European April: A Video Memoir

Traveling alone is, in many ways, a liberating adventure… but like anything, it’s got it’s challenges.  Being able to come and go as you please is a blessing, but what is the point of experiencing beautiful places if you without someone to share it with?

Encouraged by my L’Abri tutor and several friends, I took footage throughout my month-long journey aiming to make a video.  Doing so helped me through the loneliness that can come with solo travel by giving me a way to bring others into my adventures.  As I travelled, the thought of making this video really did help me during the rough days.  Instead of feeling sad and mopey about being alone, I was so focused on and excited about capturing my experiences in a creative way that negativity was driven from my mind.  The idea kept me going.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks processing and editing said footage and am THRILLED to share the final product.  It’s a bit long (around 5 minutes), but I’d love if you took some time to watch the whole thing.

Below is a bit of my creative process in constructing what you’ve (hopefully) just watched.

Creating something like this is a LOT of work.  The footage (5.6 hours total) took up almost all the space on my computer.  Before I could begin editing, I had to transfer it all to an external hard drive, then import it into my video editing software.

As far as editing goes, iMovie isn’t the most sophisticated software.  I much prefer Adobe Premier Pro, which I used in my Visual Journalism course in college.  However, iMovie came with my laptop and it’s easy to use… so I’m not really complaining.

After importing all the footage, I plunged in and pulled out the highlights–five second clips I hoped to use in the final cut.  This took a long time, but when it was done, I had narrowed my pool from 5+ hours to 25 minutes.

The audio was tricky because of all the different ideas bouncing in the back of my mind.  Not sure what would work best, I tried several approaches.  First, I went for the full-on narrative–writing a preliminary script in which I discuss aspects of my travels.  Although I liked this more personal take, it ended up being too cheesy and WAY longer than anything people would actually watch.  Next, I considered a collage approach, mixing pieces of songs and inspiring quotes together on Garage Band.  This also proved fruitless–the clips I had in mind just didn’t fit to achieve the story I wanted to tell.  I settled on a clean approach, Tolkien quote (and source of this blog’s name) at the beginning followed by a song.

My video’s track is “Alone” by the band Trampled by Turtles and, in many ways, it was a no brainer.  First, it’s fairly long–nearly five minutes, which gave me the perfect amount of time to work with.  Second, Trampled by Turtles is a Minnesota band and the song reminds me of home.  I feel like this anchors the far away places depicted in a starting and ending point.  Third, the song picks the story I wanted to convey.  It’s a sad song, which captures the loneliness of solo travel.  It’s got few lyrics, which allows the images to speak for themselves.  The music itself swells and builds as it goes along, taking one on a journey with a clear climax, which I took advantage of.

When putting the clips together;, I will admit that my thought process was not very strategic.  There were a few clips I knew where I wanted to go, but the rest I threw together.  I tried not to put clips from similar places next to each other, but I had so much footage from Scotland and Austria that it was inevitable.  I did enjoy crafting moments of togetherness throughout the piece–there are clips where you see friends of mine and the placement is deliberate.

If things come across the way I intended, the piece begins in seriousness and ends positively.  It opens with a calm, almost apprehensive expression and ends with me turning towards the camera and waving with a large smile.  In the climax of the song, although the music is lyrically bleak, I tried to convey an overwhelming sense of joy.  You see several of my favorite places mixed with clips of me being derpy and happy–dancing, spinning, twirling–exhilarated with the pleasure of being on a journey.

I hope that you enjoyed my project as much as I loved making it.  Videography is a vast new medium and I feel like I’m only dipping my toes into all it has to offer.  I’m finding that creating a video is a great deal like creative writing–you start with an idea of a story and, step by step, put the pieces together.  I look forward to experimenting and creating more stories as time goes on.

Thanks for watching!

5 thoughts on “European April: A Video Memoir

  1. brittabottle May 20, 2016 / 8:36 pm

    So beautiful, Amelia! You were able to see and do so much in the month you had, which is so cool. Solo travel can be very lonely, which is part of the reason I decided to meet up with my friend who lived in Europe, rather than go anywhere on my own. Still, it’s incredibly rewarding and beautiful at the same time. I’m incredibly proud of the one solo trip I took in Thailand, and that was only a few days. Very lovely video–definitely inspired some wanderlust within me.

  2. Nancy May 22, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    What a wonderful exciting adventure and your video is just perfect. I commend your bravery in taking on such an adventure on your own. I follow another blog you may like. It can be found at

    • Amelia May 22, 2016 / 5:54 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad that you enjoyed the video. It was so much fun to make. I actually follow that blog already–I love all her posts! 🙂

      • Nancy May 22, 2016 / 8:25 pm

        I knew she would be your kind of girl! I learn about so many different places through her blog.

      • Amelia May 22, 2016 / 9:27 pm

        I know! There are so many out of the way places I haven’t even heard of. It’s definitely fun to learn about.

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