Traveling to new and unfamiliar places, especially with family, can give us many cherished memories to look back on. While we’re enjoying the moment with the ones we love, it can be difficult to keep the presence of mind needed to capture those memories in all their striking —even action-packed— intensity. But, when well shot, family videos are the most immediate and vicarious ways of preserving and reliving our fondest memories.
But, you don’t need a degree in cinematography or highly specialized video software to start taking and making amazing family vacation videos. No matter what device you’re using to make a record of your travels as a family, with the tips I’ve outlined here and (a little bit of easy video editing, if you’re up for it), you can start capturing those memories in high-quality for you and your family to come back to again and again.
One great thing about modern videography is how it has allowed us to capture so much more from moment to moment than has ever been possible before, and things like social media and cloud storage give us a place to store it all.
Having lots of footage is useful since even professionals don’t take world-class compositions with every shot. So, it’s even better that we can curate the highlights from all of the family vacation videos we take with easy-to-use video software apps like Magisto. With those basics in mind, filming and video editing tips we practiced on our trips that you can use to capture and create timeless videos of your next family trip.
Start With Candid Shots To Capture Genuine Emotion
This first rule holds especially true for filming your kids. Whether you’re traveling to your destination or you’ve already arrived, be sure to have your camera ready to capture the first looks on your children’s faces as they take in the wondrous sites and exciting places you visit or pass by on your journey.
A quick finger on the record button can save you the trouble of having to tell your kids to smile or act for the video for a staged video after those first, crucial moments pass. By taking videos first, you’ll be capturing the genuine excitement they have for the start of a new day.
You’ll also save yourself the stress of not having the footage you hoped for and the trouble of carrying the camera around the whole time waiting for the perfect shot. Even if these candid opening videos aren’t perfect, you’ll be able to cut and crop them later with video software, and it’s the only way you’re going to
Set their expectations and tell your kids that you will start by taking videos first and that you want them to go out and enjoy in front of the camera without waiting for you to finish. Let them know that once you’re done taking some videos, you can give them your full attention to play with them and help them explore.
For organic footage, you can follow them around or get your partner to help you by having them walk ahead with the kids or be the one to play with them while you film. One way to get your kids to candidly verbalize what’s on their minds and what they’re feeling is to ask them simple questions on camera, like, “Where are we going?”, “Where are we now?” or “What are you doing?”
Staging Footage A Little Is Okay
Of course, you want to capture as many smiling, cheerful memories as you can, but it’s important not to pressure these reactions out of your family for every shot. This will keep your footage as authentic as possible.
But that’s not to say there’s no reason ever to ask them to give you the biggest smile they can muster. Done sparingly, you can coax your kids to put on their brightest smiles with genuine enthusiasm, even if they wouldn’t have been grinning so widely otherwise.
Shoot With Multiple Devices
This helps for recording as much varied footage as possible and works best with phones that can record high-quality video. If you plan on splicing videos from different devices later with video editing, be sure to have all of your devices recording with the same aspect ratio to avoid any jarring change in resolution or video quality when switching from one device’s perspective to another.
If you can’t record on all of your devices in the same aspect ratio, VideoStudio Ultimate 2021 has a resize feature getting a consistent picture size.
Don’t be afraid of splicing videos from phones with those taken with more specialized equipment, like DSLR Cameras, either. You want to take videos of your vacation as it happens with whatever you have on hand; plus, phone videos have a more natural and personal feeling to them that any video montage will benefit a lot from.
You can make your kids a part of the storytelling by letting them hold your phone and take videos after you’ve shown them what they need to aim the camera at.
This lets you be in the photo without having to take a selfie or ask for help from a nearby guide or stranger, and it gives your kids something they can look forward to; they might even start keeping their eyes peeled for picture-perfect opportunities. One neat trick you can learn to do with multiple video sources is how to overlay a video on a video to simultaneously appreciate multiple perspectives.
Shoot With A Lens
There have been many improvements to video software technology, but there’s no post-processing substitute for high visual fidelity. Video editing can help make a low-quality video look better. Still, it’s never going to be able to accomplish the level of quality you’d get with a good camera lens. This point applies equally to lenses for DSLR cameras and to lenses designed for mounting onto your phone.
If you haven’t already got a lens, you have the option of renting or buying. If your family goes on frequent trips, consider getting your lenses. DSLR lenses can run you anywhere from $300 to over $1000, so these should be chosen with much care and deliberation; phone camera lenses can cost as little as just over $10 up to $250.
On the other hand, you should be able to find somewhere you can rent a lens at your destination. If you’re planning to rent a camera lens, be sure to contact the rental store in advance so you can inquire about and prepare all the requirements you might need for taking out a camera rental.
Take Every Opportunity To Record
Traveling in a foreign country has innate novelty because you’re doing just that: walking the streets, seeing the sights, and savoring the culture of another country.
So, whether you’re doing something exciting and planned, or something mundane and spontaneous —if you can— find time to capture the moment with your family. You won’t regret having a wealth of these little peaks into your time abroad.
Film Your Footage In Short Clips
When you’re recording, it may seem like you need to keep the camera running for several minutes, but, from my personal experience, sitting down to watch later videos longer than a couple of minutes can feel sluggish and uneventful.
Maybe it’s just my preference for short-form content like TikTok videos and YouTube shorts. Still, filming in 30-60 second segments (most of the time) made each video much easier to enjoy.
Find Shots That Capture What Make Traveling Special
It’s not too difficult to get an idea of where you’ll find these shots. If you’re taking any tours or seeing any popular tourist destinations, you’ll likely be stopping at locations specifically chosen for their picturesque qualities.
When you’re at these destinations, keep an especially keen eye for shots with the best composition.
Don’t Forget To Get Footage Time Spent Traveling
Whether it’s while waiting at the airport carousel right after getting off the plane, on the speeding train, or on a tour bus, it can be somewhat enjoyable to downright uncomfortable at the time. Still, you’ll appreciate having footage of it when you look back years later.
Keep Montages Short
When video editing, I tend to keep the total video length to around 6 minutes, occasionally longer, but never over 10 minutes.
Get A Waterproof Camera Case
Even if you don’t plan on visiting the beach or heading into the hotel pool, a waterproof phone case will help by ensuring you can take out your phone in an instant, even in the rain or snow.
If you do plan on heading into the water, you’ll have a lot of versatility in filming underwater.
If you have to ask whether you should be filming or not, you should be filming. Don’t worry about how much footage you’re recording; you’ll regret 100% of the footage you didn’t take. Having too much footage is a good thing.
Shoot horizontally rather than vertically. Vertically shot footage is hard to view on TV and computer screens since it shows up in the center of the screen surrounded by empty black space.
Be spontaneous with your filming, but plan your trips carefully, so you know what to expect and leave as little to chance as possible. Check out the itineraries for family holiday trips to London and Italy if you prefer a trip to Europe over Asia.