The Vagabrothers, Marko and Alex Ayling, have spent the last few years building a successful YouTube channel featuring their travels to some of the world’s most exciting destinations while documenting what they encounter, as well as their own thoughts.
This year, the Vagabrothers ventured to Pushkar, in the center of India’s largest state: Rajasthan. There, Marko and Alex experienced the yearly Pushkar Camel Fair, and documented it in a 360º Virtual Reality video.
The Vagabrothers spoke with the Travel Video Awards about how they made the video, and how an ancient Inca treasure map got them into travel filmmaking.
How did you turn your passion for travel filmmaking into a career?
Vagabrothers: In 2010 I was a recent college graduate living in Spain teaching english. I always had the dream of being a travel television host, and through an interesting “heard it through the grapevine” twist of fate, was invited to join a documentary film expedition to the Llanganatis mountains in Ecuador to follow a 500+ year old treasure map in search of lost Inca gold. I was very excited to have the opportunity to be on camera, tell stories and develop my hosting credentials. Unfortunately the documentary was never made. That taught me the important lesson that no one is going to do the work for you, if you want to follow your dreams, then you need to commit 100%.
My high school buddy had just gotten a job at GoPro, which was very new, and offered to get me a Hero 1 at cost. I bought that and started filming myself surfing and traveling on weekends in the Basque Country in Spain, then I’d come home and learn editing after work on the weekdays. It was all pretty basic at first, but I dedicated time to understanding my camera, editing software and filmmaking techniques in my free time. I then saved up and bought my first DSLR a Canon Rebel T3i, once again I had to relearn a new camera, it’s functions, etc. I started vlogging, and joined forces with my brother who was working as a freelance travel writer. A few months later we stumbled upon a tweet about a 6 month all expenses paid travel film making contest called the “Biggest Baddest Bucket List” with a $50,000 cash prize. We made a short 3-minute film about San Sebastian, the city we were living in, and won the contest. The 6 month trip was a marathon at the pace of an all out sprint. It was crash course in travel filmmaking and social media, and upon completion, the company declared bankruptcy and didn’t pay us the full money promised. It was a lesson in the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. We buckled down, launched our own youtube channel, and used the skills developed on the trip and footage we shot to create new videos for our own channel. That was over five years ago now.
How do you approach developing VR videos like Pushkar Camel? What is your go to equipment for shooting in VR?
VB: That shoot was unique. We had been selected to participate in special Virtual Reality development program that Youtube created called the “VR Creator Lab”. We had access to renting some of the best Virtual Reality cameras available and had a mentorship program with some of the industry’s leading VR gurus. It was an eye-opening experience. VR is a difficult medium, the rules of thumb of tradition “framed” filmmaking do not apply. You essentially have to throw out a lot of the things you’ve learned and reimagine shots in 360 degrees. Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the wildest festivals in one of the most colorful and chaotic countries on earth, India. It was a serious challenge to shoot that film but in retrospect it was a wild adventure and we are super happy with how the final product came together. We shot that video on the Odyssey Rig, 16 Go Pros arranged facing outwards on a circular housing unit, then each camera gets “stitched” together with the others in post-production, creating a 6-8K circular image. It’s an expensive and time-consuming procedure we’d only recommend if you’re its a very important project and you have a big budget to pull it off. In my opinion, the best 360 camera available on the market that is accessible to the public now is the GoPro Fusion.