Map your story.
After you’ve done your scouting, start to visualize the narrative arc of your video. This process is also known as storyboarding. Your storyboard could be as simple as loose sketches, or it could describe the sequence of your video shot by shot. “Video is very time consuming and the window when you have good light is very small, so it’s important to have a good game plan,” says Nguyen.
One advantage of going through the storyboarding process is that you realize what shots you’ll need for your video. Now you can write a shot list to help you keep tabs on what footage you have and what you still need.
“If you have a strong storyboard and shot list, it’ll be a lot easier for you to put the timeline together and create the sequence for the video,” says Nguyen. “The most important part is being able to tell a story. You may have a bunch of epic clips, but if you don’t know how to tell a story and put it all together, it falls apart.”
Working with a client.
If you’re working with a client, the pre-production process is almost identical, except that you’ll likely be given creative direction or a certain script to follow.
“It all starts with research. I have a client meeting, and then I sit down with my producer and we figure out how we’re going to execute this project. Then I write the script,” explains videographer Bevan Waite.
“The script dictates the next series of preparation documents, which would be the shot list, the call sheet, and any travel logistics that need to be organized. All of these organizational documents reference the script and ensure there’s an allotted time and location for every aspect of the script to be executed,” says Waite.
Find the focus of your film.
From the moment you start planning to the final edit you make, the most important thing to do is keep the big picture in mind; let it drive all your decisions as a filmmaker.
Another way to think about this is to ask yourself what your goal is, what the purpose of your video is. Are you making a travel guide for the Amalfi coast, a documentary of your road trip through Scotland, or a sponsored travel adventure through the Amazon rainforest? Or do you simply want to make an epic travel video as a keepsake of your trip?
Once you have your overarching purpose figured out, the rest of the planning, filming, and editing process will fall into place much more easily. Whether you’re a vlogger who wants to show their subscribers a day in Bali or a blogger who wants to add a video component to your post about the best way to see the Grand Canyon, there’s no limit to what you can do with the video format and a desire to explore.
“Some trips I totally fly by the seat of my pants. And that’s okay; sometimes you can schedule time to not know what the next thing is,” says Waite. “But it’s always a good idea to have that larger vision in the back of your mind, so you know what you’re trying to accomplish.”