No longer is travel programming the sole territory of television and big budgets. A younger generation of filmmakers like Daniel Klein is producing Web travel series pretty much on their own, thanks largely to new digital cameras that are (relatively) small in size and price.
"The visuals you're able to get for the cost of the camera is stunning," Mr. Klein said.
Which is perfect for filming food -- the subject of the online videos he produces with his girlfriend, Mirra Fine, "The Perennial Plate." In its third season, the documentary series follows the couple to sustainable farms, seasonal markets and organic restaurants in countries like China, Morocco and Argentina.
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Klein on how you can shoot professional-quality videos while you travel.
Q. Do you need equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars to shoot like a pro?
A. No, the average traveler can totally make it happen with a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, which looks like any other still camera but has video capabilities. We use the Canon EOS Rebel T2i, about $700, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which is more high-end, about $3,500. DSLR cameras can film at 24 frames per second -- the standard for film stock -- so the image looks more like film, with colors that are vibrant, beautiful, as opposed to a soap opera. It's also smaller, so you can go anywhere. Having a camera that doesn't look "professional" is key to capturing an authentic experience. Most people don't even know you're taking video.
Q. What other equipment do you use?
A. One drawback of these cameras is their limited audio capabilities, so you have to have an external audio recorder. We use the Zoom H4N and then plug Sennheiser lavalier mics into it when we interview subjects. We also bring along a tripod and a shoulder brace to steady the camera.
We edit on Final Cut Pro X, which is slightly more user friendly, slightly less professional than the old Final Cut Pro, also much less expensive, about $300. Apple computers work with whatever the voltage is -- we've never had any trouble in any country.
Q. You've got all the gear. Now what?
A. Find a story that's visually appealing, beyond just being an interesting topic.
We once tried to do an episode on this nonprofit in Iowa that preserves heirloom seeds. Fascinating topic, but it didn't work visually; all you had were shots of refrigerators with seed packets. But when we did a similar seed-saving story in India, we had the visual backdrop of a beautiful organic farm, women in their traditional dress, and it really worked.
Q. How do you go about finding stories abroad?
A. English-language blogs are a great resource. That's how we met a woman in China's Yunnan province who uses her family's organic produce in her restaurant. She invited us to the countryside, where we made tofu with the soybeans her parents grew.
Q. What was the tofu like?
A. So much more delicious than any other tofu I ever had. The video shows how first you drink a cup of the warm soy milk while it's cooking. Then they put this limestone in it that sets the tofu, and it becomes kind of custardy, silky. You drink that too. Then they press it and fry it. It has an almost grassy flavor to it.
Q. So the video really captures the process of making it. Is that important?
A. Absolutely. Whatever you're filming, capturing actions is key. Food on your plate, for example, is one second of interesting content. It's that much more interesting if someone is plating that food, eating that food. The experience, the scene, the colors, the heat are all part of it.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.