Paul Wex traveled through Sri Lanka with friends and captured the country in all its many forms.
Where are you from?
I am from Graz, Austria.
What do you shoot and how long have you been shooting for?
I began shooting video 6 years ago, mostly just doing personal projects for fun. I tend not to stick with a specific style or genre, but I began focused on personal projects so I could learn more about the process and improve.
What inspires you about shooting video?
I find the most inspiration when I see people in beautiful places.
Having the opportunity to communicate my personal view and the emotions that come from visiting a foreign place and meeting new people is something that motivates me to continue to learn more about shooting video.
What is your favorite part about traveling and experiencing new cultures?
I really like that every second captured in video is unique. Once the scene has been shot, there is no time to edit that exact moment. The moments captured in video have never occurred in exactly that way before – they haven’t existed until that second. And, they can’t be reproduced in that exact way again.
How long were you in Sri Lanka for and what was your itinerary?
My trip to Sri Lanka was about three weeks and was as simple as exploring as much of the island as possible with four friends.
What was your main reason for going to Sri Lanka? What about this destination inspired you to make this video?
That was also a fairly straightforward decision. We wanted to explore a tropical place with a strong spiritual side.
I traveled in India a few years ago and I was taken with the culture and lifestyle. I was wanted to explore other areas of the country – more beach destinations – but wasn’t able to do that. However, Sri Lanka did not disappoint in that area!
What recurring challenges did you face while traveling while capturing the things you saw?
I was hoping to get some good footage of elephants. They’re wonderful, but can be quite dangerous if you come too close.
They are very sensitive and can become scared quickly. I wanted to avoid them becoming aggressive and so I was very careful. As a result of my fear, I wasn’t able to get the shots I had hoped for.
During the trip, did you have an inspirational moment you captured on film? (timestamp and story behind it?)
Absolutely. At around 8pm, I was in Bandarawela. Outside it was dusk and my girlfriend, Isabella, was standing at the open window of our hotel listening the sounds of the town. The sound of the muezzin, juxtaposed with the traffic horns, along with the tropical sweet smell was a perfect combination of Sri Lankan daily life. This was a moment of pure inspiration for me.
What were some of your favorite locations?
The raw spirituality of the temples in the north were truly inspiring. They really reminded me of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, my favorite place I ever had been.
I also really enjoyed National Park Yala. The huge swaths of untouched land, the wild elephants and imagining the island’s nature thousands of years ago was wonderful.
Describe one of the most awe-inspiring and memorable experiences you had there?
We visited a local fish market very early in the morning, which was exactly the type of experience I love to have when traveling. While it’s not as “thrilling” as bungee jumping might be, it’s one of those activities that personally enriches a traveler. Watching the locals and the fisherman come together in that atmosphere is something I had never seen before.
What was it like interacting and working with locals while you were there? Describe a memorable experience you had with them. Any tips or suggestions to get the best shots?
The local population is very friendly.
A great experience was a Buddha ceremony at a temple in the north. While we watched from a distance, a female monk came over and encouraged us to get closer to the celebration. She helped us move through the crowd and explained all the background information we needed to appreciate the moment.
What was the one of the most surprising things you learned about the country while you were there?
Sri Lanka is certainly different than India. Much more different than I imagined it would be. The air is very clear and the pollution is minimal. It was interesting to find that four major religions live peacefully side-by-side.
How did this specific trip differ from your other travels?
Because the island is small, we were able to see a great deal of it in a shorter amount of time than other places I have visited.
I’ve traveled through a lot of Asian countries and Sri Lanka is one of the few where the infrastructure is so good that traveling is quite easy and convenient.
What type of gear did you use to capture the video (video, audio, stills etc)
I used a Canon 5D MKIII, shooting H.264 with a Zacuto Z-Finder and one vintage OM Zuiko 35mm/2.8 lens. Audio recording was through the camera mic only.
Do you have any tips for getting the type of footage you got shooting locals, landscapes, time lapses?
Yes, it’s important to me that those who give their time to be in the footage can see the video. I think it shows respect and acts as a sign of gratitude.
For me its always important to exclude elements that don’t fit into the overall aesthetic. For example, an crumbling temple wouldn’t provide the same feel if a modern sports car were driving through the footage.
When on location and shooting, do you have a specific narrative in mind you want to capture or do you just go with the flow and shoot as much as possible?
If I’m shooting something that has a scheduled process, I always try to get at least one nice shot of each stage. This helps me to create a narrative later. But, normally I just go with the flow, capturing the best I can.
What makes a good travel video in your opinion?
It’s always the interaction between the visuals and audio. If the music score doesn’t fit the visuals, then it can really change something beautiful. But, the perfect music choice can help even faulty footage feel stunning.
I also think that local acoustic ambience and sound effects can enhance a travel video. If these sounds support the emotional aspect, it can give the whole clip a natural flow.
After coming back from a trip with tons of footage, what is your process with piecing it all together and telling a story?
I analyze the footage, looking for my favorite visuals and the ones that don’t resonate as much.
First, I tinker with all the editing possibilities by playing around with the material. During this process, I get familiar with all the material and automatically begin to feel what optical style fits. I sort the first narrative groups and also get the first ideas for the intro.
I always produce the music myself and think about what would fit when I’m looking though the footage. I switch a lot between music production and video during the whole editing process.
What did you use to edit all your footage?
I used Final Cut Pro X. For the slow motion clip in the water at the beginning of the film, I used Twixtor. The color grading was done with the Koji Advanced PlugIn.
What were you hoping to capture after editing your final cut of this video?
I hope to share my adventures with as many people as possible!