All posts by Road Trip Randy

Midwest kid road tripping California. And eating pizza.

My Top Video Gear for Road Trips and Travel

(Side note: The above photo is just a stock photo, not my actual gear. I thought it looked nice.  But who puts a potted plant in their lineup???)

Many times when people watch my travel videos, they ask “what’d you shoot that on?” or “you must have brought a lot of gear on that trip!”  And what I’ve realized is that many people think gear is everything. They think having the top gear is how you make a great video.  I used to believe this too.  I’ve been guilty of saying “Well, if I had X camera, I could do that too.”  But the truth is I couldn’t.  Good story and execution is what makes a video great.  Everything else are just tools (although I fully admit great gear can elevate your work).  Once I learned this, I stopped focusing so much on having the best gear.  I still buy stuff and I still plan on upgrading from time to time, but the gear I don’t have never stops me from trying to make great videos.

But, when people are just starting out and getting into video as a hobby, sometimes they don’t even know what’s what.  “What do I even need?”  It helps to peek into someone else’s bag and get an idea.  So that’s why I’m making this list.  This is the gear I use to make my videos.  It’s in no way the best, the only way, or even comprehensive, but I hope it serves as a good starting point.

Bag – Almost all my gear can fit in this bag.  It’s great knowing that it’s all in one place. Plenty of space for a few lenses, the front opens for easy access, and there are compartments for batteries, cables, and random things you want to throw in there.

Lowepro Fastpack 250 DSLR Camera Backpack

Day Bag – When you don’t need your full-size backpack and all of the accessories, this one is much easier to take on a hike or go to the beach.  I actually started with this one and bought the bigger 250 once my gear grew.

Lowepro Fastpack 100

Camera – I have the Canon 60d.  It’s old now.  It doesn’t shoot in 4k or capture slow motion footage.  But it’s still capable of shooting great looking video and photos that I’m happy with.  Until I make some serious extra cash, it’s not going anywhere.

Canon 60d

Lens – My Canon 17-55mm lens gives me variety to shoot things both close and far away, portrait style and wide.   I use this lens the most.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm

Wide lens – When I’m shooting landscapes and I really want to show the vastness, I’ll pop on this lens.

Tokina 11-16mm

Circular Polarizer – Improves color and contrast while reducing glare. Really helpful on bright days.  Kinda like sunglasses!

Tiffen Circular Polarizer

Microphone – The microphone on most DSLR cameras is pretty lousy.  I like this one because it’s small, produces good sound, and mounts directly on top of the camera.

Rode VMGO Video Mic GO

GoPro – When I’m going in the water or want to try something creative/risky with the camera, I’ll pull out my GoPro.  I like the accessibility it provides.  You can get shots you normally wouldn’t be able to.

GoPro Hero 4 Black (Previous model)

Cell Phone Battery Packs – If you film with your phone, you’ll want the extra juice to last you through the day.

Anker PowerCore+ mini

External Hard Drive – Having an external hard drive to store all this footage is key.  I like the rugged drives because of their durability.  That’s important when moving around all the time.  A little pricey, but good.

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 2 TB

Phone Tripod – I’ll shoot time lapses or just set up an establishing shot with my phone.  Being able to place it exactly how I want is key.

Tripod or Bendy Tripod – Useful for your big camera too.  Great for night-lapse, long exposure photography, or interesting angles.

MacBook Pro – This is what I have, but there are plenty of great Windows options for editing too.

 

 

Let me know if you have any questions.  I hope this short list was helpful for anyone interested in video and photography.

-Randy

 

DISCLAIMER

Road Trip Randy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I’m Teaching On Udemy: How To Make Videos

Ever since I started making videos, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I do things.  How did you edit like that?   What should I do if I want to start making my own videos?  What kind of camera should I get?

I’ve also always wanted to create an online course.  There’s a small bit of entrepreneur in me.  I wasn’t sure what the topic would be though, because I felt like I had a lot of random skills and knowledge, but not enough in one area.  Then I remembered I have a film degree, work in Hollywood, and constantly make and edit my own videos.   I do know a few things!  So I sat down and wrote out a rough outline and realized I have enough material to create a nice course for beginners.

And that’s what I did. How To Make Videos: Learn Production Basics From Scratch is my video course for beginners.  If you’re interested in making videos for your own brand or just as a hobby and you have no background in it at all, you might enjoy this.  Check out the course description (about halfway down the page) and decide for yourself: https://www.udemy.com/learn-video-production-basics-from-scratch/learn/v4/overview

video production for beginners

I’ve even got a coupon code for readers of this blog.  If you purchase my course by the end of July you’ll get it for 50% off.  $10!

Use This Link To Get 50% Off

 

And if you don’t care about learning how to make videos, no worries. I’ll still post to this blog very regularly (currently that seems to be once every three months).

Thanks for reading!

-Randy

 

MICHIGAN HAS REAL BEACHES

Apparently, if you’re not from the flawless, beautiful, picturesque state of perfection known as California, you don’t have real beaches.

My California friends don’t seem to realize that there are other people around the country (and world) that live quite contently even though they don’t permanently reside in California.  These people go about their day walking the dog, going to work, and hanging out with friends.  They sometimes have to put on a light jacket, but they still find happiness in life! INCREDIBLE!

Some Californians refuse to accept this.  Such arrogance was shown when I told one of my Golden State friends that I was going back to Michigan to celebrate the 4th of July on the beach.

“You know that’s not a real beach right?”

I’ll show you what a real beach is. Cue the video:

 

 

 

Sam Pepper Killing Best Friend Prank: Everything Wrong With Finding Success On YouTube

youtube logo

This isn’t my usual style or topic for blogging, but I have a few things to say about a particular issue.

First, I love YouTube.  It’s great.  For the first time ever, people who don’t have access to a major movie studio,  multimillion-dollar budgets, and expensive equipment can compete against the big dogs…and win.  YouTube has turned everyday consumers into superstars who have more followers, fans, and social influence than many A-list celebrities.  It’s shaken up the way we consume video content to such a degree that mega brands have restructured how they produce content just to keep up with that YouTube “nobody” who’s crushing it online.

Now, if you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen the controversial viral video making its rounds.  I’m not going to link to it, but if you type in “Killing Best Friend Prank” anywhere, I’m sure you’ll find it.

For those of you who don’t know, a successful YouTube prankster named Sam Pepper decided it’d be a great idea to “prank” a friend by kidnapping him and forcing him to watch his best friend get shot.

In Pepper’s own words: “Let’s see how he reacts to his best friend of five years being killed in front of him!”

He literally threw Sam Golbach in the back of a car, then tied him to a chair on a rooftop, and had him watch a masked man “shoot” his best friend in the head.  The video is full of Golbach screaming, crying, and pleading.  The production quality is so high that they even cut the sound and added an emotional musical score while Golbach cries over his friend’s body.  You know, to tug at our heart strings.  All fantastic elements to a dramatic Law & Order episode.  Except that it wasn’t a scripted episode.  At least not to the one who was pranked.  Those were real tears of horror.  All in the name of a good prank, right?

My first response was WTF?

My second was, at what point were we supposed to laugh during this prank?  Aren’t pranks supposed to be funny?

People around the internet are calling him sadistic and disgusting.  Some are even asking him to be banned from YouTube.  All understandable responses to a truly upsetting video.

But my main question is why? Why make that video?

And I think I figured it out (although you are free to still call him sadistic and leave it at that).  I like to call it the YouTube Success Syndrome.  When you make it big on YouTube, you start to see it as your career.  In fact, it becomes your career.  There’s a lot of pressure and expectation to produce amazing videos each time you post.  Not only that, you want to stay relevant and on top.  So you keep trying to one-up yourself.  You can’t put out crappy content, or your career will be over as quickly as it started.  So what can Sam Pepper do?  Well, he can put out a video that’s going to be so controversial or ridiculous or funny or disgusting or amazing that it will send him straight to the top.  Until he has to one-up himself again.  And the cycle repeats.

Let’s take it a step further.  When the cycle keeps repeating, eventually someone is going to cross the line, right?  But where is the line?  What makes YouTube great, in most cases, is that there is no line.  Or, rather, the creators and fans define it.  In traditional television, everything you see on your TV is approved by the network.  They draw the line.  What’s too gruesome? What’s too risqué?  What’s too offensive?  Certain things are censored before they reach your television set.  With YouTube, what the creator makes goes straight to the viewer.  No tape, no censorship.

So when someone arguably crosses the line, the internet enforces itself.  We as fans or viewers become the moral compass.  And if you just take a look at any Twitter feed, it’s clear that people love being the moral compass in controversy.

 

Here’s my main problem with prank videos as a whole:  I’m not a big fan of success at the expense of others. The pranksters are making a profit off someone else’s pain/anger/embarrassment and, in this case, horror and suffering.  Fun, innocent pranks? Great, no problem.  But we’re clearly not talking about that here.  This video was full of real emotion and pain…unless, of course, this whole video is a huge prank on the internet, and they were all in on the joke.

Another big problem with many YouTubers (and any brand on the internet) is their obsession with views, stats, likes, and monetization.  When that’s your motivation, you’re no longer making videos you truly want to make.  You’re making videos so they go viral.  So they get attention.  So you can become more important and successful in the public eye.  That doesn’t always translate to the best (or smartest) video.

I think that was definitely the case here.   If it weren’t for Pepper’s thirst to be successful on YouTube, would he ever prank-kidnap and kill his friends?  I don’t think so.  There would be no point.  This was done purely for shock value.  Sam wanted the outrage.  He wanted the attention.  He lost focus of what a prank is while trying to make the craziest, most viral video possible.  I’d say he succeeded.  As of this writing, the video has 4 million views.  I’m risking giving him more attention by writing about him, but then again, I only have 36 subscribers on YouTube, so who am I?  You might think Sam Pepper is a (insert your descriptive insult here), but he’s a (insert your descriptive insult here) that everyone is talking about.

The lure of success can grab us all.  So before posting that CRAZY, CONTROVERSIAL, OMG video that’s going to blow up the internet, use some common sense.

Common sense for posting on YouTube:

  1.  Be aware of what world events are going on around you.   Do you really think a filmed, bag-over-the-head-style execution prank is a smart thing to post in light of current events?
  2. Is the content you’re posting actually what you say it is? Aren’t pranks supposed to be funny?
  3. Are you posting it for the right reasons? No, money, attention and controversy should never be your primary motivation.
  4. Respect your friends, family, and community.  The best way to show you love your friend is not by agreeing to fake-kidnap him.