We were tasked by Radiant Tours and Travels to create the ultimate Myanmar travel adventure film to promote their tour itinerary packages around the country, and we jumped at the chance!
We flew to and from Myanmar (also known as Burma)’s largest city of Yangon, and the itinerary designed for us included Shwedagon Pagoda, the ancient temples of Bagan, Ngwe Saung Beach, Mandalay, Inle Lake, the hilltop monastery at Popa Taung Kalat, Pindaya Buddha Caves, Golden Rock and the Giant Buddha and Pagoda at Bago. Other than these key must-see sites, this was one of those projects that couldn’t be planned in great detail beyond this as a lot depended on the weather and what we encountered along the way. This in fact turned out to be a good thing as quite a few elements used in the video were not planned (such as many of the drone shots and the elephant parade) and were simply chance encounters from the roadside.
We pitched the style for the video as being predominantly wide, immersive angles filmed on a manual gimbal where the camera would be constantly moving and exploring (you will notice there are almost no static shots in the film), with occasional close ups for details often filmed with a parallax movement. Occasionally we link together a wide and a close shot of a similar subject with some visual trickery we have been calling our ‘custom zoom transitions’ (created for each shot from scratch with Adobe After Effects for those nerdy enough to be interested).
Rather than group the locations together by chronological tour order or region, we suggested links could be instead be made based on themes and feelings. Therefore the montage is, in places, combining shots that are hundreds of miles apart to instead create a sensory experience of what it is like to visit Myanmar, rather than a geography lesson.
We start with a sweeping low shot of a crop field filmed on our trusty DJI Phantom 4 drone, which moves to an impressive golden spire rising above a lush green landscape. Flying through a river valley we arrive on the plains of Old Bagan, the misty temples looking mysterious in the beautiful sunset. The temples emerge into morning light, and we are off on our adventure! First-person shots follow of exploring the Pindaya Buddha Cave, traveling by boat down a river at Inle Lake, and witnessing the beginning of a parade using elephants. Next we head to bustling downtown Yangon, a humid maze of pigeons and monks on motorbikes. Travelling shots now link an Inle Lake boat race, a train leaving a station and monks crossing a bridge near Mandalay. Souvenir shops by the side of the road create colourful umbrellas and trinkets, and weavers weave material on their looms. A bustling cloth market is linked to a similar one selling fruit.
Next a temple sequence showcases holy sites, buddhas and pagodas as the music becomes more mysterious and the sound design includes flickering flames in the wind and a temple bell tolling. A lonely pagoda in a giant vista, a sea of flooded fields, leads us back into a faster pace for the ‘third act’. Here the pace picks up as we show friendly faces and food, tourists enjoying Ngwe Saung Beach, balloons at Bagan, and luxury accommodation at Pristine Lotus Hotel (Inle Lake) and Hotel Yadanarbon (Mandalay). Celebrations at Golden Rock bring us back towards Yangon via the war cemetery, and busy street time-lapses show the skyline and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Finally we finish with an aerial shot craning up as a car explores a winding road as the adventure continues.
Myanmar was a fascinating country to visit, and despite the recent political and military upheavals it remains a beautiful and mysterious land. We hope you enjoy the film.