Dae Mellencamp, the president of Vimeo, has seen it all and knows what works and doesn’t in travel videos. If the brand’s marketing folks tend to be control freaks when it comes to trying to dictate every little detail in a travel video, the results are likely to be a bust. At least that’s the way that Mellencamp sees it.
On the other hand, the smartest brands hire filmmakers who are extremely talented and creative, and just let them do their thing. That’s often a winning formula, Mellencamp says.
Mellencamp, who has worked at Vimeo since 2009, also has a strong take on the influence of GoPro and Instagram’s new HyperLapse feature. Mellencamp will discuss these and other issues at the Skift Global Forum in New York City on October 9.
Meanwhile, Mellencamp discusses trends in travel video below:
Skift: What is the good, bad and ugly that you see in travel video these days, and what trends do you see emerging?
Dae Mellencamp: Travel is a massive category on Vimeo and we’ve seen many trends come and go around travel videos. The best videos are ones that share a personal story and transport viewers to a place by showing what it’s really like and giving a fresh, authentic perspective. Anything that feels too choreographed or stage-managed suffers by comparison.
In terms of trends, videos shot with a GoPro camera continue to serve up a massive amount of the travel videos we see on our platform. Is there anything left that someone, somewhere hasn’t done with a camera strapped to their head? This has obviously been especially huge for sports travel, skiing, snowboarding, etc., and now that the camera has been in the market for some time, the overall quality of GoPro videos continues to get better and better.
Another trend we are seeing is the proliferation of Hyperlapse videos, a more recent evolution of time lapse, similarly shot but with much more movement, so you get stunning journeys around a city or landscape. With the new Hyperlapse app from Instagram, we expect to see an explosion there as more people try out the technique. Similar to GoPro videos in their infancy, these videos will be less polished perhaps, but it’s always fun to see the barriers to a new technology dropping so that more people can get involved.
Skift: Are these trends similar or different from trends you see about video in other sectors, and what is the significance?
Mellencamp: The trends are similar in that many of them are technique-based, and obviously people use the same techniques in other types of video content. But travel is pretty special because it inspires people, especially filmmakers, and the idea of documenting a journey or capturing the spirit of a place is such a wonderful goal. Add to that the fact that filmmakers are away from clients, relaxed and/or enjoying themselves on most of these trips, and you get creators who are really into what they’re doing. You can always tell when someone’s enjoyed making something — it shows on the screen. I think that’s why some of these travel videos do so well and spark so many trends. The filmmakers have been in a very inspiring space mentally (and physically of course) while they’re working on these films. It can really lift new techniques to the next level.
Skift: Can you point to an example of a travel video that knocks your socks off, and perhaps one from a major brand that has you wondering how did this ever get published?
Mellencamp: This is Shanghai and Barcelona from Rob Whitworth are two of the most impressive time lapse travel videos we’ve seen. His work is ridiculously slick and always does extremely well. (Barcelona is more recent and was funded by the Catalan Tourism Board.)
Also Love Japan was featured in Staff Picks a month ago and it’s the perfect example of the very personal films we get on Vimeo — the filmmaker documented a trip around Japan with his girlfriend. It’s a great example of the super-polished and yet deeply personal type of video we love. It’ll make you want to book a ticket to Tokyo (or at least order sushi for dinner).
While there are definitely underwhelming brand videos out there, I have to say we don’t pay much attention to work we don’t like. When you look at the kinds of videos we’ve just mentioned, anything too scripted or impersonal just falls flat. It’s marketing committees and cheesy voiceover artists versus genuine human experience. Most viewers can smell the difference a mile away.
Skift: Are travel brands being creative enough in their video efforts, and what do you think might be holding them back?
Mellencamp: We love to see brands trusting good filmmakers to go and find their own stories to tell, rather than following a script prescribed by the brand. Tourism Malaysia is a great example of the former. We worked with them on a project where we commissioned five filmmakers, arming each with a specific budget and very open brief (example: ‘food’, ‘culture’, ‘water sports’) to shoot two films. We Were Wanderers On A Prehistoric Earth was one of the resulting videos from the project that was screened at various festivals and the filmmaker later won a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for best short film.
In terms of what holds a brand back, the notion of giving up control understandably could make brands feel nervous but honestly, we think it’s the best way to get great work out of filmmakers. If you hire someone brilliant, give them the freedom to them do what they do best and you’ll get great results.
Skift: What are some of the most important best practices you see as they pertain to creativity and travel video?
Mellencamp: For brands it’s putting out a brief to filmmakers that doesn’t limit them, but empowers them to do what they do best. MOVE is great example of this. When we first saw it we didn’t even realize it was funded by a brand (STA Travel), we just thought it was a really cool travel video. There’s no obvious branding, but clearly watching it would give anyone the travel bug. The video remains one of our most popular videos on the platform to-date.