The YouTube Challenge – Meilei & Eric’s Travel Videos!

Yes, my fiance and I decided to start a YouTube channel as a hobby while we travel.  We think it’s a waste that we are spending much time abroad to find a suitable location to live and travel for awhile and not share it ^_^

Meilei’s Travels YouTube Channel

Both our parents don’t read my blog but they do spend a lot of time on YouTube (aka parent-sitter haha).  So it’s another great way to literally show what we’re up to and what they’re missing out on!

I’ll be honest, I’m quite camera shy and the way I speak isn’t music to everyone’s ears.. but I’m glad Eric didn’t mind being filmed.  He comes up with most of the content and all I do is shoot, edit and upload.  Although, I did study Multimedia in Media Studies it takes many skills and organisation to make a good video!  I know  in our case, we skipped pre-production and went straight to production when we’re in the mood!

During film break on Batu Ferringhi Beach in Penang Island, Malaysia.

During film break on Batu Ferringhi Beach in Penang Island, Malaysia.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome it (or not)?

Meilei (camera-woman)

As a naturally shy girl, the biggest challenge for me was actually filming in public.  I felt embarrassed and I’m not a fan of drawing attention.  I’d always rush it and tried to give up many times because I felt too embarrassed and wanted to get it over and done with.  But what made me (kinda) overcome was a few things actually; it is lots of practise and know that people really don’t care if you’re filming (besides.. we’re tourist/foreigners after all!); Eric’s “finish what you start” mentality and “think of your parents!”.  I really want to share with my parents my travels so we can feel connected no matter where we are and is probably my main goal.  Technical challengers were lighting, audio and stability of the equipments.  Using an SLR camera can be get fidgety e.g adjusting the focus; and it’s heavy and quite often my arms get tired by taking many shots for long periods of time resulting in shaking hands.  We read we can overcome this with a steadicam. Although we’re not ready to invest much into the camera until we are sure we are serious about making more videos.  Don’t worry, we’ll still be making mobile apps! Oh FYI, Eric is referred as “Pork”.  I’ll be referred as “Bunny” 🙂

Eric (presenter)

I’ve done a lot of presentations in the past when I did sales. Most of the skills for presenting in real-life don’t translate nearly as well when you have no audience as such and the camera is in close-up.

The key problems I can see when reviewing the footage:

    • Use of hand gestures that aren’t even visible.
    • Changing position and movement.
    • Turning away from the camera to refer to physical locations.
    • Eyes darting around instead of looking down the barrel of the camera.

On the other hand there were things that shouldn’t be there that didn’t come from training on presentations. The biggest one is filling the air with ummms and aaahs. This is incredibly common and I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem with myself, but that clearly is the case. Although I can assure you this isn’t how I present normally, this is mostly born from performing ad-lib.  I think ultimately practice will prevail here in the long-run and in the short-term, we just need to accept some shots will take a few more takes as I get all the idea into words cleanly.

Overcoming these problems? It takes a lot of constant conscious effort. There is no easy trick that I know of yet, but it’s something I’m working on.

The biggest problem is looking at the camera. It sounds simple but I’ve heard actors describe this problem many times before.  It isn’t asked of them often to do a performance directly to a camera, but more common and just as jarring is having to perform to a green screen. Typically these do not draw good performances from good actors eg. all the new Star Wars movies.

But of course I’m not acting. I think some Pavlovian training would quickly resolve most of these issues. An electric shock whenever I umm and aahh or look away from the camera would make me a great video presenter very quickly!

Advice for those who are interested in making videos

  • Be patient when filming! Something I still need to learn.  When you’re patient you can get much better footage no matter how many times you shoot the same scene. Don’t give up!
  • Video isn’t for everyone so don’t spend too much money on something you may never do again. Try making a few videos (and possibly editing) and get the idea of what videography is all about – composition, equipments, lighting, audio etc.  It could be a very expensive hobby!
  • Always record at least 30sec of just the environment surrounding sounds just incase.
  • Take a still and longer shot at the beginning and end of every shot.  This is so you have enough footage length for transitions when editing.

That’s probably all I can list for now.  It’s not too much but it will help, best of luck and please don’t hesitate to share your travel videos to us!  We’d love to learn from others.

I present to you our first super quick video uploaded just 2 nights ago here.