How to edit travel videos

Good video is all about telling a story and engaging viewers. Ultimately the quality of your final video will depend upon the quality of the raw footage you capture initially. However the way you piece that footage together and build the story can play a huge part. Here are our top editing tips.

Editing software

You don’t need complicated video editing software to put together great travel videos. The templates provided in a simple phone app like iMovie mean anyone can make videos with ease. My daughter recently made a terrific iMovie for a school project following some construction works near our house. She shot it in one afternoon on the iPhone. (I’m a Mac person but I understand Windows Movie Maker is just as simple and easy to use.)

Look for a program that you can understand and find easy to use. If you’re serious consider getting a program like Final Cut Pro. You can also often get free month-long trials of more complex software like Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere.

The tone

Think about what sort of story you want to tell and how you want to make viewers feel. If it’s a happy summery beach holiday vibe, then stick with footage that tells that story. Just because you captured great video of an extraordinary thunder storm, it might not fit with the summery feel you’re seeking. Choose your shots so that they work with the tone of your video and the story you want to tell. Some shots simply won’t fit and you need to be brave enough to leave them out.

Mix it up

Use shots to tell a story. The combination of long shots, medium shots and close ups does this well.

For example the long shot of a subject walking towards a building, followed by a medium shot of the subject buying a ticket and a close up of hands holding a gallery guide will tell you that your subject is visiting a museum.

Mixing up the shots adds interest and variety too.

Short and sweet

Whether we like it or not our concentration spans are decreasing and people simply don’t have the patience to watch long videos any more. So keep your videos to a manageable length. Three minutes is the general rule of thumb. If you have much more content than this consider splitting it into two shorter videos.

Talking heads

Not everyone is a trained TV presenter and long pieces to camera by amateurs can just look and sound silly. Consider instead running a voice over later over the whole video to reiterate your points. Or add graphics – “supers” – over or between footage to further explain the story. This works well if you are covering many places in one video.

Cut carefully

When you cut between camera angles on the same subject or action make sure the shots match, and check for continuity. So if you have two people walking along a beach with person A on the left and person B on the right make sure all shots show them like that unless you see them changing positions.

Add a tune

Using music can improve and enhance a video enormously. It sets a pace for the video, it helps hold the viewers’ attention and can add to the mood and momentum.

Be aware that the rights to music usage can be expensive, even if you are only sharing on private social networks. Check out the “free to use” tracks available on You Tube You can search by genre, mood and duration.

Don’t bin the outtakes

What ends up on the cutting room floor for this video may actually be of use next time around. Copy them to a hard drive for later use.


And if you’re keen on creating travel videos and learning how to make your productions even better, you’d do well to grab a copy of Lonely Planet’s Best Ever Video Tips ($14.99). It’s a very handy little book full of tips from the experts.

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