Tips for My Friend

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My friend and client, George Walther of, just created some wonderful videos of his journey to Sikkim.  Sikkim is a small and remote Kingdom hidden in Southeast Asia.  George asked for some constructive feedback and my advice is below his videos.  George may still be honing his filmmaking skills, but he offers a glimpse into a world that few people have ever seen.

Here was my advice to him:

Aloha George,

Great to hear from you.

Very good job on your videos.  Here is some constructive feedback to improving your videos:

  1. In the narration portions, use your video camera microphone to record your voice.  I think you are currently using the laptop microphone.  It doesn’t sound good and takes us out of the story.  The microphone on your live narration of your videos sounds a lot better.  And will sound better in your “editing room.”
    1. Consider filming yourself in the editing room.  I think audiences might like to occasionally to see you post-trip.
  2. Follow this formula for shooting scenes
    1. Wide shot
    2. Medium shot
    3. Close up
    4. Get at least that amount of coverage of every scene.  It will give you much more editing choices and help with telling the story better.
    5. For example:  The tea farm with the ladies hand picking tea:  get a wide shot of the whole farm.  Then get a new medium shot of 1 lady picking tea.  This medium shot is about from waist up to the top of the head.  Get several close up shots of:  hands picking tea, faces of ladies as they pick tea, the tea leaves thrown into the baskets on their backs.
  3. For added dynamics and better composition of the shots change shot angle and height
    1. For each new shot move at least 30 degrees to the left or right.
    2. Try putting you camera high and pointing down (typically makes subjects look smaller)
    3. Try putting your camera low and pointing up (can create a sense of power)
    4. Add foreground, middle ground, and background elements to your shot.
  4. Edit your youtube descriptions to have the link to the other video in them.  Don’t force us to search.  The search on youtube is not fool proof.
  5. During your trip, set up the camera on a tripod, table, rock, or something.  Hit record, then walk in front of the camera and give us recaps of what is happening.  Think of it as a travel log.  Seeing you during the trip is important to audiences.  Or consider more of your 360 face shots.  This is like your style of what I am suggesting.
  6. Interview the people you meet.  Audiences want to meet the people you meet too.  The best part of part 1 is when you are playing with the ipad with the kids.
  7. Be much slower and smoother with your panning shots.
  8. Consider a monopod or learn more stable camera holding techniques.
    1. Think smooth and steady
    2. Basically elbows tucked in, camera pressed to your face (if you have an eyepiece that allows this functionality), feet about shoulder width apart, with left foot in front of the right foot, knees slightly bent.
    5. Pan from the hips not with the arms.
  9. Consider showing us the leeches incident, though it might scare off people from taking their own adventure.
  10. Show don’t tell.
  11. Consider using this powerful editing/documentary/storytelling technique
    1. Start with a question.  Pose a question without actually asking the question outright.  For example, begin the video with the unknowns you faced.  Show (don’t tell) us the challenges of getting to Sikkim.  Show us the intrigue and secrecy of this hidden land.  Show us the threats that face this culture that is in danger of being lost.  Some questions you could pose:  will George make it to Sikkim?  Will this culture survive the next 10 years?  Will you, the viewer, choose a life well lived?
    2. Show us challenges along the way.  Potentially pose new questions.
    3. Consider the theme of the video.  Focus on that theme.


  12. Focus on stories.  Show us stories of the land.  Show us stories of the people.  Show us stories of yourself.
  13. Consider getting a better camera.  I think you need a wider angle lens to show us the scale.  Plus, HD will allow us to take in more of the beauty.  Here are some suggestions that I either own and love or have on order since it is not released yet:
    1. GoPro Hero3 Black edition.
      1. Pros:
        1. This is an all terrain, all weather, waterproof camera that is awesome.
        2. It is only $399.
        3. It shoots HD, higher than HD, and really great images.
        4. Can shoot true slow motion.
        5. Can shoot timelapses.
        6. Can shoot stils
        7. Ultra-wide angle
        8. Very small form form factor with many different mounting options
        9. To be released at the end of the month
      2. Cons:
        1. Not a great zoom.
        2. Can’t change lenses
        3. Not professional audio
    2. Sony HX20V
      1. Pros:
        1. Super steady image stabilization in camera
        2. Great HD quality (use 1080p)
        3. Great zoom from a very decent wide angle to pretty good telephoto
        4. Pretty good low light capability
        5. Can also shoot some slow motion
        6. Very small form factor
        7. Can shoot stills
        8. Only $330
      2. Cons:
        1. Can’t change lenses
        2. Not professional audio
    3. Canon DSLR’s either the T4i, 60d, or EOS-M
      1. Pros:
        1. Incredible image quality
        2. Choose from lots of different lenses
      2. Cons:
        1. Big and heavy
        2. Not professional audio
        3. At least $800
    4. I think the Sony HX20V is your best bet.  If I had to choose a camera for your journeys, I would choose this one.

I hope this helps.  Take care and happy travels!

Jeff Orig


Film and TV Production