I covered pretty extensively in this post how you should shoot your travel video in order to get the most out of later on in the editing stage.
If you haven’t checked that article yet please do it and let me know what you guys think. Here’s the link to it again:
This post actually comes as a follow-up to that article.
So you just got back from this amazing trip and you are anxious to download all your travel footage to your computer and put together one of those nice travel videos you see on YouTube.
But where do you start?
What software should you use?
How do you use it?
Is there a standard workflow you need to follow when editing videos?
What are some tips for travel video editing?
If you’re asking yourself all those questions, you are in the right place. I am going to share with you my top tips for editing your travel video. From the very start to the very end.
What video editing software to use
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Personally, I use Vegas Pro for most of my editing, but I often use Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.
These are paid tools that will run you approximately $200-$300 each. Additionally, if you plan on using the Adobe suite you will probably need a powerful video editing computer.
I’m sure there are plenty of other options out there, but these are the ones that I’ve used and recommend. They have plenty of filters and effects you can easily use to enhance your travel video.
If you are serious about editing and you plan on doing more than just a couple of edits, it’s a good idea to invest in pro-level editing software. My top pick would be Adobe’s Premiere Pro in this case.
So you can really step up your video editing all that quickly.
Don’t forget that you will also need a powerful computer which will be able to manipulate large video files. The most important component is the CPU.
Here’s a cool guideline which will walk you through which components you need to buy and how to build your own video editing PC, if you are into that kind of stuff.
Focus on the storyline
I find myself so many times getting lost in technical details such as advanced visual effects, color matching, and grading, making everything look perfect. While the most important thing in any video or film is the storyline.
That’s what touches the viewer. Not the visuals, nor the crisp quality of the video. But the storyline.
Your travel video should tell a story. It should be catchy and be engaging at the same time. So instead of focusing too much on the technical aspects of video editing, try to be creative with the footage you have available and create your own little story.
Think about the message you want to transmit or the emotions you what to bring up to the viewers. That’s what people will relate to and that’s what they will remember after the video is over.
An easy and effective way to create your story is to include plenty of B-roll footage in your video. Here’s what I mean by that.
Let’s say you are going on this amazing hike with your friends. So instead of just including shots of that amazing scenery you can see when you are on the top of the mountain, create a buildup for that.
If the start of the hike is in a remote location, film and include in the video bits and pieces of your commute to that.
Add shots of yourself as you are getting ready for the hike. Shots that show the difficulty of the hike, showing you and your friends as you struggle to climb that mountain.
Include shots of you taking a break or catching your breath, or having lunch on the side of the road. All this will create the buildup for that amazing scenery you get to see from the top of the mountain.
So definitely put more time and thought into the storyline of your travel video or any kind of video you are putting together for that matter.
Video editing workflow
Alright, so now that you’ve picked your video editing software you’re ready to get to work.
The first thing you want to take care of is to organize everything. You probably have a ton of different clips, maybe coming from different cameras such as your phone, GoPro, DSLR, or maybe your drone.
That’s a pain to manage and keep track of when you are editing. So you want to be really organized with everything so that you save time, on one hand. And make sure you don’t forget to include some footage, on the other hand.
What is video editing workflow?
To put it in simple words, it’s just the different steps you take during your video editing process in order to get from the raw original files to the final cut.
There’s not really such a thing as the perfect or the best workflow. Each and every project is different and we all are different, so it’s totally fine and normal for different people to use different editing workflows.
Even so, there are a few general steps that would fit into most editing workflows.
Organize your media
I like to do this no matter how big or small my project is. I have different folders for pretty much everything.
There’s always one folder for footage which will contain different folders for each camera.
Then you want to have one folder for the audio which again can contain several folders for the music, the voice-over, the sound effects, the on-camera sound, and so on.
I always keep a separate folder for my renders and another separate folder for my project files.
In case I’m using After Effects for text overlays or other visuals I also keep a separate folder for the After Effects files.
So most of the time it will look something like this.
With each folder having its own subfolders for all the stuff that I mentioned above.
The project file
Here’s how my workflow looks within the project file.
Once I’m done with my folder structure I open up my project file and I just drag all the footage into the timeline of the sequencer I’m using.
I always like to make sure the project settings match the settings of the footage I’m using. In case I need to have it in a different resolution or frame rate I change than afterward from the project settings menu.
In case you are using Vegas Pro, you always want to check the “Disable resample” option if the source footage and the project settings are not the same frame rate. Otherwise, you will get this blurry-looking image.
Here’s how to do it.
Right-click on the clip and select Properties.
Then in the Video Event check the Disable resample option.
From there on I simply start browsing through all the footage and cut the bits and pieces that will make it to the final video and then go from there.
I don’t delete from the sequencer the parts that I don’t like in the first place simply because I might need them later on in the project. I just put everything further away on the timeline, in the right.
Once I’m done going through the footage I add in the soundtrack and cut that too if needed.
For me picking the right soundtrack is the most important thing for a travel video. That’s why I spend a lot of time searching for that perfect track that matches the feel and vibe I’m after. So definitely don’t rush this step and pick the perfect audio.
Most of the time I let the soundtrack set the rhythm and pace of the video. So I try to select the bits and pieces of footage that go well with the soundtrack and the way it builds up.
Then I also add in any sound effects that I’m going to use. These could be just whoo-shes that will accentuate the transitions or maybe ambient sounds. Such as bird sounds, waterfall sounds or whatever matches your footage and enhances the overall feel of the video.
Most of the time the on-camera sound is quite bad in travel videos so I rely a lot on using sound effects. But if you can use any of the on-camera sounds definitely go ahead. It will add more authenticity to your travel video.
From there I simply go into putting together the actual edit, which leads us to the next section of this post.
Travel video editing tips
With the transitions, the only main thing I try to do is to have them in sync with the music.
So whenever there’s a new phrase in the soundtrack I’m using I might transition to a different scene or a different shot.
I also try to follow the build-up of the soundtrack I’m using with the way I put together the clips. So whenever there’s this massive build-up in the song you are using there should be something worth waiting to happen in your travel video.
For the actual transitions most of the time I just cut right from one clip to the other without using any kind of effects. Other times I use some blending, or maybe zoom transitions. Or whatever looks good or works for that particular scene.
I always like to use slow motion in my edits. I think it makes the footage look more cinematic and epic.
That’s why I recommend shooting at least a few scenes in 120 fps if you can, and definitely shoot everything at 60 fps if the lighting is good.
Color grade & match
Alright, we’ve reached the fun part.
Color grading and color matching are two really, really simple techniques, yet they will make a tremendous impact in the way your videos will look.
Just take a look at this picture below and see for yourself.
What is color grading?
So color grading is the process of manipulating the colors in video or in a picture. So you basically take a raw footage that might look a bit dull and washy and you bring up some of the yellow or red-ish colors to make it look warmer.
Or maybe you make it look a bit more cinematic by making those deep blacks look more like grey and so on and so forth.
Pretty much any free video editing software will allow you to color grade your video. You can play around with the settings of your software to see how everything works or you can use presets.
There is no right or wrong way of doing it, as long as you like it and it looks good. Generally speaking, I found out that for most outdoor shoots if you bring up the exposure, increase the contrast and crank up the saturation you will get a pretty good-looking shot.
But keep in mind that your particular shot might have different colors in it. A different lighting setup. Maybe a lot of white background (such as snow) so you will actually need to approach color grading differently.
If you plan on doing a lot of color grading in post-production you want to shoot your videos in a flat picture style. So that the camera doesn’t enhance or alter any of the natural colors in any way.
If you are using a DSLR, I think the Nikon calls it ‘Flat’ and Canon calls it ‘Neutral’. So look for that in the menu of your camera.
And if you are a GoPro user you have the Protune feature which does pretty much the same thing.
If you use Protone though you will absolutely need to do some serious color grading because everything will look so flat and greyish, almost like a black and white movie.
So GoPro’s Protune is much more drastic than the Flat or Neutral picture styles from the DSLRs.
Here is a really cool video explaining how Protune works.
If you want to learn more about color grading, here is a fairly comprehensive guideline by Premium Beat.
What is color matching?
Color matching is the process of color grading two or more different videos so that they have the same kind of look and feel. Most of the time the videos that you need to color match will come out of different cameras.
Because each camera is different, the shots will look more or less different as well. So when you are using clips from different devices to put together your travel video, you will notice that maybe the GoPro video will have a stronger yellow color your iPhone video will be darker and your DSLR video will look too flat.
So you will end up with a bunch of different bits and pieces that don’t look alike at all. That’s when color matching comes into place. With color matching, you need to pick a certain coloring that you are happy with. And then bring all these videos to that specific coloring.
Most video editing software such as Premiere Pro has built-in functions which makes the color matching process easier. Here’s how it works.
I think the most important thing when it comes to editing travel videos is the storyline.
Have that figured out and the rest will fall into its place.
It doesn’t really matter what software you will be using. It matters how you will use it.
Make sure you organize everything well and you don’t leave any of the footage out.
Then select a soundtrack that goes well with your travel and sets the mood nicely.
Add sound effects wherever appropriate or use on-camera sounds.
Lastly but not least finish it up by color grading and matching everything.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.