Our Workflow

Workflow is the process by which we make our episodes – from planning to publishing.  So why would we explain all of this?  Because we want our viewers to come along with us on more than just our travels – we want them to feel apart of the work that we do.

Planning – The whole process begins up to a year in advance by scouring maps, travel sites and travel guides to develop a list of places that we would want to see – our Bucket List.  From that list, I look for a group of attractions that are close together an plan a trip out to see one group at a time.  Most of the time we find a simple campground to stay at as a home base for our adventures, and over 2-3 days we try to see and film 4-5 attractions.  Before visiting each attraction, I do my research and create a list of shots that I want to film, and check them off as we move along.  The biggest problem is that you can always have too much footage, but you can never make up for what you don’t have.

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Filming – We film almost all of our footage with GoPro Hero 4 Silver cameras.  In the first few episodes, I had the boys wear the GoPro’s around, but the images were often wiggly, just like them, and barely usable.  We quickly switched over to primarily filming with a GoPro mounted in a Luxebell C200 Aluminum housing with a Tiffen 52 mm Polarizing Filter to cut down on any glare.  The camera is then mounted to a 67″ Dolica Monopod – which looks like a walking stick and is pretty unassuming.  You can see the setup in the picture below – the monopod stuck in the sand next to Haystack Rock to capture the sunset.  Our goal with this setup is to be able to flexibly film places as we go without looking like we are carrying around a big camera and filming everything.  Which leads to the next point.  We rarely stage anything.  Most of our shoots are done by just showing up as any other vacationeer.  We want to film what it is like to go to a place just like anyone else would see it.  When other people are involved, I try to carefully edit them out of the footage or at least blur their faces to respect everyones privacy.

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Our film setup in a ultra portable case:

  • 3 GoPro Hero 4 Silver cameras in various mounts (open ones for better audio, closed ones for underwater, and in between for rain).
  • 6 spare batteries and one battery bacpac.  The large orange thing is a Jackery Giant + portable battery that I can use to recharge my GoPro’s or cell phones with.  I can also use it as a power supply for long night time lapses.
  • The left pouch has lens cleaning kit & cloths, a set of spare micro-SD memory cards, spare lenses, spare backdoors and spare bolts for different mounts.

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Editing – After arriving home from a trip, often with several micro-SD cards full of footage, I save a copy of all of the data on a 8TB RAID external hard drive using the Archive feature in Final Cut Pro X.  The RAID drive has two 4TB hard drives that are an exact copy of each other, so that if one hard drive fails, I still have a second copy – and all of our work isn’t lost.  Once archived, the footage often sits unused for weeks or months, waiting for my time to edit the footage.

Each video takes 15-25 hours worth of work – from the start of importing the footage to being done with publishing.  Between my writing work over at www.adivergentlife.com, my full time job as a Dad and working on videos, I only have time to do a good job with one video a week.

The process begins by developing a full script of what the video is going to be about.  I research the history, sights or anything unique about the location (day one).  Once the script is finished,  I record a voiceover using a Zoom H1 portable microphone (that I also carry with me while filming if I want High Quality audio.  Next I piece together the footage of our trip that matches what the voiceover is talking about, add any effects (stabilization, slow motion, time lapse, etc).  For transition material, I often process footage through Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro to smoothly move from one scene to another, or record video using Google Earth Pro for moving 3D scenery.  Once the voiceover is done and pieces of footage match, I have completed what is called the rough cut (day two).  Next, I watch the video and see how it flows – and make small adjustments to the voiceover, timing or video footage to make it look put together (day three).   I then add background music from the YouTube Audio Library and watch the whole video from start to finish to make sure that I am satisfied with everything (often which I am not and put in another hour of minor edits).

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Publishing – When the video editing is done, I generate the final copies of the video: a high quality master file I save, an upload to YouTube, an upload to Facebook, and a title frame.  I then create a draft post for the website with information about the place, a link to the video and our tips for when you visit the location yourself.  When all of the pieces are finally ready, I publish the website blog, set the YouTube video to public and upload the file to Facebook.  For the next few hours, I nervously watch the statistics on Facebook, WordPress and YouTube that tell me if people like the video or not.  If there is one thing I have learned, the internet of people is a finicky place.  Some of the videos I am most proud of don’t get many views and others get hundreds.  In the end, traveling and making these videos is an act of love – doing things that I enjoy doing and have the freedom to do.

Advertising – Perhaps the hardest part of making videos is trying to find the right type of people that want to watch and enjoy them.  In the end, what matters most is not how many views a particular video gets, but how many people will regularly return to watch your videos and be part of your journey.  The first step is having videos worth watching in the first place – something that I am constantly trying to get better at.  I have mixed results with most advertising – through Facebook or YouTube.  It normally generates a lot of views, but few subscribers, if ever.  In the end, most people appear to find my work the old fashioned way – through seeing it shared by their friends (thanks for sharing!) or by finding us after searching on Google.  I also post videos that I think would be interesting to Reddit.com – trying not to be annoying or pushy with my content, but hoping that it would be something that people want to see or learn about.

…and after going through all of that hard work, it is time to start all over again on the next weeks video…  I hope you enjoyed reading along about the process of making our videos and learned a little bit.  If you have comments or questions, we would love to hear from you!

~joel

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