Thursday, January 28, 2016

"...there is no greater pleasure in the world other than seeing, enjoying and experiencing new places and cultures on our beautiful planet..."

COOK ISLANDS, the magnificent Muri Beach at Rarotonga (Pacific Ocean)

Once you get into YouTube, I mean SERIOUSLY get into it, you make some discoveries and one I made early on was that pursuing series of videos, as opposed to singleton offerings, is what worked for me best. Since, that 'ah ha', I've followed a number of these series and Vic Stefanu's travel documentaries is one that I've enjoyed a great deal. By the way, if you 'click' on the name of a video's producer, which appears directly under the video player, you are taken to the 'home area' of his 'channel'

In the case of Vic's channel, I came across the following on 1/28/2016:

16,414 subscribers • 13,378,795 views
Joined Dec 16, 2010

A warm WELCOME to my channel dedicated to one of the greatest pleasures one can experience in life – travelling around our beautiful world. I try to record every interesting place that I visit with emphasis on cultural events, historic places, any location where nature is spectacularly displayed, locations with
art and interesting science exhibited, and, whatever else comes along the way. Enjoy my channel and drop me a message if  you see something that you find enjoyable, exciting or interesting, I will reply to you at Remember: there is no greater pleasure in the world other than seeing, enjoying and experiencing new places and cultures on our beautiful planet... Finally, no one ever regretted spending his/her money on traveling .........  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!!!!!!!

 He provides an email address in there and I actually was moved to contact Vic once. I wanted to congratulate him on having posted such interesting and entertaining videos. And, as my admiration had led to curiosity, I requested that he give some information about himself, I mean his original nationality, how he manages to finance his wide-flung, and exotic travels, and what the overarching purpose of all his traveling is. He actually did respond to me, above all thanking me for watching his videos, and although (as I recall) he  did state that my requests were reasonable, I haven't come across any more personal info about him yet. And actually, I'm fine with that. His job is to travel and produce these videos and my job is simply to watch them and be moved by what I see. That's actually a very good arrangement.

What do I like so much about Vic's videos? I've always been a keen appreciator of travel documentaries, having faithfully consumed all of the National Geographic specials, and their kin on broadcast TV. I especially loved the Globe Trekker series and the Michael Palin’s Palin's Travels  series, which I found on PBS. When cable TV became available, I discovered some fresher alternatives, the shows of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, to name a couple of the most successful. Interesting to me that as the size of the target audience, and consequently, the budget available to address it, shrank, the format of the travel shows loosened up. Or so it seemed to me. What I loved about Bourdain and his imitators is that his show had less of that look and feel of a big budget production, written by a team of writers and narrated by a world class voice-over star. The photography, while wonderful at times (especially the Bourdain show) still didn't have that look that I associate with extremely expensive equipment and large teams of "cinematographers". Overall, the look and feel of these very well produced shows, at least approached something I'd describe as 'just a real guy, showing other real guys some really interesting places and the things that go on there.’

Vic's videos, and those of many other 'guys' like him, self styled travel adventurers who document their journeys, push this genre even further, giving us a view of a guy who really is just a guy, as he goes to some places and records what he sees there in an even more casual manner. What's left behind is the music track in the background, the artful editing 'cuts' and without them the quick shift and face paced continuity wizardry, the aerial and underwater fish-eye perspective shots that only high maintenance Directors of Photography can provide, etc. What we are left with is something - even though no doubt, these low rent, one man band producers try to bring some craft to their offerings, too - that is infinitely simpler, more direct, more spontaneous, and more authentic to what this genre  purports to provide in the first place, the real experience of travel.

In this particular video we see Vic, as always, welcoming us and thanking us for watching his videos.  This time he is in the Cook Islands. Now that's a place that appeals strongly, conforming to theout of reach tropical paradise ideal of a destination, and one that, even though I am pretty well traveled myself, I am not likely to ever get around to visiting personally. He does a great job of bringing us along with him. The production problems, like the noise of the strong wind rustling the microphone's surface, and the bits of shakiness to his handheld camera simply add to the authenticity, making these videos seem
all the more like "the real deal." I especially like that at times in his videos he simply lets the camera run when trained on something like an empty beach with no action, at all, happening other than the lapping of the waves against the pristine white sand. Something the big guys would never do, but actually the minimalist sort of thing that resonates strongly. Thanks, Vic, and the many other travel video posters who offer travel experiences like this. Good stuff!

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