I have written more than a few blog posts about keeping the Disney park magic going all year long. My wife likes to make scrapbooks of the trips, my daughter likes to take pictures (and watch YouTube videos about the parks) and my preferred method is home movies. I should be clear these are not the home movies you may think of with shaky video and random bits cobbled together. These are well edited films with custom titles, underlying Disney music, and multiple angles of events. People over the years who have seen these films have commented how amazing they are and told me they would pay to have me come along with their family to chronicle their vacation in the same way. I thought I would put together a post of some quick tips on how to make the perfect video of your Disney trip.
BALANCE: I think the key to having a good vacation with video and pictures is a balance When shooting your videos if you shoot too little you will have nothing to look back upon but if you shoot too much you will regret not being present in the moment and not making memories with your family. I think you should never make shooting of the video the primary focus.
CAMERA: People often ask which camera they should use. If you have an impressive video camera already you are probably not asking. If you don’t have a dedicated video camera the camera on most new smart phones is very impressive and will do fine. There are even additional add-ons like apps and gear that can clip onto your camera’s lens. Reasons for using your smart phone include that it will be with you and you are probably familiar with it. Battery life could be issue as you are also probably using it to take pictures and navigate your day in the My Disney Experience app. That problem can be fixed with a battery charger. Personally, I use a small handheld Canon. It fits in the palm of my hand, has a diameter of about 2″ and has a convenient hand strap so I don’t have to worry about it flying away on a fast ride. Remember Disney Parks to not allow Selfie Sticks.
FOOTAGE: Setting up the perfect scene should be seamless and effortless. At no point should you be directing your family or staging shots. It will ruin the fun and they will probably get annoyed very quickly. Just chronicle the events as they unfold. I will break down the various types of shots I like to try an get over the course of the trip. Notice I said “try to get”. This should not be a stressful thing, Disney can be a stressful enough place without adding extra things to worry about. You are there to have fun, this movie is just a way to remember the fun you are having.
- Establishing shots – An establishing shot is just a few seconds of the ride, attraction, or park you are going to. I usually get this while walking up or waiting in line. It “establishes” in the mind of the viewer where you are and lets them know when the event or attraction has changed.
- Walking shots – I love to get shots of my family walking. I may lag back for a second to get a shot of them walking hand in hand. It is great to edit into the video between rides.
- Line shots – Some of the best footage comes from hanging out in the lines. This is where you will find the real gold of your family as they are socializing, joking, or entertaining themselves.
- B-Roll – While you wait in line I love to get shots of the building or especially the ride as it launches away or whizzes by. You can later edit this “B-Roll” into your film where needed.
- 1st Person shots – We will often ride rides many times in a day or over the course of a multi-day visit. When we board the ride, I sit with the person I want footage of. I turn the tubular shaped camera around in my hand so it points at us, I fix the hand strap and firmly grasp the camera hand onto a rail or the car, and make sure to zoom all the way out the and make sure person is in the frame (my Canon has a feature that lets the video screen flip out and around, so I can see what it is shooting. I don’t really worry too much about keeping them in the screen. I ride the ride and have great time and know that somewhere in those 4 minutes I will get some usable footage.
- POV shots – When we ride the ride again I will hold the camera in a similar way but face it forward. This will give me footage of what we see on the ride from our point of view.
- Characters Meet & Greets – If characters are your kid’s thing it is nice to get some of those magical and special moments of them interacting. The Disney characters have a great way of making each kid feel special. I will often edit this footage of the meeting to conclude with a quick fade to bright white screen, the sound of an old camera bulb flashing, and transition to the still photo my wife took of the character and family. I have also sometimes added a photograph of the signature.
- Candid – We often schedule a day in the middle of our trip where we do not go to the parks for that day and go to Disney Springs, the pool, or some of Disney’s other activities. I love getting shots of the family just hanging out in the room at night or poolside. We usually have our daughter call her Grandmother and tell her everything that happened. It is nice for the grandparents, it acts as a great play by play summary of the vacation and is a touching reminder of how the kids act and talk at a younger age.
EDITING SOFTWARE: If you are new to editing you may have some question and concerns. You may wonder what program to buy. If you have an Apple, iMovie is a good place to start and if you have a PC, Windows Movie maker will work fine. There are better programs out there that are free, but you probably already have these installed. I tend to use Pinnacle on PC and Premier on my Mac, but those are just personal preferences and programs I know. The programs in the image above are from a list on PC Mag’s website feel free to check it out for more comprehensive breakdown of each program.
EDITING: Editing is about as simple as can be. The interfaces are very intuitive. You import or drag the footage into your editor. This creates a block of that video. You can then digitally trim or shorten the footage. You then drag in more footage and repeat. You can move the blocks of footage around on the timeline to create your movie. When editing the footage of the rides I will splice together the 1st person footage our faces riding the ride with the POV of what we saw along with the B-Roll of the car going by. You can tighten up the clips and give a great sense of speed or what the ride was like. I primarily use the footage of us as the main footage only cutting away to the POV and B-Roll when I want to splice together multiple clips of us.
MUSIC: There is a reason why most Hollywood films use music. It is a way to set your scene and inform your audience on how to feel. Picking the right music will give your footage a very professional feel and allow for a more emotional experience. You can simply import the music directly into your editor. Do this by selecting some appropriate Disney music from your preferred music software, like iTunes, and drag that onto the timeline or importer. You can cut, trim, and splice the music the same way you edit the footage. Be sure to be aware of your volume levels. You don’t want to drown out your family talking with some random song. On sections where there is no talking feel free to raise the audio level up a bit, so it is not too quiet.
TITLE SLIDES: Most all editing software will come with an array of title options that will allow you to type your text and have it appear over your video. If you don’t feel comfortable with that you could use PowerPoint to create a slide using one of your photos as the background and insert WordArt and arrange a title how you like. Go into presentation mode and save a screenshot. Simply insert that into the video as a still image. I put the image above together in PowerPoint in about 1 minute.
STILL PHOTO SLIDE SHOW: If video editing is new to you or not your thing any film editing software from iMovie to Adobe Premier can create dazzling presentations in minutes. You simply open the editor, highlight the photos you want to include, drag them over to the editor window and drop them onto the timeline or importer. Insert your music as described above. Many programs have after effects that you can add to all the photos at once. Even iMovie, which is free, has a great effect called “Ken Burns”, named after the PBS documentarian, that will pan across photos or zoom in and out. When you are done you just hit save and export or finalize. You will have a movie you can watch with your family or post on your social media.
On those cold winter months when you need a little pick me up all you have to do is just pop in one of your vacation videos and viola…Disney Magic.
WARNING: The Imagine Ears are not responsible for you immediately booking your next vacation soon after watching your video.
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Until next time…
The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.