Tips for Editing your Winter Vacation Home Video

Posted by April on February 19, 2013

This is a medium shot - great angle and not too wide

As someone who has spent more than a dozen years in the TV business, one of the things I get asked a lot is – "Can you look at my latest video and tell me what you think?" Many of these videos are cute, made for relatives or just shots of a terrific vacation abroad. But some of the passion and valuable time that’s put into these videos don’t always reflect on screen.

Here are some tips that I’ve managed to come up with that may help you along as you put your home video together!

1. Know your camera

First of all, find out the in’s and out’s of your camera. What are its capabilities? What’s the best format to shoot in? How does the zoom and focus work when shooting for video? A lot of digital cameras today shoot both photos and video – so make sure you know how to use the video section. The best thing to do is – find the camera’s handbook and browse through it – while practicing and playing with it at home, that way when you’re out in the cold you're not shivering trying to figure it out on the mountain!

A helmet mount for your camera can come in handy


2. Have a plan

A lot of the home videos I see are shot on the fly… meaning – the user will just turn the camera – point and shoot. Instead, talk about what you want to shoot with your family. Make it an event – and have each member of your family come up with ideas and then choose what you’ll try and film.

Here are some ideas:

  • The family’s favorite ski run (do you have a run that everyone loves to ski on at once?)
  • Tricks and turns – shoot each child’s "style moment"  - give them a chance to show off
  • Fashion show – each child’s favorite ski/snowboard outfit or piece of equipment and why
  • Where you’re staying, feature the city, mountain and accomodations for an overview!
My nephew showing off his "style" shot for our video

While some of these ideas may sound a little hokey remember you’re shooting for memories and the family that’s not there – so make it fun and something everyone will enjoy for the years to come. 

3. Think in 3’s

One of the things I’ve taken with me throughout my career is the idea of creating a story with a beginning, middle and ending. “Think in 3’s” – is what my mentor taught me in storytelling on video. Try and contain your creativity and subjects to 3 things – that way you don’t get carried away with 20 minutes of a wide shot of you or your kids skiing down the mountain.

4. Shoot close ups and different angles.

This also is relative to “thinking in 3’s” – shoot 3 different ways/angles:

  • Wide Shots
  • Medium Shots
  • Close-up Shots

A lot of times especially with ski home videos you will find you have a ton of video that’s a continuous wide shot of your family skiing down the mountain. Try and avoid this – no one will want to watch 10 minutes of this – let alone you don’t want to be stuck editing this. While it may be epic in real life, it gets old quickly on video.

This is shot with an X-shot pole and camera

So one of the best things you can do is stop and shoot different angles. Shoot close ups or “cut aways” – these are shots that are different from your main shot – that way when you’re editing – you have something to cut to other than 3 wide shots at once. 

5. Watch your timing

Try and keep the length to a maximum of 5 minutes. Everyone knows we all have short attention spans in this day and era, so unless you’re a professional shooter and editor – it’s good to keep a time cap in mind. This will also force you to edit out continuous shots of unwanted moments that may repeat themselves often. (I’m thinking of that 10-minute ride up the lift or 20-minute shoot down a hill.) 

6. Edit Your Production

Editing your video shots using what is called a nonlinear editor, such as Apple's iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, or Adobe Premiere Elements, is simply the best way to make better video productions. The process is not as difficult as you think, but it does require extra time. With a movie editor, you can get rid of poor shots, tighten the editing, add smooth transitions, background music, and titles to make your production worth watching. 

When you're stuck, do as everyone does and Google. There are a ton of video editing websites out there that will give you a ton of tips on what to do and how to do it. Don't get overwhelmed - just take it one shot at a time.


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Comment posted by April on February 21, 2013 2:00 PM MST

Thanks JD! My next one is even more applicable when on the mountain - I found some great instant / automatic editing apps for your phone!

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Comment posted by J.D. Cronin on February 20, 2013 6:46 AM MST

Great advice will have this article on my iphone when we come to PC this spring.

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