Viewer Question: How I make travel videos

YouTuber BlackHat2005 sent this question in:

Hello, Steve, This is Black Hat (BlackHat2005 on YT). Thank you for directing me to your email. It’s certainly easier to direct questions into an email rather than bit by bit in a conversation on FB.

I was wondering exactly how you make your documentary style videos like your recent Island Hopping  and Coron Wreck Dive videos. I’m more curious as to how you plan out the video in terms of know how and what to shoot, B-roll clips, time line of events, the editing process and recording in the studio. If it’s not too much trouble, a basic run down of how it’s done.

Your Island Hopping video inspired me to try and do a siplease send it inmilar project possibly showcasing one of the cities in Israel, but the more I work towards it, the harder I realize the project to be.

Thank you, Blackhat2005

Here’s my answer:

If you have a question for me, !

It’s More Fun Island Hopping In The Philippines – Coron Edition

It’s time once more to head back to The Philippines for another grand adventure. This week, we’re in Coron. It’s located about and hour from Busuanga on the southern tip of the island. When locals talk about escaping to a beautiful place in the Philippines, this is one spot that often comes up.


When walking around Coron, you’ll see several tour operators, offering various island hopping packages. While in some cases you will need to make a reservation, many of the packages are the same, so you’ll need to look at the specific destinations and the price to get the deal that best suits you. We opted for a six-stop tour that was only P650 per person (just over $15US).


Calamianes Expeditions offers ten different packages and was by far the cheapest we found in town. They have a variety of all-in tours, meaning that all fees are included and you get water/drinks/lunch while out. Many of the other operators in town were charging p100 or more for the same packages. Aside from the Coron Island Tour we took, other popular ones are the Banana Island Tour and Calauit Safari Tours. Follow the link for more information on each tour.

The first stop on our journey was at CYC Island. The boat dropped anchor and allowed us to go swimming and snorkeling for about 45 minutes. The water was quite shallow, allowing me to stand in about chest-high water. But I wasn’t there to stand; I was there to see what lurked beneath the surface.


Before I knew it, the crew called us back and it was time to move on to the second stop: Twin Peaks Reef. It took about 20 minutes to cruise over the open sea, but that was fine by me, our group enjoyed the open water and took in the rays. The reef location here was far superior to CYC Island. It also offered up from deeper waters, allowing me to dive down to examine the fish and coral closer. What I found on the bottom was predominately spiny coral; but as fun as it was getting down with the fish, I’d rather be SCUBA diving so I wouldn’t have to bob and down as frequently.

While we were swimming, our crew never let a moment go to waste. They began cooking our lunch, preparing fresh fish and chicken. When our time was up, we hoisted anchor and set sail for Bulunga Beach. It looked like something out of a post card.

After lunch it was time to depart for a couple of more stops before ultimately reaching our final destination of Kayangan Lake. If you thought the beautiful islands we had seen so far were amazing, you haven’t seen anything yet. Navigating through shallow water, we pulled up to an old bamboo dock. Then we took our snorkeling gear and hiked up a short mountain, through lush woods, and then down to a pristine brackish water lake (a mixture of salt and fresh water). Swimming here was incredibly peaceful – but adventures were also to be had. We were shown a small cave, large enough for ten… and of course I had to go in. It was certainly the highlight of the trip.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. As the sun began to sink lower on the horizon, we boarded our seafaring vessel one last time and began heading back to port.

Island hopping in Coron is a great experience and there is enough to do on multiple days. The entire video was filmed with the GoPro and QuikPod. Probably the shot I am most proud of in this video is the swimming/snorkeling shot. I’m amazed it came out so good. I had to do a fair amount of color correction for the underwater shots, but that took just a few seconds to sort out (it’s easiest with the three-way color correction tool in FCP and just adjust the whites).

So there you have it… what’s your favorite island hopping activity?

Learn to Play Yut Nori

This week, my Korean Game series continues on The Korea Blog.


I chose this game because it’s one of the most fun people can have when gathering. Unlike many games that are limited to a specific number of players, that isn’t the case for Yut. While there are only two teams involved, you could conceivably play the game with 2000000000 people. It would be boring for most, but you could do it.

Set-up for this video was the same as last week’s. The Canon HFS11 provided much of the close up shots, while the GoPro Hero2 shot the wide-angle areas. My second GoPro was teamed with the Edutige ETM-006 to capture audio and everything was synced in post.

It’s More Fun SCUBA Diving In Boracay, The Philippines

When Jo and I decided that we’d be returning to Boracay (Philippines), there was one thing I wanted to do more than anything else – go SCUBA diving. My brother Gary and I have been certified divers since 1997, and I love getting wet any chance I can. Therefore, armed with my GoPro Hero2 and QuikPod Monopod, I teamed up with Dive Gurus once more to explore some of the best diving in the Philippines.


Accompanying me on my dive was Edwin, one of the Dive Masters at Dive Gurus. He knows the area inside and out, having worked in the area a long, long time. From the dive shop’s beachfront location, we cruised on their boat for about 15 minutes before donning our gear and back-rolling off the deck. From there, we descended to a depth of about 18m, skimming the surface of the surrounding corals before arriving at the Camia. “It is a 30 meter-long cargo boat that was sank as a Fish Attraction Device in January 2001. It has since developed very nicely as an artificial reef. Residents and transients include a couple of huge red bass, some bluefin trevallies, scorpion fish, trumpet fish, ghost pipefish, squid, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, a school of batfish, and nudibranchs, among others.” (DiveGurus website)

We arrived and quickly swam around the exterior of the submerged vessel. Then, much to my delight, Edwin signaled it was time to penetrate the wreck. The Camia has two cargo holds large enough for SCUBA divers to enter. Swimming up to deck level, we proceeded to one of the cargo openings and then entered the sunken ship. Quickly I was enveloped in darkness; however, there was always at least one light source, since the holds are connected and exposed.

Because of the depth (30m), our bottom time (dive time) was limited to about 30 minutes. It sounds like a long time, but underwater, it goes quick. After swimming through the Camia, it was time to return to the ascent line and make our way up to the surface. It was a great experience and a lot of fun.

How it was filmed

This video was show entirely with the GoPro Hero2 and the QuikPod Monopod. Land segments were shot using the Hero2’s Skeleton Housing and an Edutige ETM-001. I’m not sure why the sound was so bad in the opening segment – it’s almost as if the mic wasn’t attached to the camera. In any case, it sounded great in the signoff.

During the dive, the Hero2 was enclosed in the Hero2 Dive Housing. This case is obsolete with the Hero3, but a must for those with older cameras. Since light changes under the water, in post-production, I needed to color correct the tint, otherwise the images would have been even greener than seen in the video. I also turned on spot metering for this video, since light fluctuated significantly.

Probably the most fun part of this video was filming with the QuikPod. The opening boat shot was filmed with the monopod extended fully and swinging into place. Under water, the QuikPod proved to be a great tool, allowing me to not only film myself, but also switch to a POV mode and capture things directly ahead of me. Fully extending the monopod, allowed me to capture images of Edwin and me swimming, and while not included in the final video, the framing was easy. Probably the most difficult shot of the trip was of me swimming through the wreck. Extending the QuikPod out that far made turning in tight quarters a little hard. I would have loved to fully extend the monopod, but it just wasn’t possible.

What did you think of this video? Did you like the use of the monopod? Please share your thoughts below.


How to Play Gonggi

Shall we play a game? It’s one of my favorite lines from War Games and it never gets old. NEVER I TELL YOU! This month, I’m starting a new series on The Korea Blog about popular games in Korea. The first game I chose to write about was Gonggi (공기) or Korean Jacks. You can get the full story here.


The game is quite easy, and only involves throwing a stone up into the air and scooping up one or more off the playing surface. For some reason, I usually suck at this. However, during the shoot for this video, I was actually able to make it through the five rounds of play for the first time ever.

Gonggi is a great game, and even though it is a few hundred years old, still enjoys some degree of popularity among children.

The video was shot using my normal “3” camera set up. The Canon HFS11 as the close-up camera operated by Jo. The wide-angle shots are from a GoPro Hero2. Hero2, camera 2 was tucked away in my pocket and supplied the audio courtesy of an Edutige ETM-006.

I’m really quite pleased with the outcome of this video and think it does a great job explaining the rules. I only wish I had some mad skills with this game. Next week, we’ll continue the series with another popular family game, just in time for the Lunar New Year.

My question for you today is two-fold. First, have you ever played jacks or gonggi? How good are you? Also, what’s your favorite childhood game? Be sure to leave a comment in the area below.

My Life: Friends

facebook_friend_requestCan we be friends? Over the past twenty years, the notion of what friends are has changed. When I was growing up, a friend was someone you met and routinely had contact with. They were someone you knew and whose house you frequented. Since the dawn of the digital age, the definition has changed to include someone you merely come in contact with online. Is a friend on Facebook, really a friend? Over the years, I’ve met a number of people online and had deep meaningful discussions with them. In fact, in some cases, the topics of conversation were more vast than what I was able to have in person. The way we communicated through online videos and chat was as real as a face to face discussion. In fact, when we finally did meet, it was as we were old friends and not strangers. I put forward that in the digital age, one can have deep meaningful connections with others through the Internet and other means of communication. However, is simply “friending” someone classify them as a friend? It’s a question that has come up more than one in legal circles. What do you think? Has the definition of a friend evolved in the digital age or are we reaching out to find new ways to communicate as many become more isolated behind a screen?

This was another My Life Vlog; however, this one is a little different. The intercut scenes are actually from a Vlog on the other channel:

I chose to use this for the topic of conversation, since I’m always amazed when individuals have their feelings hurt when someone unfriends them on Facebook. These are often when someone doesn’t speak to the person on a regular basis or even considers them to be a true friend. But the action of unfriending them seems to affect them as if they had really lost a friendship. I included my “unboxing” of sorts for the clips to demonstrate that true friendships can develop online.

I Have Some New Coffee

QiRanger - tomoko - japanese coffee - Steve Miller-1

When Jim and Tomoko came to Korea last week, not only did they bring me some American Honey, they brought some coffee. Well, to be exact, Tomoko brought me some of her favorite Japanese coffee. In this first Wonderful Wednesday Vlog, I sat down and tried it for the first time in a mug they sent back in 2010.

I really like the flavor of the coffee. It really hit the spot today.

A Day With John – A GoPro and Edutige Video

I’ve been a YouTuber since 2007 (2006) if you count when I first created my account. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to meet many YouTubers in person. Without a doubt, doing so has always been a positive experience. This past November, I was jazzed to find out that John (Phampants) finally decided to come to Asia and chose Korea as his first stop.

John Korea qiranger bukchon

While only here for a few days, I was determined, not only to show him a good time, but show him as much of Korea as I could in a limited time. Here’s a few places we hit:

  • All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ
  • Chocolate Sundaes
  • Makgeolli House
  • Myeongdong
  • Myeongdong Cathedral
  • Cheonggyecheon
  • Jongno
  • Gyeongbokgung
  • Bukcheon Hanok Village
  • DMZ
  • Suwon Fortress
  • Bongeunsa Temple

There was little time to stay seated… as the saying goes… so much to do, so little time.

The above video was from our day in Seoul and I must say it was a pure joy.

The entire video was shot with the GoPro Hero2 using an Edutige ETM-001 external mic. While the camera performed well, the mic was lacking in windy conditions. This really drives home the point that when outside, one really needs to invest in a dead cat to cut down on wind noise. Thankfully, I have a new mic cover coming that should completely resolve that issue.

This brings me to the following question: Do you have pen pals or online friends that after years of communicating, finally get a chance to meet in person? What happened? Please share your story below. Over the years, I’ve met several of my readers and subscribers and find it a great experience.

Please, if you ever see me out and about filming, or even walking, come up and say hello. I would love to meet you!

I Am A Bad Father

Okay, so I don’t have a child, but I still feel like I’ve been a bad father. In 2010, I purchased Little T, a traveling mascot. It was my goal to take a picture with him every day for 365. That project failed after one month. Then it was my goal to take him on all my adventures and snap up shots with him out in the wild. For the most part, I’ve failed there as well. After seeing Chistopher Mast take some amazing shots of his new daughter, I’ve realized, that I am a bad father. Little T has been hidden too long… it is time for the little guy to fly!

Little T Korea - QiRanger - sejong

While taking John to some of the sights in the Jongno area, I thought placing Little T inside the honcheonui would be brilliant. I love the way the picture turned out with King Sejong looking down in the back.

Little T Korea - QiRanger - coffee

Not necessarily the best coffee in the world, but I find it the best instant coffee I’ve had in a long time. On days when I need to get up and out in a hurry, I turn to this trusted stash of caffeinated goodness. It appears that Little T also wanted to stake his claim on the  goodness.

Over the next year, get ready for a lot of Little T. I am on a mission to get him out and about! Look for more pictures on the blog, but be sure you’re following on Instagram, since he’ll be showing up there quite often!

What I would like to know, is this: do you have a traveling companion that you take with you? Some small item that always is with you that you take pictures of while out on the road? If you do, please tell me about it and post an image in the comments below!