Todays Fellow Travel Video Blogger is Colm Hanratty who is the Editor for HostelWorld along with being the star of their great informative travel videos and podcasts. Lucky to have landed such a great gig, I hope I will get paid to make travel videos some day too!
You should watch: Barcelona – 10 Things You Need To Know
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your websites and what got you motivated to start traveling? How did you get the travel bug?
After studying journalism in college, I went to Australia on a working-holiday visa for 12 months. Upon returning I had to return to college to complete my degree. One of the subjects I had to complete was ‘Web Authoring’. For this we had a project to make a website, and thus Oztrek.com was born. This was a hobby for a while I worked in the bank. But then I found out that Hostelworld.com was based in Ireland so I sent them my CV (resume in Irish-English) and ended up getting the job of travel writer. For those of you unaware of Hostelworld.com, it’s the market leader when it comes to booking hostels online. It has lots of travel information also ie travel guides, videos, podcasts and a blog. I manage all of that.
I’m not sure what gave me the travel bug initially. A lot of my friends were already over in Australia and I was hearing nothing but positive things about the place. I knew that it was ‘now or never’ when I finished college so just went for it. But since that journey, my appetite for travel is a lot bigger.
2. Even if you hadn’t gotten the job with HostelWorld do you think you would of become a frequent traveler?
Definitely – be it weekends away to European cities or long-haul trips to the other side of the world, I’d be travelling as much as I can.
3. Was it your decision to add Video to the Hostelworld site? Why did you decide to incorporate video?
Yes, was my idea. In the past other people suggested adding other features to the sites (free downloadable PDF guides & podcasts for instance), but the idea to introduce video was mine. I said it to my boss at the time that we should start doing video, she agreed so I looked for a course in video production and that was that. Haven’t looked back since. What made me introduce video was to keep ahead of the times. They were introduced in August 2008 before video really started to lift off.
4. Aside from yourself, do you have any favorite people that make travel videos? Anyone that has inspired you or whom you just enjoy good content from?
I like Concierge.com’s videos, in particular their ’24 hours in…’ series. Their ’24 hours in Paris’ video gives you a great feel of the French capital and is really well produced. I like Lonely Planet’s videos also. The way they have the authors speaking over the videos is a nice touch.
5. From creating these videos for HostelWorld has it inspired you to make your own travel videos outside of work?
Would love to say yes but since I shoot the videos, present them, do the voiceover and edit them also, I don’t have time to do any videos outside of work!
6. What has been your favourite travel video that you have made to date?
That would have to be my “10 things you need to know about New York City” videos. It features all five boroughs of New York which others don’t, it helped Hostelworld.com win a Webby Award in 2009, and it has over half a million views on YouTube at the moment.
7. Did you have any previous filmmaking experience?
Not really. We touched on it in college, but not enough that I could say I had ‘experience’.
8. Do you have any tips for other people who are wanting to start making travel videos?
I certainly do. First of all, if you want your videos to look professional, get a tripod. The first video I made is full of handheld footage. The first thing my lecturer from the video course pointed out when he saw it was that I needed to use the tripod more. Make sure to mix up the shots also – take lots of stationary shots but also lots of pans and tilts. Maybe the odd zoom out, but definitely no zoom ins…
9. What equipment do you use? Camera? Editing program? Type of computer?
I use one of the JVC Everio range. Main reason for that is that it has a microphone in jack which is vital for the wireless mic for the ‘piece to cameras’. It’s a good camera, but is awful shooting in the dark. For editing I’m Adobe Premiere all the way. My computer is a fairly speedy windows-based machine from Dell.
10. Vimeo or Youtube?
Both. I find Vimeo’s quality is better, but YouTube’s is good also. For maximum exposure you have to be on YouTube. But for even more exposure you need to be on Vimeo too.
11. How do you go about promoting your videos? Suggestions for other people to promote theirs?
We promote the videos wherever possible. We’ve over 3,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel so that’s a good start. Like everybody else, social media is big for us, so we tweet about all our videos once they go live and blog about them to. We upload a different video to facebook weekly also. We have our newsletters too which are a great way of promoting our videos and other content.
My advice to others looking to promote their videos would be to use social media as best as possible. It’s the best way to gain attention if you don’t have a newsletter database to send to. Another piece of advice would be to us as many video sites as possible. It isn’t all about YouTube, Vimeo, Break or the other big video sites. There are smaller ones too. Check out TubeMogul.com which enables you to distribute your videos to numerous sites at once. And if your videos are travel related, make sure to upload them to travel-specific video sites like Tripfilms.com and Baraaza.com
12. How long do you suggest a video should be 2min? 10min? A good length to keep people watching but not bore them?
If you do research on this, you’ll read that online videos should be in and around 3 minutes. But our most popular videos are the “10 things you need to know about…” videos which are on average 8 minutes long. In saying that, we appreciated that they were too long and have since introduced other suites of videos (“How to videos” and “video postcards”) which are around 3 minutes long. If you can though, keep it short. If you simply can’t pack everything you want into a 3-minute video though, break up the video into different sections. Our “10 things videos” flow nicely since every 40 seconds or so there’s another segment.
13. How much advanced planning do you put into your videos?
If it’s a city I know well, then I’ll have the entire ’10 things’ drawn up, will have a shooting schedule laid out and will have the script written. So I do a bit of advanced planning I suppose. But I’ve also arrived at a city not knowing what the ’10 things’ are going to be, and just have to wing as I’m staying there. This was kind of the case with my Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro videos.
14. How much time do you put into making each video?
From start to finish, each video takes around 10 days. The initial planning takes up the guts of one or two days, between drawing up the script, contacting people for permission to film inside different places etc. Then when shooting, I generally stay in a city for 6 nights when shooting a ’10 things’ video. You have to be there that long to allow for things like bad weather, or shooting somewhere where somebody wants to meet you, and that somebody then wants to chit chat for a few hours. Then when I get back, the process of transferring all the footage from the camera to my machine, recording the voice over, then putting it all together takes around three days.
Thanks for the awesome interview Colm! I think I would really love to have your job!