These tips were originally written up for the Mongol Rally, as we were preparing to film the 10th Mongol Rally in our recent videos for "Mongol Rally X" - they are massively relevant to shooting the Mototaxi Junket though, whether you want to shoot for the next Junket video we release or if you are just shooting for yourself
If you want to record your adventure for posterity in moving image form (and lets face it, who doesn't?) you might be pleased to read some filming advice from Adventurist HQ.
Mr Joolz was on the first Mongol Rally and has done a fair bit of film work for the Adventurists over the years. This is what he has to say.
1. Shoot the build up
If you've not already done so, start filming now. Introduce yourself, each-other, film your preparations. Talk about what you're looking forward to/worried about, outline what your mechanical/navigation skills are; make your predictions (how far you'll get etc). Interview your family and friends to see what they think of what you're doing and how well they think you'll do.
Get used to being both in front of and behind the camera, test your camera until you become comfortable with it. Review your footage and think about how you can improve your technique.
2. Shoot the shit bits
When you break down, when your 'taxi breaks down, when you’re lost, tired scared. They might not seem good at the time, but these are the best bits, they humanise you - the subject, they show that what you are doing is tough and they go a long way to make the end seem like a big achievement. They also tend to be quite funny. When your team-mate says “Turn off that camera” you know you're getting some good footage.
If you missed some great action explain what has just happened, how it affects you, what you’re going to do next/what your options are.
3. Set the Scene
When you get some interesting action, make sure you explain what's going on, if the narrative is not clear or if something happens unexpectedly, you can record it afterwards and if necessary edit that explanation in before the action. Remember to say where you are, what you've been doing to draw the viewer into your story.
Get some shots of the location, close ups of bits of what's going on, wide shots. While you're shooting have half an eye on what you'll need for the edited footage.
4. Get out of your vehicle
Get your mates to drop you off, & drive off until out of sight, then film them coming back. Repeat in different countries, in deserts, on mountains, crossing rivers, approaching borders, in forests, in small towns, at night. Also film them driving off too. Try filming your vehicle from another one. Try and shoot stuff from different angles & directions, wide & zoom. These are useful for cutaways, the build up to action, and demonstrating the passage of time.
This will also (hopefully) ensure you don't just have 100 hours of go-pro footage shot down the bonnet of your chosen steed.
5. Be ready to shoot at all times
Always have a camera close by; leave it in an 'auto' setting, always make sure it has batteries charged and a full media card inside. You never know when something interesting will roll out.
Before you hit record – or as soon as your film is rolling, check your exposure, focus batteries & file space etc to make sure you are getting what you expect.
Don't just have your camera on and ready when you are sat in the passenger seat with nothing to do.
6. If in doubt shoot it anyway
If you see something and are worried if it is suitable for your film, shoot it anyway. It easy to leave it out when you come to your edit, it's far harder to go back and shoot the bits you missed.
Though if you're thinking of shooting certain government buildings or at border crossings you might want to be careful.
7. Shoot a story
What stories and events will you try to cover? Are you going to set yourself a 'mission statement' like the guys from the Cookbook Adventure, are you going to set yourself a bunch of tasks or stunts? Have an arm wrestle with a chap from each province you go through/ get invited to a wedding/ Kill & eat your own food/ swap your London souvenirs for food.
Are you going to do a 'daily diary' or similar to explain what is going on and portray the passage of time? Are you going to storyboard your whole adventure (or key bits).
Plan in advance – do some research about what you'll visit along your route could you arrange to meet people to interview? One idea from a 2013 Mongol Rallier was finding folk in the couch-surfing community to give some inside knowledge.
Check out our photography tips blog post, almost all of the stuff in there is relevant for shooting video too
If you're being interviewed by the cameraman, try to speak in encapsulated sentences; ie instead of saying “yes I am” say “I'm really excited about eating this old mutton”
Be flexible with your plans, if something else comes along that is better, be prepared to go with that.
You might want to consider some of the following
-A tripod, just a cheapo one good for timelapeses & interviews
-'Shot-gun' mic with deadcat this is a really important bit of kit
-Power inverter these are cheap and very useful
-LED video light (or any powerful battery operated LED light)
-Second camera (or 3rd) in case one breaks or you might want a wide/long alternative
-Some more media cards
-Hard Drive or Something to back files up to
-Gopro (+ Quadcopter)
-Gorrilapod, Suction mount etc?
Things you might want to shoot:
Two fingers to health & safety
Random acts of kindness to strangers
Here's how you... ... ...on the road
New uses for a Buff
Fastest demonstration of a Buff
-Hold the camera in both hands with elbows against your chest for stability.
-When you pan do so slowly from the waist
-Try to avoid zooming while recording
-If you walk while recording try to do so crouched with bent leg to avoid bouncing the camera
-When you're interviewing try to crop the subject about 20cm over head to about belly button, set them slightly to one side or the other
-It's usually a good idea to have the subject not look directly into the camera, instead 10cm to one side or the other.
-To keep camera movement to a minimum try not to crop too tightly when action is about to happen
Wind, Rewind And Print
Once you've got your digital film in the bag you need to decide what to do with it. We are happy for you to share it with as many of the 4 billion people on the planet as possible, but if you have any broadcast plans or if you intend to sell your footage to anyone, or just give to a sponsor you need to give us a shout first.
We are usually happy to accommodate any projects people have in mind, but first we need to check they don't interfere with any rights we've previously granted, we also like to make sure no big corporations are taking advantage of our good name without proper recognition.