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Taking Better Tour & Activity Videos

Prerequisites: You should have a digital video camera of your choice to use for business purposes.

Estimated Time for Completion: Reading time of 20 mins.

Details: I am not a videographer, professional camera person, or a film-maker.  Chances are, neither are you.  But, that doesn't mean that you don't have the ability to make interesting, compelling, and even exciting videos about your tours, activities, or company.  With the costs of cameras and editing software now within the reach of almost everyone, the ability to take and edit video is well within the capabilities of most business people.  Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your video experience:

1. Know your camera – Every video camera is different and has strengths and weaknesses.  Before you start shooting tour videos, be sure to test your camera in a variety of different shooting conditions and see how your camera responds.  Here are some good test scenarios:

  • Noisy party or busy environment to test sound pick-up on the camera microphone.
  • Quiet environment to test the sound level for whisper or low volume conversation (particularly important for birding, animal watching, hunting, or other quiet video environments).
  • Bright outdoor condition with water background.
  • Cloudy outdoor condition with canopy or shade.
  • Indoor lighting conditions (if appropriate).

2. Create a shooting template – This is also known as a script but serves as a basis for how you plan on shooting your videos each time you do a tour.  Remember, these are not highly directed epic videos, but rather souvenir videos for your customers.  A good standard format for your template would be:

  • Arriving at the tour or activity.
  • Getting ready (gearing up or strapping in).
  • Doing the activity (biggest portion)
  • The review ("So what did you think?")

Keep it light, casual, and friendly.  Remember, this isn't going to work for everybody, so don't waste your time (and your customers') if it doesn't fit with your business.

3. Get a tripod – Yes, you will thank yourself.  There is nothing worse then watching the shaky hand videos.  Trust me, unless you are running the Blaire Witch tour, I recommend you get yourself a Gorillapod flexible tripod so you can attach your camera to a tree or rock or whatever and take some stable shots.  I bought one recently and it has since become my primary tripod.

4. Know the three primary moves – Zoom, Pan, and Hold. Experiment with all three and get a feel for when to use them in your particular shooting script.  Here is a quick definition of each move:

  • Zoom – Move it close to the object.  If from a distance, zooming in on a subject will require additional stability.  Use gradual zooming versus quick zooming in and out.  This move can be combined with the other two moves to result in a Pan/Zoom Out, or a Zoom and Hold.
  • Pan – Move from one side to another usually in a horizontal manner.  This is best done at the same rate that a person would turn their help in order to emulate the most realistic panning motion.  Move too quickly and you risk losing or blurring the details.  This is a particularly good move for showing an expansive landscape.
  • Hold – Yes, the lack of movement is in fact a movement.  Holding is important because it allows the viewer to settle their attention on a subject.  Hold shots for at least ten seconds if possible.  Shorter holds can be jarring if they are frequent.

5. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting – Be aware of the shooting environment, especially with regards to the lighting.  For outdoor shoots, make sure the Sun is behind you.  If you are shooting against a water background, avoid looking down on the water in order to minimize the glare from the Sun against the water.

For more great tips, I recommend you check out the following excellent video websites:

Outcome: If you are successful at completing this daily action, you will have the basic tools to start taking better videos of your tours and customers. Your customers will appreciate the videos you take and your potential customers will get a better sense of what you offer and what they might experience if they use your services.

Photo Credit: Nadine Ballantyne

Written by

Stephen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rezgo. He has been working as a travel & tourism technology consultant since 1995. Stephen is active in fostering tourism technology and is a Past Chair of the OpenTravel Alliance. He is also a regular contributor for Tnooz, a leading travel technology media site, and speaks regularly at conferences around the Globe on travel & tourism technology, messaging standards, and industry trends.

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