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Top 3 Tips to Making Better Videos

I was a photographer before I was a film maker. I was a film maker before I was a paraglider pilot. I was a paraglider pilot before I tried to succesfully merge all three together. Over the last 6 or 7 years I have made way too many videos related to paragliding (just ask my wife). Most of those videos are equally as terrible (again, just ask my wife). Through it all, I have learned many valuable lessons, mostly on how not to do it. Whether skiing, paragliding, climbing or backpacking, I have picked up a few tricks that will often lead to more memorable adventure videos.

In an effort to share, I thought I would offer my Top 3 simple tricks that will help make your next adventure video more meaningful.

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Unique shot angles make any video more interesting. It is always fun when people ask “how on earth did you get THAT shot?”

 

#1 – GET THAT CAMERA OFF YOUR HEAD
This is by far the number one thing that can make or break your video. The advent of GoPro and other personal cameras has caused everyone, by default, to unfortunately put a camera on their heads. Yes,I am as guilty as the next adventure sports guy. It was a cool idea at first, but we should all realize from a filming standpoint, a helmet cam is terrible idea. Over the years I realized that viewers don’t care about what you are looking at, they care about what you are experiencing. Therefore, make it a point to show them the experience, not just the view from your head. So, if you want to do just one thing to make your videos exponentially better, get that camera off your head!

Who is this Jerry with his camera in his toggles? Yeah, I admit, that's me. Just another good reason to get that camera off you head.
Who is this ‘Jerry’ with his camera caught in his toggles? Yeah, that’s me 6 years ago in Austria. Just another good reason to get that camera off you head.

As a side note: If you are into the “flying” sports like BASE jumping, skydiving, speed wings, and/or paragliding then a camera on your head can actually be a very dangerous proposition as getting your lines caught on your helmet can quickly become a safety concern.

 

#2 – MAKE THOSE CLIPS SHORTER
The attention span of most people is pretty short, especially when it comes to internet videos. Why else do so many videos these days have to say…”wait for it” in their captions? If you want to make you films more interesting and less…well…boring, then change the duration of your clips to no more than 5-7 seconds. You should be switching views to different angles or vantage points often. Yes, that means that for a 2:00 minute video, you will need 15 to 25 different shot changes. That may sound like a lot, but trust me, it is worth it.

 

#3 – SYNC TO THE MUSIC
No matter what you are filming, the audio track you chose will define the mood of your video. When choosing a track, be sure to first define the “beat” and then sync your clips to change with that beat. Some songs are fast, so you need to change shots every 3-4 seconds, others are slower and only require a shot change every 6-7 seconds. No matter what track you choose, be sure to sync your shots to the music.

 

Those may sound too simple and not that earth shattering, but you would be surprised how many videos violate not just one, but all three. Best of luck in your next video project. If you make a video you are proud of, feel free to send it my way or post in the comments as I would love to check it out. Happy Shooting.

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Top 5 Inspiring Videos 2016

As I look back over the last 12 months I am reminded that life passes quickly, especially the older one gets. Through the many challenges and aspects of our lives, we are surrounded today by many forms of inspiration.  As a photographer I am always combing through various videos that address and inspire different portions of my life.  At the end of the year I try and compile my favorite five.  Okay, maybe these aren’t the best five films of the year, but I have found some form of inspiration in each of them.  So crank up those speakers, find a quiet place and hopefully these short films will offer a little inspiration in your own life.

Parenting
I wear many different hats in my life, but first and foremost is that of being a Dad.  I love my kids and the individual dynamic that they provide to my life. I enjoy being a Dad and the opportunities it presents to teach, listen, and hopefully inspire my kids to find their own true self.  I know this video is just a commercial for granola bars, but if you are a Dad with a daughter, or a daughter with a loving Dad, I think you will understand.

 

Photography / Film Making
I am an adventurer/photographer by trade and a wanna be film maker on the side.  The challenges associated with making a film are enourmous, especially when trying to synchronize shots alongside audio.  This may just look like another music video, but the technical complexity and creativity showcased in these short 4 minutes is astounding.

 

Paragliding
Just a warning that this is a long feature and the pilots have a few “potty mouth” moments (understandable). This film and adventure was an inspiration to me.  Not just what Will and Gavin accomplished, nor because I am looking to repeat their quest, but rather an inspiration to what can be accomplished on a paraglider when you stay focused. It rekindled in me the reasons why I decided to paraglide in the first place, and encouraged me on how I want to continue to approach my craft.

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National Parks
It is no secret that I love to visit and photograph our National Parks. Time lapse photography is also something that consumes much of my photography these days, and I enjoy it immensely. The Pattiz brothers are doing some great things related to both pursuits. Therefore at least one of their excellent videos easily finds it’s way onto my list this year.  I encourage you to check out more of their great work.

 

Life Experience
I have posted this video in the past, but I still love it.  Gnarly Bay always delivers a meaningful film with meaningful life lessons. Over the last several months as I have been dealing with some health challenges in my life this video has been a great inspiration to me. It has helped me deal with the concept of making the most of the cards I am dealt. As you look forward to a new year, perhaps this short film will provide a little inspiration in your life as well.

 

Have you found any videos that inspire you? If so, leave a comment and a link below.  Here is to another excellent year, and may you continue to find your needed inspiration along the way.

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The National Park Project

MS2085The National Park Service was first established on August 25, 1916. A time when we already had 11 designated National Parks within the borders our country. The creation of the National Park Service (NPS) was a monumental event in the history of our country as it became the unified governing body responsible for managing all of our National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other national treasures.  As an organization it is tasked with maintaining the difficult balance between preservation and exploration, conservation and exploitation of many of our greatest national treasures.  Treasures that are meant to be preserved not only for our own enjoyment, but as a means to learn, interact and inspire our lives.

MS868-HDRThe national parks have been a large part of my life the last 20 years and have become an important part of who I am. Growing up in the pristine Wasatch Mountains of Utah, my family never felt the need to visit any national parks. After all, we already lived in the granite mountains, surrounded by meadows, rivers and unlimited recreational opportunities, so why look elsewhere. Therefore, I never experienced as a youth what our national parks had to offer.  I never saw Canyonlands or Arches, Capitol Reef nor Bryce Canyon.  I remember only one time during my high school years visiting Yellowstone National Park for the day.  It was a much different park back then, but I still felt it’s magic and left with a single impression…more, please.

I vowed that when I had a family of my own, the National Parks were going to be a part of our lives.  As soon as Allison and I got married some 20 years ago, the National Parks became an integral part of our new family culture, and quickly became a treasured part of our lives.  It seems that every vacation, or free weekend availed to us, found us within the parks, hiking, learning, exploring and photographing.  It is within the boundaries of the parks where the pursuit of my photography was not only born, but truly discovered.  The parks have helped shaped the way in which I see the world, and ultimately helped me realize my own personal style of outdoor photography.

DS1017As our family has aged, and increased through the years, the national parks, both domestic and abroad, have always remained a part of our lives. My kids, now growing into young adults, genuinely enjoy the national parks and all the unique experiences they help create.  Okay, they sometimes complain about all the hiking, but once the view or experience at the end is realized, even they are inspired.  This should not be a surprise, after all, they have been waddling through the parks ever since they could walk.  As I look back over the years, I realize that as a family we have seen a great many of our national parks, but not all of them……yet!

AD280This leads to my centennial thought.  I have always wanted to see every park, so, as the National Park Service celebrates it’s 100 year anniversary, I think now is the time to complete this lifelong goal once and for all. My kids only have a few more years left at home, and I want to make sure that they see, and experience every designated National Park before they leave our nest.  They have been in many parks throughout their lifetime, but the caveat with this new goal is that they must remember, and have a unique memory of every single park.  If they can’t remember it, it didn’t happen, and is therefore back on the list to complete.  I have to admit, I am really excited for this next chapter of exploration. Excited to be immersed in my photography again, excited to see and learn more things, but most excited to see the memories light up within the eyes of my kids as they not only discover who they are, but continue to discover this beautiful and unique world that surrounds them.

If you want to follow our adventures as we complete this goal over the next few years, check us out on Instagram @jeffambrosephoto or on Twitter @JBAmbrose as I showcase parks we are currently visiting, or ones we have visited in the past.  If you want to buy some of my photographic prints from our national parks, please visit the Portfolio section of this website and help support a local artist.  Also, feel free to ask any questions or share any thoughts on your own national park adventures.