Document Your Adventures: How to Film and Edit a Travel Montage | Dandan Liu | Skillshare

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Document Your Adventures: How to Film and Edit a Travel Montage

teacher avatar Dandan Liu, Filmmaker | Contemplative Creative

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Course Intro


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Cinematography Overview


    • 4.

      Being Aware of Light


    • 5.

      Setting Up Your Tripod


    • 6.

      Composing Your Images


    • 7.

      Camera Mechanics


    • 8.

      Setting Exposure


    • 9.



    • 10.



    • 11.

      ND Filter


    • 12.

      Exposure Recap


    • 13.

      Camera Conclusion


    • 14.

      Music Selection


    • 15.

      Intro to Editing


    • 16.

      The Premiere Pro Interface


    • 17.

      Importing Footage


    • 18.

      Setting Up A Select's Sequence


    • 19.

      Creating a Rough Cut


    • 20.

      Adding Transitions


    • 21.

      Leveling Audio


    • 22.



    • 23.

      Rwanda Travel Montage Final Version


    • 24.

      Travel montage course conclusion


    • 25.

      Join my Teahouse of Wonder


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About This Class

This course teaches you how to create a travel montage, a poetic film that stitches together all of your favorite filmed memories taken on your adventures. Contrary to what you might think, making a travel montage is not difficult, but a fantastic way to learn how to film and edit. Whether it's with your iPhone or dSLR, this course will teach you step-by-step all you need to know: how to compose, shoot, and edit your own artistic travel film. 

By the end of this course, you will have a travel montage ready to post and share with your friends and family. Souvenirs don't get better than this!

Meet Your Teacher

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Dandan Liu

Filmmaker | Contemplative Creative

Top Teacher

Hi there! I’m Dandan, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and contemplative creative living in Italy. 

As a self-taught filmmaker, I love foraging for unique stories around the world that illuminate the interconnections among us. I started making films while on a 4 year journey living in monasteries around the world. One film led to the next, and after persevering for many years, I found myself working full time on film crews and streaming my films on Roku, Apple TV, museums, trains, and airplanes. 

My highest work is helping others craft an authentic, creative, and mindful life- your unique work of art. I believe that knowing who you truly are is the foundation for flourishing in every area of life. So, I founded Unravel, a playful journ... See full profile

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1. Course Intro: When we come back from our travels, our memories are often saturated with the, colors, smells, textures, faces, landscapes, and hearts that we have encountered on the journey. Even if we've captured these with hundreds of photographs, it's still difficult to describe what the experience was like to friends and family. [MUSIC] Rather than just coming back with a bunch of random photos, imagine showing your friends and family a beautiful short film that makes all of your memories come alive. This is what this course is all about. [MUSIC] Making a travel montage, which poetically stitches together all of your film memories over music. [MUSIC] Contrary to what you might think, making a travel montage is not difficult. Instead, it can be a fantastic opportunity to learn how to film and edit. This course, will show you how teaching you step by step, how to use your video camera, how to compose your image, and how to edit it altogether with Adobe Premier Pro. By the end of this course, you will have all the knowledge and a complete road map needed to make your traveled montage. Let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. Equipment: For this course, you will need a video camera and a tripod. Use any lines you have, but if you want some recommendations, check out the equipment PDF on the project's page. I'll be teaching the film making part based on a DSLR. But if you want to use your iPhone or a more basic point and shoot camera, feel free to jump to the composition and editing sections. 3. Cinematography Overview: Let's talk about Cinematography. To teach you about Cinematography, we will talk about developing a good eye for lighting and composition. Then, we will talk about the mechanics of using your camera where I layout a simple five-step method you can use to shoot beautiful images. A good starting point to learn about lighting and composition is to look at the top three things that make images look bad. Here are the top three things that are common when you are starting out. Number one, overexposure. This means that your image is too bright so that many tones in your image loose color and look white. Shaky footage. While some handshake can land itself to a certain look in storytelling, when it's not intentional, it can make a film look amateur. Number three, bad composition or when you are not aware of what's in your frame and how things are laid out inside of it. Let's address each of these issues and learn about their solutions. 4. Being Aware of Light: Let's begin with overexposure. When you're outdoor shooting, the main thing to watch out for, are hot spots when parts of your image are too bright that they lose color and turn white. These are real image killers and are especially prevalent among beginner filmmakers on bright sunny days. To solve this, either decrease the brightness of your image, which we will talk about later, or find a shadier area to film. However, during the sunny days, I love filming during magic hour, the time shortly after sunrise or right before sunset. During this time, the light is diffuse, nothing is really blown out and the colors intensify beautifully. If it's a cloudy day, don't fret. Clouds actually can act as your best friend by softening the sunlight so that if falls nice and even on your subject. In contrast with a sunny day, you would get good light throughout the day as long as it's not too dark in the early morning or late afternoon. 5. Setting Up Your Tripod: Now let's address the second big problem with filming. Shaky footage. To solve this problem, simply place your camera on a tripod with these steps. Please camera on tripod plate with the coin. Placed tripod plate on tripod. Adjust height of legs so that your tripod is level. You can check to see whether tripod is level by looking at the bubble. If it's inside the circle, it's level. Tripods will also have knobs to adjust the tilt and pan. Tilt is when you move your camera up and down. Pan is when you move your camera from side to side. 6. Composing Your Images: Even if you set your camera on a tripod, and there's nice light, your image will likely not look good if there is bad composition. Composition is how things in your frame are placed throughout the space, and bad composition comes from when you're not aware what's in your frame and what you're trying to communicate in your scene. Here are three tips. When you feel drawn to record what you are seeing, ask yourself, what exactly in the scene pulls me to record it? Is it this person's expression? Is it the color of the spices in the market stall? Is it the shape of the bamboo boats? Once you've identified what's pulling me so much, choose your camera positioning to maximize the focus of the primary element and remove anything unnecessary that can distract from this focus. Two, be aware of the background, once you've position your frame, notice if there's anything cut off awkwardly in your frame, where if there are any distractions that take the viewer away from what you want to show. Either move the distractions away or move your camera for a better frame. Third, don't cut at joints, otherwise your frame will look like the awkward family photos your parents used to take while on vacation. One last composition tip known as the rule of thirds. While most people tend to put the most important subject in the middle of their frame, it looks more balanced when you put the most important subject at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal thirds. 7. Camera Mechanics: Now that we've addressed composition, lighting, and [inaudible] stability, let's dive right into the mechanics of camera operation. We're first going to learn how to set the basic settings for your camera manually and then I will introduce a simple five-step method you can use to make sure you're getting proper exposure for your shots. Let's first take care of the camera basics. First, insert a memory card. I recommend at least a 36th gigabyte memory card. Second, set your camera to manual movie mode. Third, go through camera menu and set your file type to dot MOV size 1920 by 1080, Fourth, set your frame rate to 23.97 or 24 frames per second. Now with these basic set, let's go through my simple four-step method to shooting with it manually. Set white balance, set shutter speed to 148th or 150th of a second. Set Aperture, and adjust ISO. 8. Setting Exposure: The first is white balance, and on your camera, you should find a little button that says WB on it. Colors look different depending on the environment. For example, the color white, will look more bluish if you're shooting on a cloudy day, whereas it will look more orange if you're shooting by a candle. When you set the white balance, you're properly calibrating your camera, to set the proper colors, by telling it what shooting environment you are filming in. Your camera should have presets based on a few circumstances. Like whether you are shooting on a sunny day, cloudy day, in the shade, or indoors. To set your white balance, simply select the shooting setting that matches yours. Now, let's talk about the last three steps. As you can see, all of these steps form a group called the exposure triangle. They determine how much light is let into your camera, and therefore how bright your images is. Let's talk about the most straightforward exposure setting. Shutter speed. When you take a photo, there's a shutter in front of your camera sensor, which opens and closes to let light into the sensor. When filming, you want to set a constant shutter speed, which is set as a standard in cinema, at twice your frame rate. Because you set your frame rate to 24 frames per second, as we mentioned in our previous lesson, you want to set your shutter speed to 1/48th or 1/50th of a second. 9. Aperture: With shutter speed and check, let's talk about the next two components, aperture and ISO. While the previous settings we talked about state constant, you will have to continually adjust aperture and ISO while filming. Let's dive into aperture, the second component of exposure. Your lens has a hole in the middle, which lets light in. Aperture is how big this hole is, and the size of this hole is known as your f-stop. If you scroll through the aperture will on your camera, you'll see numbers or sizes ranging from f/1.4 to f/16. The smaller your f-stop number, the larger this whole is, the brighter your image becomes, and the more blurry the background will appear. So besides determining how much light goes into your camera, aperture also determines how much of your image is in focus, also called the depth of field. If you want everything in your frame to be in-focus, I recommend an aperture of f/8 or higher. If you want your subject to be in focus with a blurred background, what we call a shallow depth of field, I recommend getting closer to your subject and setting an aperture of f/4 or lower. It's important that you get closer to your subject for a shallow depth of field as if you're too far, you still see the background in focus. In other words, the more distance between your subject and the background, the more the background will appear out of focus. Setting the f-stop will also depend on how bright your image will be. For example, if I want a shallow depth of field and set it to f/4, but it is still too dark. I would reduce my f-stop to an f/2.8, which would let more light in and make my image brighter, but still give me that shallow depth of field. On the other side, if I'm in an f/8, which makes everything in my frame in focus but I see that my image is too bright, I might raise my aperture to an f/11, which still would show everything in focus, but let less light in and make my image darker. When you see a shot, you want to film, play with your aperture until you get the right depth of field and your image isn't too bright or too dark. Sometimes, adjusting your image brightness while keeping your desired depth of field is difficult. For example, if it's a sunny day and I want a blurry background, raising my initial aperture of f/4 to f/16, will darken my image, but make me lose the blurry background. If it seems to be a struggle, now is the time to adjust your ISO, which we will talk about in the next lesson. 10. ISO: The last setting in this exposure group is ISO. ISO determines how sensitive you camera sensor is to light. If you scroll through the ISO wheel in your camera, you'll see that it has numbers ranging typically from 200 to 3200. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive you camera sensor is to light, and the brighter your image becomes. If you set your aperture the way you like it. It has a right amount of blurriness, but the image is not bright or dark enough. You can raise or lower your ISO. For example, if you set your image at an f/4, it has the right depth of field that you're looking for, but it's too dark. I would then raise my ISO higher to let more light in. However, there is a catch. Typically, when you raise your ISO above 1600, the camera creates more noise in your image. If you reached the lowest aperture, you camera can go and raised your ISO to the highest, but you see some noise. Then choose a brighter location to film or a brighter time of day. When you're starting out, I recommend setting your ISO to 400 as a baseline, then making adjustments depending on the light of your setting. 11. ND Filter: There's another catch with ISO which pertains to when you're shooting on a bright sunny day, sometimes on a bright sunny day, when you want to keep a shallow depth of field, even if you lower your ISO and therefore lowing your camera sensitivity to light, your image is still too bright. When that happens, use an ND filter, which are darkened transparent surfaces you screw onto your lens to let less light in. This way, you can keep a shallow depth of field on a bright day without needing to increase your F stop. 12. Exposure Recap: Here is a mnemonic device to help you memorize these five steps: Friendly walruses, see, all, ignorance. That was a lot to take in. To make it easier for you, I've created a simple streamline checklist you can use on your shoots to make sure that you're not forgetting anything. 13. Camera Conclusion: At this stage, we finished the first part of the course, which addresses film-making. We've gone over how to set up your camera, how to set proper exposure, and a few tips on lighting and composition. By now, you're ready to go out there and film your travels. In the next section, we'll go over editing where you'll learn how to stitch all of your film memories together over music. 14. Music Selection: The first part of editing is to choose a piece of music that will form the spine of your film. I recommend choosing a shorter piece of music, one that's between one and two minutes long, so that your film will have plenty of momentum. There are a few music banks online. These vary in quality and price, but my favorite is Audio Network because it provides variations of a piece you like. Others include Musicbed and PremiumBeat. Youtube also has a place where you can find free music. In all of these sources, you can filter the songs based on the mood, instrument, intensity, and rhythm. Have fun with the search. Dance to some songs along the way and make your choice. 15. Intro to Editing: Now that you've chosen your music track, it's time to open up the Adobe Premiere Pro editing program. If you don't have it installed. You can download it as a 30 day free trial on the website. 16. The Premiere Pro Interface: When you open up the Premiere Pro interface, it should look something like this. This is your workspace and it is comprised of four main areas. The first is a Window where you can preview all of your video and audio files before deciding to drag them into your timeline. The second is the timeline and it is the place of action. Here is where you'll be placing your clips, making cuts, and dragging them back and forth. The third place is your monitor, which plays back all of your sequences in the timeline. Then you have your project bin, which holds all of your project files. Then you have your toolbar, which contains all the tools you need to cut your clips and order them on the timeline. Finally, you have the audio meter to your right, and this will tell you the decibel levels of your audio. 17. Importing Footage: So when you opened up your Premiere Pro App, you should get an interface that looks like this, in which you will start your new project. So to do this, "Click" New Project and title it Your Travel Montage. Choose a location that it will be saved and press okay. Now you have a beautiful blank slate from which to work from in Premiere. The first thing we will do is import all of our footage into nicely organized files. So to do this, create one folder and title it video. Create another folder and call this music. Then add one more folder and entitle this, slugs, which you will see what it's for later down the road. Now start importing all of your video files into the video folder. You can break this down into sub folders based on the day you shot or the place or the event. So here I'm going to import my Rwanda footage from my hard drive. I will begin by importing the folder that says Rulindo and press Import. You'll find that once it finishes importing, sometimes you'll get this file import failure box, just press okay and disregard it because everything is here. As you can see, all of my clips are nicely laid out in this folder. So continue doing this until all of your footage is uploaded in your video folder and your music track is in your music folder and you're all set to go to begin your edit. 18. Setting Up A Select's Sequence: After you have imported and organized your footage into the folders in the project bin, now it's time to look through all the footage you recorded and cut the best moments out of them, and organize these moments into categories. It will be easier for you to find these clips to pull them out when you are making your actual cut. To do this, I like to create a new sequence called selects. As you can see, I have cut all of my favorite moments from the footage and label them according to the categories. Here I have the selected clips of nature. Here I have one of the T landscape. Here, I have street scenes and so forth. So to do this, you want to click your "Sequences" folder and create a new sequence by going to File and sequence. Then choose a setting that matches your recording format. For me, it's AVCHD 1080 24P and if you don't know the format you recorded, don't worry, just click one, name it. Here I will name it selects. If you're not sure which format you recorded in, once you drag your footage and onto this timeline, that time on will automatically conform to the format that you shot in. Now it's time to drag all the footage that you've shot onto this timeline, and to do this, open up your footage and so what I like to do is click and select all of these clips. Click and drag all of these onto the timeline and sometimes you will have an error message pop up, which you can just disregard and I will continue doing this process until all of my footage is laid out on this timeline. Then what I will do is I will play through each of them and cut out my favorite moments. For example, here you'll see that in this clip there is camera setup, which is unusable until you get to about here and I like the look of this. So I am going to make a cut by using the razor tool here or pressing "C" and finding the endpoint of the clip, which is about here, but before I search to move positions. I will clip here and delete this. To switch between the razor blade tool and select tool so you can move your clip, press "V", or click this button. Now, I have dug out my favorite part in this clip and I will continue scanning through the rest of my footage until I have dug out all the best usable moments. Then what I like to do is I like to group them according to the topic, so it becomes easy to find once I'm actually making the real edit. For example, here I have a lot of nature clips, and so what I will do is I will create a label for this group of clips. So it becomes easy for me to reference and to do this, click on the folder that you've created called slugs. Go to File, New, Transparent video, and make sure it matches your footage settings, which should be 1920 by 1080 at 23.976 frames per second and keep this pixel aspect ratio at square pixels and click "OK". Then, as you can see, it creates a new transparent video in your slug folder and simply write the name of the label that you are creating. So here, call it nature, click and drag, and drag it over your group of clips. So go ahead and do that for all of your footage and I will see you in the next lesson. 19. Creating a Rough Cut: After you've gone through all of your footage and created a catalog of usable clips, which are all labeled according to category, now is a time to build your actual edit. To do this, click on your sequences folder and start a new sequence. As we have done already, name the sequence Rough Cut and hit, ''Okay''. As you can see, I have this brand new timeline and this will be the playground for you to pull clips from your selects and arrange them and rearrange them onto this timeline. The first thing that you can do is dragging you music file which will be the spine of your film. To do this, go to your audio file and pull in your music file by clicking and dragging it to the audio channel. As you can see here on the left, your timeline is broken down into an audio section where you drag your audio clips. In this case you music, and a video section where you will drag in your video clips. To enlarge the timeline, you can click the plus sign. This will allow you to zoom into your timeline, and as you can see here is the length of the sequence. Now comes the fun part, which will take some time as you go through your catalog of usable clips and play and build a visual sequence. For this process, I like to set in place first an image that is visually captivating that will open up the film. When I was going through my footage and creating the select sequence, I was really drawn to this clip of these boys pushing this wooden bicycle that they made. I love the colors, I love the movement, and I thought it would be a great way to open up the scene. To place this clip on your rough cut, click on the clip, and copy it. Then go to your rough cuts sequence. I like to place the music track on track 2, because you'll find that a lot of clips recorded on your camera will already come with the audio attached. Paste by pressing Control V. Later on, you can decide to keep this audio or remove it. You can adjust the length of the clip by dragging its ends. It looks something like this. We have a good starting point, and I will repeat this process and play and rearrange the clips until I've overlaid the entire music track with footage. If you don't want the audio present, you can right-click and press unlink and delete the sound. You just hear the music playing, which I prefer when making travel montages. Or if you want to play with the volume of the sound and make it softer, you can do this by clicking the middle line in your audio clip and reducing it. Go ahead, take some time and rearrange your clips until you have overlaid your entire music track with footage. A good piece of advice for making travel montages is to cut the clip according to the beat of your music. For example, when I play my song. As you can hear the song, every time you hear new beat of the music, would be a good time to add in a new clip. For example, here I have this clip of the shepherd boy. I'm going to copy it and paste it. I'm going to start at the beat of the music. Right there is when a new beat comes in, and I will put that entrance of the clip there. It looks like this, and here another beat of the music comes in, so I will add another clip. Go ahead and do this until you have a sequence that looks like this where your whole music track is overlaid with footage, and I will see you in the next lesson to see how we can refine this by adding transitions. 20. Adding Transitions: Congratulations for making it this far. I hope you are feeling excited now as you're starting to see your film takes shape. As of this point, you should have a version of your film in which your whole music track is overlaid with clips that are already cut. Now is a time where you can refine the cuts by adding transitions. For example, slow dissolves, which is when a shot slowly fades into the next, or dip to blacks. When a shot gradually emerges into your film, just like that. So to do this, you will need to open up the effects panel. So go to Window and click on effects, and as you can see here, you have audio transitions and video transitions, and the one that we're really looking for is the video transitions, and as you can see here, you have many types of transitions. I think the most elegant ones are the ones in the dissolve folder, and two that I used all the time are the cross dissolve, which is when, one shot slowly fades into the other and dip to black, and dip to black as a great way for you to introduce your film and end your film. So the beginning and end, don't look so abrupt. So for example, here I have the ending clip and it just turns into black abruptly. So instead, if I added dip to black, and lengthen it by zooming in and dragging the transition. So it's longer, then it looks something like this. So go ahead and add a few transitions onto your video clips so that they're a little more refined, and I will see you in the next lesson. 21. Leveling Audio : The final step to creating your travel montage, is to make sure that your music is not playing too loud or too soft, this is where you will need to expand your audiometer on the side. The standard range for music, is between negative six and negative 12 decibels. To check to see whether your music is not range, just play and check whether the sound is primarily bouncing between negative six and negative 12 decibels. If it's too loud or too soft, simply tweak the audio level by moving the audio bar in the center up or down until you sound balances between negative 12 and negative six. 22. Export!: Awesome. We are now ready to release our film into the world by exporting it. To do this, it's very simple. Move the playhead of your sequence to the beginning of your clip and press I. As you'll see, this will mark the beginning point of the export. Then move your playhead to the end of the clip and press O which tells the program where you want the export to stop. Then go to File, export Media, sometimes this message about the offline material comes up and just hit Okay H.264 is a good format for you to export in. Output name is where you name the file. So here I will put Rwanda travel film, save. Make sure both video and audio are being checked. Check to see that your width is 1,920 and your height is 1,080. For bitrate encoding I like to do two pass and hit Export. Once it finishes processing and exporting it, you have a beautiful film ready to post and share. 23. Rwanda Travel Montage Final Version: Without further ado, here is what my Rwanda travel montage look like. 24. Travel montage course conclusion: Congratulations on finishing this course. I hope that by now, you feel excited and ready to go out there and start filming your travels. I couldn't imagine a better souvenir than this. A travel montage to transport your friends and family back to the cherished memories you encountered on your journey. If you have any remaining questions, feel free to send them my way and please post your travel montage on the Course Projects page. We'd love to see your adventures. If you'd like to further your film-making and editing journey. I also invite you to check out my other courses on my Teacher Profile page. Like my popular 10 minute film-making booster class, which shares nine game-changing tricks used in the industry you can apply straight away to take your film-making to another level. Thank you so much for taking your time with me.I wish you all the best for your travels, and to create a film-making journey. 25. Join my Teahouse of Wonder: [MUSIC] If you enjoyed this class, I invite you to leave a review and sign up for my newsletter. This is not your ordinary newsletter, but instead, a virtual teahouse of wonders where I share curative inspiration, behind the scenes updates, and more high-value resources on the art of authentic creative within. It is my most intimate space to spoil my readers with delight. Sign up to receive on my course instructor page. [MUSIC]