Tell Me a Story: How to Make your Travel Action Videos Stand Out from the Crowd

From sandboarding in the Sahara to sailing in Sicily, Jake Rich has an enviable day job recording some of the best action experiences around. He reveals what it takes to make a great travel video that gets the views.

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Photo Credits to Jake Rich

For someone who started out studying sound design, Jake Rich seems a natural in front of the camera. Not to mention he’s pretty handy behind the lens as well.

“I spent a number of years trying to perfect the craft of beat making before discovering filmmaking,” he says.

“Inspired by vloggers at the time, I wanted to travel, and seeing all of the “do it yourself” vloggers capturing their adventures with point and shoot cameras had me wondering if I too could do the same.”

Jake has done not only that, but made it all his own. He reveals what it takes to make compelling action videos that people want to watch.

YOU DON’T ALWAYS NEED TONNES OF GEAR

So much can be captured with action cameras, such as GoPros, and there are plenty of options around depending on the type of videos you want to make.

“You should check out the “what’s in my camera bag” video shared on my YouTube channel, but these days I mostly use action and 360 cameras like GoPro, Insta360 and more recently, DJI drones,” Jake says.

“I’m by no means an FPV (first-person view) drone pilot, but I’m hoping to refine those skills as we continue to travel and create. Beyond the action, sometimes you just need a reliable shooter with the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and for this, Jake sticks with a 35mm full-frame camera.”

“For travel photos, we mostly shoot on our Sony Alpha 7 III camera and pair it with a bunch of different lenses to capture a variety of locations, styles and environments.”

TELL A GOOD STORY

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Photo Credits to Jake Rich

Shooting great footage alone doesn’t always guarantee an audience. This means putting some decent time into pre-production and Jake reveals this is where he’s had a fair bit of help.

“Scripting and storyboarding travel videos certainly aren’t achieved alone. I work closely with my partner Anna, who is an extremely talented filmmaker and photographer,” he says.

“I’ve learnt most of my pre-production skills from her. Our teamwork consists of many hours of researching locations and destinations through Instagram, blogs, tourism boards and YouTube videos. We try to focus on finding destinations that best lend themselves to action-based experiences.”

“When trying to produce 3-5 minutes of travel content, we begin by breaking down the production into micro stories of specific activities.”

“For example with our latest travel film from Morocco, we spent 10 days travelling from Fes, across the Sahara Desert and finishing the film in Essaouira.”

“We had organised to work with a cavalier/equestrian content creator in Essaouira after discovering his content on Instagram. That experience became some of the hero content in the film.”

Not that you need to have the entire storyboard mapped out before you start shooting, however. Jake emphasises some of the best parts of making travel videos is the spontaneity of the process.

“The beauty of travel filmmaking is that you’re never 100% sure of what you will capture, especially when you only have a limited amount of time in a location, country or destination.”

“In regards to storytelling, we have a very specific structure that we find works well for YouTube and other social media platforms we publish to. Most of our stories are written in post production, after the experience and after we 100% know which experiences we’ve nailed and can be the hero pieces in the film.”

“We teach this structure in our Action Camera Masterclass of which enrollments for March 2022 are now open.”

BUILD A GOOD TEAM

Even if you’re a solo operator, it doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. Jake recommends teaming up with others who may be able to fill in the skills gap so you get to focus on the bits you enjoy.

“Creating amazing content takes time, energy and focus and if you’re not willing to spend hours in the editing suite after you’ve had all the fun travelling and capturing, the content may never see the light of day.”

“As a solo creator, this can be tough. However, something I’ve found that also works best is building a team. You don’t have to be the master of all trades.”

“If you know that you’re not hyped on editing and you’re more into the pre-production, find a creative partner or jump on UpWork or Fiverr and outsource those skills. At the end of the day, the goal is to keep creating and many hands make light work.”

DON’T FORGET THE DATA WRANGLING

At the end of the day, without good data hygiene habits, all the hard work in capturing footage may be lost to inefficient workflows, or worse, losing the precious data altogether, so it pays to have a good process in place.

“Everyday we shoot or capture content, we spend an hour or two in the evening wrangling data and backing up all of the SD cards. It’s become a pretty routine habit labelling every camera by day and by content type.”

“We like to start with a fresh SD card on each camera each day of shooting so we can go and capture as much as we like without worrying about storage space. This has hugely helped our editing process.”

“We also like to backup all of our files on multiple hard drives and if we can, we try to use SSD drives whilst travelling to make sure the content is secure and never lost.”

“By getting into the habit of routine data wrangling, we have been able to successfully turn around client work or personal content video productions in a timely manner keeping audiences and clients happy.”

Jake Rich

Videographer & Travel/Nature Photographer

Jake is an Australian travel filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller. He has been sharing some camera and editing tricks with his over 100K subscribers on YouTube whilst travelling the world to explore more of its many colours.

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