How to Make a Travel Video in Scotland

By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents


If you want to make a travel video of your tour of Scotland you’ll need to ensure you have the right equipment, whether that’s the right camera, lens, or video editing software.

In this article, you will discover a collection of must-know video editing tips that will help you create stunning videos during your trip, along with advice for setting up your camera and suggestions for the best video travel gear to use.

Make a Travel Video

How to Make a Travel Video

Scotland is a land of breathtaking scenery, from the jaw-dropping mountain vistas of the Cairngorms to the picturesque lochs of the Trossachs.

There are quaint wee villages where time appears to have stopped and white-sand beaches that wouldn’t look out of place on a tropical island, so naturally, you’ll want to record every new place you visit to create memories that last a lifetime.

While seeing all the amazing sights that Scotland has to offer is an exciting experience, editing the videos afterwards can be a real chore, and it’s probably the last thing you want to be doing in the evening when a cosy pub and a warm dram of whisky are calling you.

In this article, I’ll show you how to edit your Scotland travel videos easily with zero stress and frustration thanks to some rather nifty time-saving features courtesy of the latest technology.

glencoe

The Basics

If you’re like most people (myself included), you probably love travelling and documenting your adventures, but you find it hard to make your videos stand out from the crowd.

I know I do, which is why I’ve spent countless hours perfecting an easy-to-remember rulebook for shooting each new destination I visit in Scotland.

Although mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly affordable, the majority of people tend to carry smartphones which are now almost as good when it comes to quality, so that’s what I’ll concentrate on in this article.

The following tips may not make you the next Steven Spielberg, but they’re a good starting place to develop your burgeoning video-making skills.

1: Remember it’s not all about the gear

One thing I’ve seen time and time again is people using the latest and greatest video cameras and shooting boring, bland videos that no one is interested in watching.

Before splashing out £1000+ on a dedicated camera (instead of whipping out your trusty iPhone which will do a great job if you know how to use it properly), ask yourself a few questions.

photo smartphone

‘Who am I making this video for?’, ‘What emotions do I want to convey?’, and ‘What shooting style suits me best?’ is far more important than ‘How many megapixels do I need?’.

If your target audience is social media users (where the majority of video is consumed nowadays), then get to know how to shoot the world around you while giving a running commentary of what it’s actually like to be there.

Try to look for scenes that are cinematic and include aspects of your surroundings such as wildlife, buildings, and the people you meet.

Most importantly, try to come up with a story that takes your viewers from a beginning (such as leaving your hotel), to a middle (seeing an amazing sight for the first time), to an end (packing up and heading back home).

As human beings, we’re pre-programmed to have an emotional connection with stories – even ones as simple as watching someone travel from A to B – so try to include a basic plot, explain who the main characters are, and show the experience of what it’s like being in a new place.

2. Copy the experts

Photograph Northern Lights

I’m not talking about explicitly copying someone else’s work here, but I am recommending taking cues from someone else’s style and putting your own spin on it.

One of the best ways to beef up your video production skills is to learn from people that are already making awe-inspiring travel videos, and thankfully nowadays there are countless places on the internet to look for inspiration.

Two of the best resources for watching travel videos are Vimeo and YouTube, but of the two I personally prefer Vimeo as I find the creators are generally a step above those on YouTube.

Watch a few videos and zone in on a style you like, then replicate it. Pick apart your favourite travel videos and write down a list of what sets them apart, whether it’s lots of jump cuts, an interesting commentary, or unusual use of sound and music.

While it’s unlikely you’ll be as good initially, with time and practice you’ll see your own videos improve no end.

SCOTLAND in motion from Casper Rolsted on Vimeo.

3. Diversify your shots

Without a doubt, the biggest offender when it comes to boring videos that make you want to pull your hair out is seeing the same shot over and over and over again.

While panning left to right is a great way to showcase a tourist attraction, doing it for the entirety of your travel video is excruciatingly dull.

Instead, try to mix it up with a range of movements for each scene.

Let’s say you’re in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. There are many beautiful artworks and stained glass windows on the walls in the cathedral, so try panning left, right, up, and down in each new area you go to.

st giles cathedral

See an unusual engraving on the floor? Zoom in for an ants-eye close-up view. Notice the elaborate blue vaulted ceiling in the nave? Hold your camera above your head and spin around in a circle for an interesting effect.

Just be aware that most tourist attractions in Scotland do not allow visitors to use a tripod, so you’ll either need to have a steady hand or use a gimbal to smooth out your movements.

While gimbals for mirrorless cameras are rather expensive, you can pick up fully-featured ones for your smartphone for under a hundred quid.

There are too many to list in this article but as an owner myself I highly recommend DJI as their gimbals are easy to use and built to withstand knocks and bumps while travelling.

  • Small portable stabilizer pad for smartphone - DJI OM 5 is a lightweight and versatile tool that unlocks the full potential of your smartphone. Get perfect selfies, super smooth videos, automatic tracking, and more with the phone gimbal from DJI .
  • Integrated extension bar - Gather even more friends in a selfie or film your animals even more easily from low angles. This smart stabilizer pad is perfect for vlogging, live streaming, and YouTube.
  • Pro shots - ShotGuides automatically recognizes your environment and recommends a suitable take sequence and provides a tutorial to get it. Just follow the instructions and you'll learn to shoot like a pro in an instant. Thanks to the basket DJI OM 5, even beginners are capable of epic results.
  • Smart gondola with ActiveTrack 4.0 - A next-generation algorithm allows DJI OM 5 to follow subjects with even more stability and responsiveness, even during rapid movements. This compact smartphone gimbal maintains stable tracking and provides even smoother camera movements, allowing you to focus on what's around you.
  • 3-axis stabilizer for smartphone - Say goodbye to unstable videos. Even with an external lens, the powerful 3-axis motor of DJI OM 5 stabilizes your smartphone and your videos.
  • Installation in an instant - Magnetically attach your smartphone to the gimbal in seconds without balancing or calibration. The rubber coating on the phone strap holds your iPhone or Android securely. Thanks to the flexible design, you can easily mount your smartphone without removing the case.

An alternative (and cheaper) option for recording travel videos with a smartphone is to use a non-stabilized video rig.

These are basically brackets that the phone secures to with handles on either side and attachments on the top and bottom where you can fit a light source, power pack, and microphone.

Video rigs are great, but they’re big, bulky, and practically scream ‘look at me!’. Not ideal when you’re walking around a busy place.

My personal preference is to put your own kit together using the off-the-shelf parts that I’ve listed below.

The smartphone holder is very sturdy and rotates 360°, plus it has 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads to mount all the accessories you need onto it.

Screw a mini tripod into the bottom which you can use as a handheld grip, and attach a microphone to the top, then use the flexible arm to attach a light panel.

The whole rig is ultra-durable, compact, and easily broken down into separate parts for chucking in your backpack at the end of the day.

4. Use sound to complement your video

One of the most-used travel video styles is called ‘talking head’ where the camera is fixed to the face of the person holding it and we see and hear their surroundings as they walk along.

In talking head videos, the main sound is the filmmaker’s own voice as they provide a running commentary, which is a great way to convey the emotions of what it’s like to experience a beautiful landscape or an exciting event.

For basic videos indoors, the smartphone’s own microphone is sufficient, but they struggle with intrusive noises such as other people’s voices when walking through crowds.

To alleviate this problem you can use a good quality external microphone, either in the form of a lav mic or a shotgun mic.

Smartphone Video

A lav mic is basically a small microphone that you clip onto your shirt which captures everything you say without picking up much background noise.

I’ve used them before and can happily confirm they’re perfect for busy places such as cities and popular tourist attractions, but be aware that some are better than others.

Buy a cheap lav mic and you’ll likely have a constant, irritating background hiss permanently embedded in your audio track. It will also no doubt be wired which is a pain when trying to move about in a tight spot.

I therefore recommend purchasing a good quality wireless lav mic, specifically the RODE Wireless Go which is a wee bit pricey but is one of the best on the market and will elevate your audio to nigh-on professional levels.

  • Ultra-compact wireless microphone system with a dual-channel receiver and single transmitter for a range of content creation applications
  • Analogue 3.5mm and digital USB outputs that are compatible with cameras, Windows and MacOS computers, iOS and Android phones for versatile use in a range of settings (additional cable may be required for some devices)
  • The transmitter has an in-built rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 7 hours battery life, plus has an on-board recording function allowing up to 40 hours of flawless audio capture
  • Includes RØDE's most advanced series IV wireless transmission for stable, secure transmission of up to 200m, even in dense RF environments
  • The tiny, lightweight transmitter with built-in microphone can be directly attached to talent for completely wireless operation, or can be used as a traditional belt pack with a lavalier microphone
  • Comes supplied with a premium furry windshield with a sturdy locking connector to eliminate annoying wind noise when recording outdoors for crystal clear audio everytime
  • Advanced features can be unlocked via the companion app RØDE Central including exporting and optimising on-board recordings, accessing device information, setting the recording quality updating to the latest firmware and more
  • Fully compatible with the free RØDE Connect podcasting and streaming software, for added flexibility when recording, streaming or video calling from a computer.

Shotgun mics, meanwhile, are physically connected to the microphone jack and protrude toward the filmmaker’s mouth.

They’re far superior compared to the standard microphone inside your phone, but not quite as good as lav mics when it comes to muffling external noises.

That, though, is actually an advantage in many situations as a shotgun mic will pick up your voice as well as some of the ambient sounds of the world around you.

Again, RODE is the go-to manufacturer of shotgun mics and the VideoMic Me is hands-down the best option for filmmakers on a budget who are looking for the best audio bang for their buck.

Note that whatever microphone you go for it’s highly advisable to make sure it has a windshield (a furry cover that goes over the mic) as even the lightest breeze can cause horrendous whooshing noises that can completely obliterate your voice.

Thankfully, the RODE VideoMic Me comes with one as standard.

  • High-quality microphone for iOS mobile devices, designed to give you incredible audio when shooting video
  • The microphone's directionality reduces surrounding noises to focus on exactly what you're filming, ensuring your videos sound clear and intelligible
  • Works seamlessly with the RØDE Reporter App, Camera, and other recording apps - just plug directly into your iPhone, and start recording
  • Includes a premium furry windshield that eliminates annoying wind noise when recording outdoors, for crystal-clear audio on all your videos
  • Integrated 3.5mm headphone output allows you to monitor your audio whilst recording, as well as listen to your recordings when playing back

Setting Up Your Device

While you could just open your default video app and press the record button, getting the best quality out of your mobile device involves understanding the settings and knowing which options to use for different circumstances.

Mobile devices do almost all of the heavy lifting for you nowadays, but if you really want to elevate your video skills to the next level then the following tips will help you squeeze every last drop of quality out of your smartphone.

1: Shoot in landscape

Want your travel videos to look amateurish? Then shoot in portrait (the same way you hold your phone when taking a call).

Nothing looks worse than having great big black bars at the top and bottom of your video, which is why the first step to improving your videography is to rotate your device 90° before hitting the record button.

The majority of non-mobile devices such as TVs and computer screens have a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning if the width of the screen is divided into 16 equal spaces, the height will be 9 of those spaces.

Smartphone photo

It’s true that different manufacturers make phones with different aspect ratios such as the latest Sony phones with a 21:9 display, but if you play a 21:9 video on a standard 16:9 TV you will have the problem of black bars on the top and bottom of the screen.

The only way to get around it is to zoom into the picture so that it covers the black bars, but you then have less detail, noise is more obvious, and you lose everything in the periphery of the frame.

Your best option, therefore, is to go into your camera settings and select the 16:9 aspect ratio, then shoot everything with your camera held in a landscape orientation.

2: Use an external light

Ever seen a video shot indoors where everything looks grainy and pixellated? There’s a simple reason why it happens and it’s all down to the amount of available light.

Smartphone camera sensors are tiny and typically have a 1/2.55 inch sensor, which equates to being roughly 1cm in width.

By contrast, even the smallest mirrorless cameras have a 1-inch sensor which is around 5 times bigger than the ones in the majority of smartphones.

Whatever camera you use, they all have digital sensors with photosites that convert light into electrical signals.

Smartphone sensor

The camera’s in-built software then converts those signals into a RAW image (an unprocessed image that includes everything captured by the sensor) that can be further processed to add colour, contrast, sharpness etc.

The problem with small sensors is that there’s less surface area which means that light from one photosite can leak into another. In addition, small sensors have less area to dissipate heat which can confuse the photosite into thinking it’s receiving light when in fact, it isn’t.

Both of these problems translate as noise in the RAW image which is seen as random specks all over the frame, degrading details and adding false colours.

The simple way to alleviate this problem (other than using a camera with a larger sensor) is to add more light to the scene.

For photographers, a flash solves the problem of low light, but obviously a flash can’t be used with video where images are captured at a minimum of 24 frames per second.

What you need instead is a constant light source, but one that can be adjusted for colour temperature and intensity.

camera light

The former means you can match the colour of the light to the ambient light around you (yellow sunlight during the day or blue/white fluorescent light at night, for example), and the latter means you can avoid blowing out the subject of the scene (e.g. a person sitting in a dark room).

For travel videos I have one option that I’ve personally used which works extremely well, and that’s a Lume Cube LED light.

These lights are smaller than a smartphone, made from tough aluminium, and have an adjustable LED panel that’s bright enough for most situations.

They also have an adjustable colour temperature range from 3200K to 5600k (covering the ranges of natural and artificial light) and have a built-in battery that lasts several hours.

Lume Cube light panels are a wee bit pricier than some other models, but in this instance, you really do get what you pay for.

  • 60 LED panel. Adjust colour temperature between 3200k (Warm White) to 5600k (Cool White) in 100k steps. Dimming range 1%-100% in 5% increments
  • Two 1/4" threads for landscape or portrait mounting on tripod (tripod not included) Mini Digital SLR camera shoe mount
  • Full Charge time approximately 1.8 hours. Battery life at 100% brightness about 1.2 hours
  • Phone attachment to make one handed phone operation simple. Robust metal construction
  • Plain English instruction manual. 12 month warranty. USB - C charging cable included for quick recharging

Adjust your phone’s app settings

There are dozens of different camera apps so it wouldn’t be practical to include every setting in one article, but there are a few that are common between most smartphone models.

1: Aside from setting your video app to record in 16:9 aspect ratio, I recommend enabling grid lines.

These are 3 vertical and horizontal lines that are overlayed on the display which help you a) keep the horizon level and b) keep the main subject in the middle of the screen. Note that grid lines are not saved with the video.

2: If you have one of the latest smartphones and you have the processing power to edit the footage, I recommend setting the resolution to 2160p – otherwise known as 4K. Videos taken at 4K have 4x the resolution of 1080p which has a number of pros, but a couple of cons as well.

Pros – Can zoom in during editing without losing image quality. Can set the resolution to 1080p during editing and then pan around the 2160p video frame. The video is future-proofed (until 8K becomes the norm…).

Cons – 4K video takes up a huge amount of memory card space (1 minute at 1080p = approx 120MB vs 350MB at 4K). 4K is difficult to edit unless you have a powerful laptop, but this is a non-issue if you have an online video editor as you’ll see later on.

Smartphone video

3: Choose the frames per second for your video. Frames per second – or FPS – is the number of images that are displayed every second, and on most smartphones the options are 24, 30, or 60.

As the FPS increases the footage becomes smoother, but higher doesn’t always mean better. 24 FPS has been the standard for movies for decades now as the video is smooth enough for the human eye to perceive as natural, but not too smooth.

30 FPS comes close and is best to use in countries where the domestic electricity supply is 60 Hz, such as in the US. This is because in those countries fluorescent lights are also 60 Hz, so videos shot at half that rate have no flicker effect.

In countries such as Scotland, the utility supply is 50 Hz, so if your camera has a 25 FPS option it’s best to use it.

The next step up is 50 or 60 FPS, both of which provide buttery smooth video which is best used for fast-moving subjects such as sports. However, this frame rate can look artificial and is unnecessary for travel videos, plus it uses more memory card storage.

smartphone video

The last option for frame rate is usually configured in a separate mode of your camera app, and that’s slow-motion. In slo-mo videos, the action is often captured at 120 or 240 FPS and then slowed down 4-8 times to match 30 FPS.

The resulting footage allows viewers to see every aspect of a fast-moving scene and can add a real cinematic flair to your videos.

4: If your smartphone has a ‘pro’ mode you’ll be able to access many more options, but to be honest, phones do such a good job of choosing the right settings that I now keep my own phone in ‘basic’ mode most of the time.

Things like setting the white balance and fixing the focus point are unnecessary extra steps for most users, but I do like to set one pro setting now and then which is Auto Exposure Lock.

Out of the box, most phones default to automatic exposure control which compensates for changing light conditions, for example when panning around the interior of a room and then stopping at a bright window.

smartphone video

Without AE exposure the perfectly exposed room would suddenly blow out when the phone is panned to the bright light source.

This is great in theory and actually works very well most of the time, but it can occasionally create massive changes in exposure during scenes where there is little actual change in the amount of ambient light.

When shooting outdoors and while walking about, what I like to do is long-press the screen on my Android device on an evenly lit subject to lock the exposure.

Then, no matter where I pan the camera the exposure stays the same and there is no risk of the phone suddenly blowing out the highlights or shadows as it tries to recalibrate itself.

This is a very handy tip that can help massively with your travel videos, but remember you will have to re-set the exposure or go back to auto exposure mode if you suddenly move to a lighter or darker place.

Editing Your Video

travel video editing

Whether you’re a family travelling to Scotland for a holiday or an individual looking to capture the memories of your trip, editing your travel videos while on the go can be a lot of work – especially if you’re a newcomer to the world of video editing.

To my mind, most video editing software is on the same level as business tax software – bloated, confusing, expensive, and featuring a ton of options that you will never, ever use.

In addition, most video editors require huge amounts of processing power to push all that information about, so if you have a 4K video and a 10-year-old laptop you’re in for a whole world of pain.

Thankfully, the rise of ultra-fast internet speeds and a slew of new online technologies means that video editing is now easily accomplished via your web browser and a subscription to a video editing service.

I’ve tried a few in recent years and I have to say I’ve been blown away by the quality of these online video editors.

Not only do they make creating high-quality videos supremely easy, but they also make it fun, and they can even save you money in the long run.

Invideo

This last point may sound strange, but it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind.

Most standalone desktop video-editing applications cost anywhere from £50 to a few hundred pounds, and that usually only includes the first year of software updates.

What tends to happen is the developer will release a new version in the following years with features that should have been included in the package you purchased – and there’s no way to access them without digging out your credit card and paying a hefty upgrade fee.

Not only that, but new technology means that video resolution and bitrates are constantly on the rise, meaning old computers soon become next to useless for video editing.

Step forward online video editors, where all the hard work is done behind the scenes on mega-powerful computers operating on the other end of an internet connection.

All you have to do is upload your video to the remote server, after which you can edit it with the same speed as if you had a top-of-the-line desktop PC at home.

And even better, because the software is powered from remote computers it can be updated and patched instantly so there’s no more worrying about security risks or incompatibility with outdated operating systems.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few video editing services out there, but the pick of the bunch has to be the online video editing tools available from Invideo.io.

Invideo

With an Invideo subscription, users can not only perform all the standard editing techniques such as trimming, cutting, and adding effects, but they can also dramatically boost production values by choosing from over 5,000 pre-made professional video templates.

Not only that, but Invideo has a ma-hoosive library of more than 8 Million images, videos and audio tracks that you can use in your creation, all bundled up in an intuitive and easy-to-use editor that’s so simple your granny could figure it out.

Bonus features such as the ability to create slideshows and instantly share the finished videos on social media are really just the icing on the proverbial cake, but there’s one more feature that really gets my creative juices going, and that’s the Text to Video option.

Using this feature I can copy text from any of my articles to the Invideo window and let the software scan it, after which it will convert it into a number of slides complete with appropriate images and videos.

There are options to change the text, swap out images and add music as you see fit, and the whole process can result in a professional-looking information-based video in less than 10 minutes.

Please believe me when I say it’s a game changer for media creators.

Invideo

On a final note, one top tip I have for anyone using an online video creator is to keep a separate home backup of all your footage and keep everything organised in folders categorized by year, month/day, and location.

This will make finding clips easy in the future and is essential for your own peace of mind if you want to keep your memories for a lifetime.

You can, of course, upload your videos to a cloud service such as Google Drive, but let me tell you, uploading gigabytes of data is slow and laborious even with a speedy internet connection, plus it will eat through your allowable storage limits like nothing else.

After a lot of research I eventually splashed out on a Western Digital Network Attached Storage drive which allows data to be backed up at lightning speeds over my home network.

Most importantly, it can be configured to ‘Mirror’ mode so that exact copies of my videos are stored on two separate disks, negating any possibility of data loss due to disk failure.

  • Centralised network storage: Organise your entire media collection, photos and files in one central, network location. Input frequency is 50 to 60 Hz.The system supports WD TV, WD TV Live, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows 8, connected TVs, Blu-ray players
  • Access from anywhere: Save, access and stream your content anywhere you have an Internet connection with the My Cloud mobile app
  • Robust data protection: Multiple RAID and backup options to help protect all your valuable media, photos and important files
  • Operating System: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion
  • The socket is interchangeable and there are two types of socket in the box, 3 pin and 2 pin

Well, that’s about it for this article. There are lots more tips for travelling around Scotland on this website so check out the Travel Tips and Advice archives for more information.

This is a sponsored article in collaboration with invideo.io