How I Shot My Own Baby Announcement Video
News flash: if you have any elementary level photography and video editing skills, you do NOT need to hire a videographer and spend thousands of dollars on a baby announcement video.
Here is a tutorial on how my husband and I shot and edited our own baby announcement in Bora Bora. He helped hold the camera, but I set everything up, told him what to do and what to have framed in the shot, and later edited the video. All you need is two people, and it can include the two people in the video (like we did). And this tutorial can also be used to shoot engagement videos, weddings, and any other special event you want to capture and share!
I’m including the location first because, chronologically, it was the first issue we had to overcome to get shots at a beautiful empty beach in Bora Bora. Not everyone wanting to film their own video will encounter this issue. Finding the right location in Bora Bora was slightly complicated for two reasons: (1) most resorts in Bora Bora are on private property, so there’s really no such thing as an empty “private” beach without any other beachgoers; and (2) drones are illegal on private property—so quite literally every resort in Bora Bora—and also near the airport. So if you want to shoot overhead drone shots like we did, you’ll need to do the following:
1. Find an empty beach
2. Hire a boat charter, or rent one yourself like we did!
We actually did a couple private charters while we were in Bora Bora. With Covid being a concern, we didn’t want to share a boat with other travelers for water excursions. So we hired our own boat charter to see manta rays, sharks and sting rays one day and then rented our own pontoon boat the other day. I would highly recommend the latter option, as it was very affordable and allowed us the flexibility of going wherever we wanted and doing whatever we wanted (like finding an empty beach and shooting a baby announcement video). It cost us only about $350 to rent the boat for a half day (4 hours), and we were able to cruise around, scope out a cool beach to shoot our video, and then spend the rest of the time snorkeling with eagle rays and just relaxing on the boat.
For most videos, I would imagine the above logistics probably aren’t even an issue. But if you do plan to shoot drone shots, make sure you look into the rules ahead of time, as drones are not always legal in certain countries and areas. You should especially make sure your location isn’t anywhere near an airport, as that would put it strictly off limits.
Here is an example of one of the videos, including the video commentary that obviously was cut out. To watch all of our behind-the-scenes videos, head to my YouTube Channel.
2. You need an iPhone and a gimbal
Most people are so surprised to hear that most of our announcement video was shot on my iPhone 11 Max—just before I upgraded to the newest iPhone 12 Pro Max. The key to shooting professional quality videos is actually the gimbal, which stabilizes the shot and gives that smooth, flowey appearance. I use a DJI Osmo Gimbal, which cost a couple hundred dollars when I purchased it, but I believe they’ve gone down in price since then. All you do is download the DJI Memo app, connect the phone to the gimbal, and record the video through the app instead of your iPhone’s camera. I promise, you’ll be shocked at the difference!
When we were on the beach, I had my husband film me walking up the beach, and then writing the words “Baby Wood” in the sand. We did some closeups of my face so you can’t tell at first what is going on. Then I later edited in a combination of shots showing me writing the letters and also just close-ups of my face. When we wanted a video of the two of us—like the one where we are kissing—we just held the gimbal out and flipped the camera to selfie mode. My husband did this since he has longer arms.
3. You need a drone—preferably one with auto modes.
I cannot say enough about how amazing DJI’s drones are. I’ve had several over the years, including two Mavic Airs, a Mavic Mini and now my favorite, the Mavic 2 Zoom. All of these drones have autopilot modes, where all you do is choose your auto-mode (Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, etc.), draw a square around your subject in the controller, and hit “GO”. Then all you do is watch your drone fly away and get the shot, which means you can put the controller down and not have it look like you’re the one flying it in your video. Just be sure there aren’t any obstacles—like palm trees!!—in the way of your drone or the path it will take on an auto-mode.
There’s also Active Track, where the drone will just follow you, like along a beach or hiking somewhere, Terrain Follow Mode (where it follows the terrain) and Gesture Mode (where you can use hand signals to fly it, rather than the controller). Getting a video by yourself—without someone else there to fly it—obviously requires these auto modes so you can set it up and then just let it do it’s thing.
We finished filming our on-ground video first, writing the words “Baby Wood” in the sand, we got a couple different shots with the drone: one of us sitting next to the words, where we used the quick shot mode “dronie”, so the drone started close to us and then zoomed out, revealing what is written in the sane, then filmed one that also started close to us and then zoomed up into the sky, making a circle around us (the Circle mode), and finally set up a shot where I used active track to simply follow us while we walked together, hand-in-hand on the beach.
Here is an example of one of the drone shots. This was taken using Active Track. To watch all of our behind-the-scenes videos, head to my YouTube Channel.
4. You need some basic video editing skills.
There are literally dozens of options out there for editing videos—some more complex and more robust than others. If you’re capable of using Adobe Premiere Pro, then you probably don’t need to read on. But if you’re a beginner or aren’t as familiar with video editing, I would recommend using iMovie or even iPhone apps like Videoshop. Pro Tip: While editing in iMovie on a computer will give you greater flexibility to customize your video, editing in the iMovie app on your phone is actually quite a bit easier.
I used iMovie on my laptop to edit our video. First, I downloaded all the videos and put them into “My Media” in iMovie. Then I dragged each of them into the movie, splicing them where I wanted and moving them around. What I did was flip back and forth between shots of us, shots of me walking on the beach, and then shots of me writing the letters in the sand. Once the letters were written, I added some additional videos of me walking on the beach, and then at the end added the drone shots panning out, split back and forth between the drone flying up higher and me on the beach again, to give it a more cinematic feel.
Then I added the “Romantic” filter to give it a fuzzy, dreamy look. I slowed some of the shots down so they were in slow motion, which also adds to the more romantic feel. Finally, I added royalty-free music (this is important if you want to share across social media and not have your video taken down, which I got from a site called Epidemic Sound. http://www.epidemicsound.com For a small fee, you can browse and download a variety of royalty-free music for your videos.
5. Export and share!
And that’s it! Once you’re finished editing your video, all you have to do is export and share! It’s that easy. I hope this how-to guide helps you film your own special occasion video. If you do, please let me know! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook and show me your finished product!
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