Let me start this post with a question – What is a travel film?
Is it just a mumbo-jumbo of GoPro or mobile phone shots that records your recent travel, stitched together with some upbeat music in the background, or is it a montage of some cinematic shots from a DLSR or a drone, with great camera movements, stunning color grading, stitched together with some visually appealing transitions with a cracking song in the background.
Well, from what I’ve learned in the past year watching my favorite travel filmmakers on YouTube, both the options can make a travel film. But only if they have a particular key ingredient to complete the equation.
A story is the key ingredient that makes and binds a travel film. As long as there’s a story conveyed or even a micro-narrative connecting the clips, there’s a potential travel film right there.
In a sense, travel filmmaking is so similar to travel writing. You mould a story through words in travel writing whereas in filmmaking you express it through visuals and narrative.
Why do I love these travel filmmakers on YouTube?
Simply because they show the world that making an exceptional travel film doesn’t require a fancy film school degree, expensive gears or a dedicated set of crew. It requires practice, focus, and a dedicated mindset to create something new every day. Something which is better than the previous. It’s definitely a steep learning curve, like a mountain, but you just need baby steps to start.
So without any further ado, let’s get into the list of my top 5 favorite travel filmmakers on YouTube.
1. The numero uno position goes to none other than the rockstar Brandon Li. I chanced upon Brandon a year back while watching some Nat Geo videos on YouTube.
“Inside the Rugged Lives of Mongolia’s Nomads” – was the video that introduced me to Brandon. You really have to watch this to know what I’m talking about. I got instantly hooked to Brandon’s playlist after this and without a second thought hit the subscribers button. Since then I’ve been following Brandon like crazy.
On his tutorial videos, the guy talks business straight. No BS, no blabbering, sometimes so much to the point that viewers are left wanting for more.
When I subbed, he was at 20K. In 6 months Brandon crossed 100K subs on YouTube. Isn’t that something amazing? The best part of Brandon’s videos is that he has an actual clip to demonstrate whatever he talks. That’s something so important for newbies like me. And he films with a Sony set up and edits in Final Cut Pro X. I actually bought my first Sony mirrorless and lenses based on the recommendations in this video.
2. Stoked for Saturday by Jordan and Jenna
Jordan and Jenna, are a Canadian couple who spent 2.5 years of their life in New Zealand. They are back in Canada now and bad news is that they are not updating their YouTube channel or blog anymore.
But the channel is still live and you better take a look at Jordan’s adventure videos before it’s gone (I hope it stays there forever and they soon start to update new videos).
One of their videos “Glowworms in Motion – A Time-lapse of NZ’s Glowworm Caves in 4K” won New Zealand Geographic’s 2015 Photographer of the Year award in the Time-lapse category. Filming this involved sleeping in caves for multiple days (60 hours) in complete darkness with just the sounds of the cave to give them company (in Jordan’s words). Now isn’t that crazy inspiring?
Stoked for Saturday was THE channel that sparked a fire inside me to start creating cinematic adventure travel videos. To capture adventures in the best possible way through camera movements, speed, angles, drone shots and some epic music to spice things up.
With his charismatic style and flamboyant body language, Thomas can grab any random viewer fleeting through a series of videos on YouTube. I found him while searching how to make cinematic videos. Quite cheerfully, he talks a lot about context, narration, storytelling and beginner mistakes.
4. Julian Melanson The Film Creator Academy
If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty of filmmaking than Julian can help you out right away. He talks a lot about the psychology and thought process behind filmmaking, the rules of filming, and even how to videos.
I look up to Julian whenever I need some guidance on the filmmaking thought process, composition and framing.
5. Travel Feels by Matti Haapoja
This is one of the most recent channels I came across and got hooked instantly. Matti talks a lot about color grading, composition, and framing and has some epic travel videos to showcase the same. His edits are one of its kind without fancy transitions. Check out the video below to know what I’m talking about.
Bonus: If you’re still here, let me share one last channel with you all.
I couldn’t find a name behind KingTutsPro and it’s not a filmmaking channel but it will definitely help you to create yours. Its an extremely helpful tutorial channel to create your own videos in Final Cut Pro X. KingTutsPro focuses on Final Cut Pro edits and transitions although there’re Adobe Premiere tutorials too. If you want to take your video editing to the next level these then these tutorials will come real handy.
And before I end, I know there’re a lot more filmmakers out there who inspires a generation of newbies like me. If you think I missed a few, do comment on the post. But the blame is squarely on the YouTube algorithm that basically decides the ones I see 😉
Signing off for now………..