras and your phones in your new microphones that you're going to get right so that we can hear you really well. Hey, thanks so much for watching. If


you like what we're doing, what you're doing what we're doing, please subscribe and click that little bell icon so that you know when we put more silly stuff up there for you. Maybe I'll talk correctly the next time when we do one of these. So Hey, thanks so much for watching and have an awesome day everybody.


Yeah, that's the one I'm gonna take