Video: Sea of Cortez sailing trip

Here it is, finally!  This past weekend I took the time to sit down, figure out Adobe Premiere, and compile the video footage I took during my sailing trip in January into a video. This also marks the first upload to my new Wing on Wing YouTube channel. All of this was filmed on a GoPro Hero 4 Silver that I bought before the trip.

I learned quite a bit while making this, both about video editing and about how I can take better (and more usable) footage in the future. Thoughts and observations below the fold.

Taking good, usable video is harder than it looks

There’s a few things to unpack behind this somewhat obvious observation:

  • Camera shake is an especially big problem with a GoPro when hand-holding the camera. Yes, there are ways I can mitigate this through software, but the real solution is to use a different camera for hand-held footage. The GoPro is fantastic while mounted on things, but handheld I need to be extra careful to reduce shake.
  • Patience patience patience. After I got back from the trip I realized that in a lot of my hand-held footage (particularly while hiking on Isla Espiritu Santo) I was panning across the beautiful landscape a bit too quickly. While I was able to slow some of the video down to make it work better, doing nice slow pans will help. Even better would be setting the camera up somewhere to let it capture footage without me holding it–including time-lapses.
  • Setting the camera up and letting it run is great–but there’s no need to capture huge amounts of footage. All that sailing footage in the video? Yeah, there’s about 3 more hours of that. It all looks pretty much the same. While that doesn’t matter right now, capturing (and saving) hours of sailing footage where any given minute looks pretty much like the hour around it is a waste of battery power and storage capacity.
  • Focusing on both skippering the boat and filming means filming is lower priority than it should be. Part of the solution here will be getting my friends to take more turns with the camera.

Scheduling is my friend

One of the things I’d been wanting to do before the trip was to have little interview segments, talking with my crew in the evening to get their thoughts and feelings on the day’s events. That didn’t happen. I can blame seasickness for some of it, but really it was just that I forgot! Next time, I’ll make sure that I have a few minutes after dinner each evening scheduled for interviews (including myself) so that upcoming videos will have more of a personal touch to them. This one is just a bit too impersonal!

Finding music is hard

Actually, finding music is easy. What is hard is finding royalty-free or public domain music that works well with the video. This isn’t a huge problem yet–this video uses Creative Commons licensed music–but at some point if I begin to monetize my videos (through Patreon or other methods) that option disappears. What I’ve seen some of the best sailing YouTubers use is custom music written by them, friends, or fans.

There’s a lot to learn about Adobe Premiere

Thankfully I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom for the past two years so Adobe’s general UI concepts aren’t something I need to readjust to, but Premiere is an incredibly complex and powerful piece of software. The good thing is that the basic functions are really easy to use. I suspect I’m going to learn Premiere much the way I did Lightroom: find a flow that works, use it, try new things and learn new bits of the software with each video I make. Luckily I’ve got a few resources in terms of friends who know their way around, so if I get stuck I can ask them before looking around the internet. It also helps that I’ve been messing with video compression and muxing for years, so the more technical aspects of exporting videos aren’t at all new to me.