Creating a Vacation Video Worth Watching

Tips for capturing dynamic content with your smartphone.
by 928

Let’s admit it: No one wants to watch a tedious vacation video that feels longer than the trip itself. By following a few key guidelines for capturing the most compelling moments of your trip, you can create engaging videos that entertain—and preserve your memories. Here are our strategies for doing it.

General Video Content

  • Plan for success – In the movie business, this is called pre-production. Review your Royal Caribbean cruise itinerary to consider what will be worth shooting on your trip and what moments you don’t want to miss.
  • Know your story – Determine the “theme” of your vacation. Is it a family reunion, romantic getaway or your first trip out of the country? Think about the specific shots that might tell that story.
  • Shoot short – Think of your video as a highlight reel: document moments you want to remember, and keep in mind that the smallest things can bring back the strongest memories. Less than 10 seconds per shot is a good rule of thumb to keep footage manageable when editing.
  • Focus on people, not just places – Rather than solely concentrating on the scenery, capture your family and friends against magnificent backdrops like beaches and volcanoes.
  • Talk to people – An advantage of video over still photography is that it records how we think and speak, not just how we look. Interview your kids, talk to your spouse, and bring in people you meet along the way.
  • Be selective – Get a variety of angles and change your perspective—but shoot sparingly. Keep individual videos to no more than three minutes. If you approach filming with the eyes of an editor, you’ll have less work to do when reviewing your footage.

Shooting Video with Your Smartphone

It’s been said that the best camera out there is the one you have with you, so it’s no surprise that the smartphone is becoming the most-used type of camera in history. But when it comes to taking mobile videos, there are a few tips to avoid unpolished, washed-out, shaky and grainy footage.

        • Turn the phone lengthwise – Our eyes are aligned side-by-side, not on top of each other, so it makes sense to capture life the way we see it.
        • Use a tripod or stabilizer – To avoid distortion and blurring. In cases where you can’t use one, hold your smartphone as close to your body as possible to steady it.
        • Stay steady – Avoid zooming (rapidly changing between long shots and close-ups), “firehosing” (sweeping all over a scene without remaining on anything long enough to look at it) and “snapshooting” (taping in two- or three-second bursts as if taking still photos). The results will be hard to watch.
        • Good lighting is critical – Because smartphones have smaller image sensors and lenses, it’s best to shoot in well-lit areas, avoid drastic variations in light, and always keep the sun at your back.
        • Careful with audio – Microphones on smartphones are poorly placed for recording, so audio typically is low quality. If you can’t avoid ambient noise, which will likely drown out more important audio, consider adding appropriate music over the final video.
        • Edit – Take advantage of video editing software like Apple’s iMovie or WeVideo for Android, which can add professional elements to amateur videos.


Rules That Apply to All Cameras:

        • Pay attention to how you frame your subject, and don’t always go for the obvious shot.
        • Respect the rule of thirds, which divides a frame into a 3 x 3 grid, to help compose more interesting shots.
        • Place your subject somewhere other than the center of the frame.
        • Anticipate your subjects’ actions and give them space to move. Likewise, if someone is facing the left or right, move him or her to the opposite side of the frame.
        • If you can’t fit a subject’s entire body in a shot, crop at a natural cutoff line, such as the elbows, knees, or hips.
        • If still photography is more your style, check out our tips for shooting great still shots.


As with anything, the more often you do something, the better you become at it. Don’t wait until the first day of your vacation to start shooting video or stills—practice at home to learn which techniques produce the best results. Get a jumpstart on planning your next vacation’s shot list by checking out highlights of Royal Caribbean ships and destinations.