In July 2018 my wife and I took the trip of a lifetime to Maui, Hawai'i. Being a filmmaker and finding myself traveling to one of the most visually stunning places on the planet; naturally, I wanted to capture some incredible footage of the island while I was there, partly to document the trip for us, but also, selfishly, to show my skillset to a broad audience.
Before I go into what was involved, I want to tell you a secret. I didn't use a single cinema camera on this shoot. Truth is, they are pretty bulky to take on vacation...especially when you are trying to bring snorkeling gear, buckets of sunscreen (Zinc to protect the fishes and corral), and when you have the intention of bringing back all the pineapple, you can carry. Anyway, I digress. Every camera that I used could be easily stowed, pocketed, or placed in a rucksack.
The list of gear was short:
DJI Mavic Pro
GoPro Hero 3+
That was it! Sure, I had some mounts, handles, etc., but those are small and can easily fit in the crevises of a suitcase.
So what was involved? The first thing is just being in the right place right time. Maui is a canvas, I mean you can film a trash can, and it will look amazing because of all the scenery around it, so for me, the important thing was just making sure my equipment was with me when we went on day trips.
My wife and I took the road to Hana one day, which is a famous drive that takes all-day to do. We knew we were going to stop along the way, so I'd say "Okay, let's get the camera on the car and film some of the drive." "Let's park here, I'll take the drone up and film areas that you wouldn't normally get to see." That was my creative force for the whole production, show parts of Maui that most people wouldn't get to see. We filmed sunsets on pretty remote beaches, and the opening shot is on the summit of Mount Haleakala. We were there at 4 a.m. to make sure that we could see the sunrise and this meant setting up time-lapse cameras in the dark, with a cellphone flashlight because you can't see anything up there, there are no lights.
When the Sun comes up, you've got your shot! Or so you hope because once you are set up, you should be watching the sunrise with your own eyes, not through the lens of a camera. The breathtaking sight is not something to be missed.
I took an event coverage approach to film in Maui. Anyone who shoots weddings or events knows that that's basically your life, you get one chance to get it right. I was also on vacation with my wife remember, and I wanted to go snorkeling and hang out on the beach, I didn't want to be filming all the time. By applying the event approach to the filming, it allows me to get it right the first time.
If you are asking, "Does your wife put up with you filming on vacation?" The answer is, yes, but not at first. While I am very respectful of both of our time when we go away on vacation, it took her some time to get on board with the idea. I shot a video in Edinburgh a few years ago, we walked through historic Edinburgh, around the castle, places like that. She was not happy about my filming, she'd say "We're on vacation! What are you doing?" However, when I showed her the video after I'd edited it, she immediately understood what I'd been doing. She realized that these are actually lovely travel videos for us as well as fantastic pieces that showcase my video production capabilities. After that, it was easier to get her on board.
The fact that this video was made with a 5+-year-old GoPro, an iPhone, and some other affordable camera gear goes to show that the camera is a pretty small part of what makes a video good. A camera is a tool, simply put, no button on it says, "Good Video." You need to know how to use the tool to capture the shot you need to make your video incredible.
By Michael Lunt | Mike is the owner of Parasol Media, a video production company in Columbus, OH. He has spent over a decade assisting small businesses with realizing their creative vision for video content. From social media videos to broadcast commercials, Mike's industry experience has placed him all over the world to create content that moves.