In October 2018 I had the opportunity to travel to Japan, over eight days I gained some understanding of this culture vastly different to my own with its rich history and I was inspired to expand on my passion for photography and film-making so I could share my experiences with others. One of my favourite vloggers is Casey Neistat, who has over 10 million subscribers. I drew on his techniques as inspiration for my own vlog to capture my journey in Japan. Using his artistic skills alongside my own vision I wanted to create a ‘vlog’ style video conveying to my audience key things about Japanese culture and history. The Casey Neistat “vlog” format consists of a personal and relaxed video that invites the audience to share in his journey; this is something I wanted to replicate. I want viewers to feel they are coming with me on my adventure, and learn with me all the things Japan has to offer.
His video ‘HOW TO VLOG LIKE CASEY NEISTAT by CASEY NEISTAT’ was particularly helpful as the tutorial explained basic techniques to use when filming and also conveyed this in a way that was easy to understand especially for a beginner like me. Following Neistat’s videos I also watched ‘MY ALL TIME GREATEST!!!’ and ‘Peter Mckinnon teaches me to VLog (in AMSTERDAM)’ Using these resources, I was able to go to Japan with a vision and understanding of how I wanted my video to be presented, this made coming home and starting the editorial process easy. I realised that it was also important to plan footage ahead of time by looking at my schedule. I also researched into Japanese vlogs discovering one vlog by Marianna Hewitt ‘TRAVEL VLOG: TOKYO, JAPAN’ Having seen the itinerary for my own trip I realised she had visited places I would be going to, so I used this video for inspiration to help me get an idea of filming techniques as well as capturing them in a way that would be interesting to an audience.
Furthermore, I spent the weeks before Japan researching the culture and how it differs to other countries, especially England. I reviewed and read three articles from the website ‘Lonely Planet’. These articles in particular were very useful, especially with understanding in a wider depth about the places we would be soon visiting. One article shared information about Kyoto, it read ‘Kyoto is a walk-in mysterious places’ I was able to expand my knowledge further about the ‘cultural encounters’ as a tourist I would experience. Another article I found when researching was ‘etiquette tips’ for travelling in Japan as a whole. This was particularly important to understand the culture and behaviour before travelling to a country that is so incomparable to anything I had ever experienced before. From reading about the importance of Geisha girls to the Japanese culture I researched the fascination behind the Geisha girls. One article ‘Gion’ clearly conveys the purpose of Geisha girls but also the problems the Geisha girls face due to paparazzi. I had to remember to be careful when trying to capture something that is so clearly valuable to the Japanese culture but also remember that capturing a video or a picture of a geisha girl would be incredibly difficult.
Through research, it became increasingly clear that it is vital to understand the culture of Japan to truly assimilate and appreciate all that Japan has to offer. I came across one article ‘30 Reasons to visit Japan – Why you should visit Japan once in your life’ which emphasized the cultural importance of Japan which was rated number three on their list of reasons to visit this amazing country. I decided this vlog would be the perfect opportunity to elaborate and expand people’s knowledge of Japan. Japan is a country that has a tradition at the core of everyday life and thought I would be able to capture my personal experience by creating a vlog exploring my experience of many different areas of the culture that I was exposed to.
After filming all the footage when I was in Japan, when I got home I had to choose music for the vlog. I started by reading the article ‘How To: Choose the Right Music for Your Video’
I also watched the YouTube video ‘3 TIPS On Choosing THE BEST MUSIC For Videos’ by Matti Haapoja. However, I did not find this video helpful as it recommended a music downloading website ‘epidemicsound’ which required a fee to actually access any of the music, not wanting to do this for a website I had not heard of before I was then back at square one. I had a clear vision of the kind of music I wanted, and how it should link to the video. I wanted to be selective in my choice of music as I wanted it to reflect the feelings of excitement and adventure which I experienced on my journey. I decided to re-watch some of Casey Neistat’s videos to understand the type of music he uses in the background of his videos. He too uses music to help viewers to share in his emotions. After this my next step was to use SoundCloud and I discovered an account ‘Casey Neistat Vlog Music’ this is an account created containing music Neistat uses in his videos. Again, I was not successful in finding something which was right for my own video. But I realised that it was important to spend time on this process as choosing the wrong song would not do the footage justice as it would invite the wrong feelings in my audience. I then went back to YouTube and came across a playlist called ‘Travel Vlog Music’. One of the songs included in this playlist was called ‘Adventure’ by an artist called A Himitsu I realised was a perfect fit to the type of music I wanted for my video. The lively tone, as well as a constant beat, would enable easy editing and capture the feelings I experienced on my travels, ones of excitement and anticipation. The climaxes in the music would also enable the technique used by Neistat to be portrayed in my own video, as he places the most captivating clips of footage right at the climax in music to add to feelings of elation in his audience. One of Casey’s key techniques which I emulated is to edit the vlog around the beats of the music. I used this method in my own editing, as I tried to edit my own vlog around the climaxes and the beat.
After I had found the perfect song to suit my video I used the website SoundCloud to download and transfer the music to iMovie (which is the free editing software that I used). The song luckily was free to download and had no copyright, allowing me and other users to use it freely. I quickly realised that one song would not be enough, as this song was only 3 minutes and 44 seconds, meaning the song would not last for the duration of my video. I had a clearer idea this time of where to look for good ‘vlog’ style music so I turned to SoundCloud again and discovered a track called ‘Summer Vibes’ by Simon More which was recommended by the website after listening to the other song I used. The reason I picked this second track was that the song unlike the first song, ‘Summer Vibes’ had a gradual climax which I thought would draw attention to the video and keep the audience interested due to the delayed climax, creating more anticipation. The music tracks had elements of similarity but had enough differences to add a new depth of excitement instead of boring an audience with a repetitive and unending song. Another issue I was faced with was blending the two tracks together. I wanted a smooth transition to make the change between the songs as subtle as possible. I picked the two songs as they are both upbeat and fit with the theme of the video. I wanted songs that both reached climaxes or beat drops which enabled me to replicate the editing techniques of Neistat.
Despite being the main focus of my EPQ being the progression of the editing and learning how to produce a vlog, it was also my aim to reflect the culture and history of the country of Japan. I was worried that this would not be shown clearly enough in my video. I then spoke to my supervisor about this worry in order to get a second opinion, after this discussion I realised my video needed to be clearer in its portrayal of the culture in order for my audience to get a true understanding of what it was like. I then went beyond my original plan which was simply editing the footage which I took whilst in Japan. I had hoped that the video clips I had filmed whilst travelling would be clear in their explanations, but I wanted to do a thorough job of explaining and this had not been achieved with my existing footage. I therefore decided to re-record speaking clips to make sure the story I was telling was streamlined. I also recorded voiceovers to explain in further depth activities I carried out whilst I was in Japan. I decided to add in the extra dialogue to explain to my audience the activities I participated in and how they portray the culture and history of Japan. I came to the understanding that without the extra explanation, some of the cultures is lost as my audience wouldn’t necessarily understand what I was doing in the video and how the activity actually shows the culture and history of Japan. I felt this was especially important when I explained in depth about Kanji writing and how important it is to portray Japanese culture. I then noticed my knowledge was flawed and I then researched more into the different types of Japanese writing, combining knowledge from research and the knowledge I had gained whilst in Japan through talking to our personal tour guide. I realised I could explain to my audience clearly what Kanji writing actually is. I read the article ‘Is stroke order important in Japanese writing’ Written by Queenie Kawabe. The article helped me understand the importance of Kanji writing and reminded me about the brushstroke techniques we learned whilst in Japan. These questions stemmed to import more audio in other places throughout my video where I explain activities or locations that are crucial to Japan. This train of thought resulted in adding dialogue to three more areas of my video. This was an obstacle I did not expect, but now after gaining more insight into the art of film-making (even on this small scale) not everything goes to plan, and also it was important that I enjoyed my time travelling and was not just seeing a country through a camera lens.
Additionally, after inserting new clips and changing the order of my video I realised that I had a problem with the music. As I had used Neistat’s technique (editing the video clips around the beat of the music) all the music was now out of sync, due to the reordering of clips. This was quite frustrating as it had been a very lengthy process to time clip transitions around music. I had to watch the video multiple times, drawing on my newfound technique of ‘splitting clips’ (meaning literally clips are cut at different points) to time the change of clips to music. I learned this basic technique when I came across a video ‘How to Split a Clip (iMovie 2018) by BTech Reviews. This video had the most updated iMovie software meaning that it was up to date with the latest features. The video was useful as I could follow it step by step making it easier to practise and learn the technique.
Moreover, before adding in the voiceovers, I was worried that my video as a whole was too short as generally when I researched travel vlogs the time frame would range between 6 minutes to 15 minutes. However, with the extra footage added I increased my video from around 4 minutes to nearly 7 minutes, I was happy with this outcome as I wanted my footage to be ‘quality over quantity but I also wanted it to be long enough in order to teach my audience about the culture; the extra detail was necessary to ensure my video portrayed what I wanted it to. However, even when adding extra footage, I ensured I was very selective and only used the best parts of the clips. A high-standard video was something I really valued, and unnecessary clips which added length were not included. In Japan, I purposely filmed longer clips so I could be selective in my editing process. I wanted to have a large selection of footage to choose from so I wasn’t scrambling for clips or missing vital parts of my trip which portrayed the culture.
In order to see if my audience learned anything about this beautiful culture, I produced a questionnaire. My audience has consisted of staff and Sixth form students at my school. I instructed the participants to fill this out throughout the duration of the video. The aim was to see if my audience was able to answer questions about the culture and history of Japan based on my video. The questions created were based on things they saw and heard in the video. I calculated with 21 candidates and 10 questions to answer I had a success rate 95% (success meaning they answered the questions about culture correctly). This, therefore, proves that indeed my video did portray the culture and history of Japan and not only that but I presented the content in a way that my audience was able to understand as they answered the majority of questions correctly. With the questionnaire I did factor in human error, and that misreading the questions or having to leave the presentation early were key reasons why the remaining 5% was wrong.
In conclusion, the aim of my EPQ was to create a video in the style of a vlog using the YouTuber Casey Neistat for inspiration. I felt that overall my video was a success in seeing if creating a video in the style of a ‘vlog’ was possible for someone with no experience of filmmaking and if I could use techniques Neistat uses in my own video. I especially wanted to create a video where my audience felt as if they went on the journey to Japan with me, something Casey Neistat conveys clearly in his vlogs. I feel I achieved this aim with the clips I recorded where I explained the activities I was participating in and how the vlog highlighted the Japanese culture. I also used the vlog to portray the culture and history of Japan to my audience. From having analysed the data retrieved from my questionnaire it can be concluded that in conveying the history and culture of Japan I was successful, this was a result of the majority of the questions about Japanese culture having been answered correctly. For improvement on a video next time I came to the realisation that I missed areas of the culture that I would have wanted to expand on, such as the Geisha girls, Japanese food and Hiroshima are areas I would have liked to develop further. With a restricted amount of footage, I couldn’t elaborate on these areas in depth and this would be something I would focus on next time. However, overall the selected areas I chose to develop further did highlight the culture of Japan and I had enough areas to make my video interesting to my audience. Overall, I developed a video in the style of a vlog that presented my journey in Japan experiencing first-hand the brief overview of the culture and history of Japan.