Many of us drag our home video camera all around with us on our trip, and spend much of our time documenting our trip on video, only to have the video then put into a drawer when we get home and never viewed again or, when we have friends over and invite them to watch the video it is so dull and boring that every one falls a sleep watching the 20 minutes of video taken as you rode the tender into port. You home movies don’t have to be this boring. As a college student I earned a degree in communication. As part of my studies, I took courses in television and video production. In the 16 years since graduation, Ive utilized these techniques to make my own family home videos more entertaining. Here are some tips to help you make a more exciting version of your vacation video.
Edit Your Video!!!
I highly recommend that you edit your home movies for time and content. Editing of home videos using the manual process, though a little tedious, provides a significantly improved end product. To edit manually, you can connect your camcorder to a VCR using RCA cables. Then use fast forward and reverse on the camcorder to select the scenes you want. Record them in a sequential order on a VHS tape. Though a cumbersome process, you can condense about 2 or 3 hours of video down to 30-45 minutes. You can also skip over and leave out un-wanted content. Almost every home movie has 5 minutes of video where the camera is left on and pointing at the ground, or the drunk uncle who gives the finger to the camera. You can edit these bloopers out of your final product and only include the best video.
Two years ago I made the switch to digital video and computer editing. Digital video cameras and computer editing software are now affordable for many consumers. The DV cameras now sell for under $1000. Computers with enough memory and disc space to accommodate the video editing application are also available for purchase under $1000. Several different applications are available for purchase at your local electronics or computer store. I use Ulead Video Studio 9. This application allows me to upload raw video to the computer, auto-split into scenes, and then utilize a story board screen to arrange the scenes. I can add narration, music, titles, and transitions. When Im finished with the production, I burn the video to a DVD complete with professional looking menus.
If editing your video is the most important element then the second most important element is content. Youll want to think about what you want to include in your video and make sure to have your camera with you to capture it. Here are some of the things on cruise vacation that you might want to include on your video.
One of the best times to take a video tour of the ship is when you first board the ship. So pack your video camera in your carry-on. As you walk around acquainting yourself with the ship, stop at the points of interest and get some nice shots of the different venues on the ship. The public rooms on the ship are usually not crowded at this time, so this is a great time to get panoramic views.
On board activities
If you go out to check out the pool Olympics, Harry Chest contest, or the Limbo Contest bring your camera to capture the fun. If you are participating the activity, get someone else in your party to capture the action.
Passenger Talent Show
If you are participating in the show make sure someone in your party has the camera and captures not only you, but some of the other contestants. When you edit your video you can feature highlights of the other performances and your complete performance
While you cant video the production shows, there is lots of other entertainment that you’ll want to showcase in you video. If you love the Piano Player or the Big Band Orchestra, be sure to capture their performance.
The Martini Bar or Specialty Bartender
If your ship has a Tom Cruise Cocktail style bartender, don’t miss him in action. If the ship is more subdued, but still makes a Martini an event, be sure to capture all the mixing, shaking and pouring for your home video
Ports & Shore Excursions
No matter where you travel, you’ll want to capture your shore experience. If you simply go to a resort or a beach be sure to get video of the location. Does the port town have any famous landmarks? You may be able to capture the landmarks right from the ships. Taking a Helicopter ride? You’ll definitely want to take your video camera along. While some activities like white water rafting don’t lend them selves to video taping, you may be able to figure out a way to video tape portions of you active excursions. Sometimes the simplest activities like a enjoying a drink at a port cafe make the best memories, so don’t overlook the chance to capture these types of low key activities.
Special Buffets, Food Displays, or Food Parades
Cruise ships are famous for their food displays, and they often open the displays for photography 15 minutes before opening them for eating. Often waiters walk around with special food displays like a Parade of Melons or Baked Alaska. If you enjoy these types of activities, be sure to keep your camcorder handy.
Be sure capture your friends and family as they croon or croak their way through a song on Karaoke Night.
Some of the kids activities, like a skit or talent show are ideal for your home video.
Be sure to capture you husband in his Tuxedo, or your son all dressed up in a suit. They may never be that dressed up again. Your daughter will want to see the video of her on her first formal night. And guys, don’t forget to get some nice shots of your wife in her favorite gown. People look their best on formal night, so make sure you capture the memory.
Interviews with your family
Interview your friends and family reality TV style. Have them sit down with the camera and talk about the days events and activities. With fancy editing you can inter-cut some of these activities with their interview.
Interviews with your new cruise ship friends
Don’t forget to talk with your new friends from the cruise. Its nice preserve the memories of the varied and interesting people that you will meet on a cruise ship.
Tips for taking Quality Video
If you can fit a tripod in your luggage, bring it! This will allow you the most steady shots of your subject. This is especially helpful when you are zooming in on a subject and want to reduce camera jiggle. Most cameras now have some sort of steady shot feature which is helpful if you cant pack your tripod, but you will loose some over all quality of picture when you use that feature. When you utilize the tripod, you can include yourself in your video also.
Don’t Over Pan or Over Zoom
Nothing looks worse than a 360 degree pan of a harbor that goes by so fast that you need Dramamine to watch the video. Instead, first take a look with your own eyes and pre-plan your shot. Slowly pan from one point of interest to another. Many of us see something that is interesting while panning, swing back to it and then zoom in on the object. The appropriate way to do this is to continue the pan. Then stop recording. Point the camera back at your subject of interest then zoom in on it. Start recording for a few seconds, then slowly zoom out to give perspective to your object. You can also alternate between a wide shot and tight shot. But don’t go zoom happy and in one shot zoom in an out on different things. Watching something like this on TV can be nauseating.
Follow the jet ski or speed boat as it crosses the harbor. If a local dance group comes onboard to perform and you’re allowed to film, capture their performance. Don’t forget the conga line or the line dances at the evening parties.
Watch You Lighting
Some of the evening venues can be very dimly lit. Learn what setting on your camera work best in dim lighting. Don’t be deceived by back lighting. Your camera may indicate that you have enough lighting for a certain shot, but make sure that the lighting is either behind the camera, or between the subject and the camera lighting the front of the subject. Nothings worse than watching a video of silhouettes.
Don’t forget about live Audio
When the Reggae band is playing at a sail away party, go ahead and film them singing an entire song. You can then cut back and forth between the band song and the other action when you edit with one continuous sound track.
Dub your Video with Exciting Music
Classical style movie sound tracks often add a little variety and anticipation to what might otherwise be dull video. You can also include a variety of genres that suit your cruise theme. For a Mexican cruise you might want to include Mariachi music or beach music with references to Mexico, Margaritas, or Beer. For a Danube rive cruise Mozart and Strauss might be the most appropriate. For a Hawaiian cruise, anything Hawaiian from Elvis to Lilo and Stitch might suit your video. For the Caribbean you might want to pick up a Bob Marley CD and include a little reggae. On your Argentine cruise video you could include anything from Evita to some wonderful tango music. Use your imagination and pick music that suits your mood on the cruise. Include different kinds of music that you like, rock, pop, classical, country, oldies Again, its your video so match the music to your personality. The music will help convey your memories to others.
Don’t forget to enjoy your Vacation
Remember you’re not Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson, making the next epic. You are on vacation, so don’t go so overboard with these suggestions that you forget to enjoy your cruise. Keep these tips in mind so that you’ll better preserve your memories, but don’t forget to create the memories in the first place.