Video Comes to AAC

Video Coming Soon

We are, as we shared a month ago, out cruising for the summer, but it’s not all lotus eating. Although we have been publishing a little less than normal, we are still hard at work for AAC and our members.

This year our big effort has been an assault on the near vertical learning curve required to produce even semi-decent video.

We decided to take this on based on the success of last year’s efforts, particularly the way making a short video enabled us to quickly communicate how simple a particular task can be made, given the right set-up, gear and technique.

For example, when I originally wrote about our multiple-tether system, the near universal reaction to my written description was “way too complicated”. But when we published a short video showing that said system was actually faster and easier to use than most any alternative, that objection magically went away.

We will not be attempting full length how-to or “look how beautiful this destination is” videos; both because there are other people way better qualified in those genres than us, and because we still think that our traditional focus on clear writing and good still photography is the way for us to deliver the most value to our members.

Having said that, what we will be doing is adding short video segments to chapters and posts to illustrate specific points that lend themselves to video explanation.

We still have a lot to learn and need to buy a bit more gear—mainly specialized mounts to allow us to better place our three video-capable cameras around the boat to provide multiple views of the same operation—to get our videos to the standard we would like them to be.

However, we are making progress, as you can see from the fun little trailer below. (Don’t panic about the “Hollywood” vibe, just me having a bit of fun in iMovie, the actual videos themselves will be more “serious”.)

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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23 comments … add one
  • Richard s (s/v lakota) Aug 31, 2015, 6:50 am

    impressive and exciting

    richard s. (hunckered down in Tampa bay)

  • Richard Dykiel Aug 31, 2015, 6:52 am

    Yay can’t wait. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so a video must be worth 10,000 words at least. I hope the musical choices don’t become a discussion topic in itself 🙂

  • Whitall Stokes Aug 31, 2015, 9:28 am

    There’s an old line that video is really about the audio.
    That music is killing me.
    Looking forward to the video about jybing an asymmetrical spinnaker on a pole during a squall.

    • John Aug 31, 2015, 12:08 pm

      Hi Whitall,

      Sorry about the music. Does anyone know of a good source of decent music that can be licence relatively inexpensively for videos?

      And you will never see said jibing video here. On a short handed boat at sea an asymmetrical should be snuffed and dowsed long before the squall arrives. Even for a full on racing crew jibing an asymmetric in big breeze is a challenge.

      • Whitall Stokes Aug 31, 2015, 3:04 pm

        The gybing video request was tongue in cheek, of course…

        You might try SoundCloud. When I used them the cost was quite reasonable, although I’m unsure of your copyright requirements. It was helpful as I could search for instrumental music by many tags such as tempo or mood.

        • RobertB Sep 1, 2015, 10:05 pm

          John – I’ll second SoundCloud. There is a lot of interesting music from independents trying to eek out a living. As others have mentioned, it’s a time consuming task to find the right music for video work….but it’s also a kind of fun discovery time. I find the interface and search to be easy and I often find all sorts of cool music in every genre imaginable. I personally like supporting the independents, though you can find well known artists there as well. Good luck!


      • Matt Boney Sep 1, 2015, 5:08 am

        It’s not so much the choice of music, but when and where to use music in the first place, Here in the UK there are lots do CDs that can be bought cheaply with unlimited licences for video production.

        I’m ex BBC TV and an ex freelance Director of broadcast and promotional videos. So let me offer some advice.
        DON’T use music all the time – let the natural sounds of fluffy sails and wind help tell the story.
        DON’T try and use the camera microphone when you are more than three feet from the subject.
        Use a Voiceover to tell the story – this can be perfectly scripted during the edit. If you want to talk on camera keep very close, or get a radio microphone, but presenting live on camera is a difficult skill to learn.
        Shoot twenty times as much footage as you think you’ll need – the programme is made during the edit! Keep the shots short. It’s amazing how much information can be quickly absorbed from video images, watch any commercial and average length of each shot is 2.5 seconds. Many shots are less than 20 frames each.

        The quality of video cameras now is brilliant, but concentrate more on the sound.

        Hope this helps.

        • John Sep 1, 2015, 8:10 am

          Hi Matt,

          Great stuff, thanks very much for taking the time. Voice over is next on my list of things to learn to do.

  • Marc Dacey Aug 31, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Check this out, John:

    As a musician and writer/editor myself, I’m rather sensitive on the point of copyright and fair usage, and it cheers me to see that you are prepared to license the background music for your videos. I would suggest your usage is both limited and classical, as it seems to suit sailing more than outtakes from “Miami Vice: The CD” and is, due to the age and royalty status, more affordable in many cases.

  • John Aug 31, 2015, 3:23 pm

    Hi All,

    Several people have mentioned both here and on FB and UT that my music choices suck…and they are right. First off, it’s not my strong suit, and second, taking tons of time to become a video background music expert or even learn a lot about it is something I just can’t afford to do since said time comes off creating content about offshore sailing, which is my primary job that you members are paying me to do.

    So, if any of you have specific suggestions with links to music that you think would work better and that can be properly licence at a fee we can afford, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

    • Richard Dykiel Aug 31, 2015, 3:44 pm

      Awww I didn’t mean to criticize your choice of music; the style might be better adapted to an action packed video of a regatta. If you want to convey that your techniques enhance safety and preserves the well being of the sailor maybe some classical? I’m partial to baroque music; but I must be in a minority.

      • John Aug 31, 2015, 4:25 pm

        Hi Richard,

        Sounds good, but where do I get it?

        • Richard Dykiel Aug 31, 2015, 4:56 pm

          Huh – can’t help you there 🙁 But I did a quick google search on “redistributable music”, for which google proposed “free redistributable music” and I saw some links that might be interesting but require study. I think your question must be a common problem for website developers so there should be material on line, or you might contact some other video-heavy website developers.

    • Daniel Aug 31, 2015, 6:24 pm

      One has always the option of muting the audio in Youtube and play their own music selection. I wouldn’t fret about it.

      • John Sep 1, 2015, 8:11 am

        Hi Daniel,

        Now that’s a comfort!

    • Fede Silva Aug 31, 2015, 8:42 pm

      Hi, John,

      Musopen seems to be a good resource for classical music. Terms are very liberal.

      I’ll take this opportunity to thank you and all team AAC for the excellent work you guys do here.


  • Eric Klem Aug 31, 2015, 9:25 pm

    Hi John,

    I am looking forward to the videos that you share. My wife actually got us a gopro this year which has been kind of fun. Prior to that, I have to admit that I have never owned a camera other than the crummy one on my phone. We are still figuring out how to use the gopro which seems to be remarkably forgiving but the biggest issue is that neither of us has yet taken the time to sit down and edit any video.


  • Richard Dykiel Sep 1, 2015, 10:30 am

    I asked my friend, CEO of, an e-commerce website using in-house video production and here is the answer from their video production manager (don’t hesitate to go click on the grommet, I’ll make no money but my friend will be happy 🙂

    “Hi Richard,
    All in all, finding great music for videos can be a time consuming process. There are some good tunes out there but they are hidden amongst many bad, corporate-sounding ones. The real challenge to finding the right music for your piece so having a firm understanding of the tone/mood/instrumental sound before beginning is going to be a big help. Below are some of the ones I use the most but google research for “Royalty Free Music” can point you to many others:
    Moby Gratis
    Partners In Rhyme
    free music loops
    Public Domain 4U

    Hope this helps. Let me know if I can help with anything else. Thanks.”

  • Lee Sep 1, 2015, 9:18 pm

    sample music & video
    consider: don’t have to mix voice with music simultaneously – narrate and then switch to music during procedure (if what you are instructing allows for that).

  • John Sep 2, 2015, 8:36 am

    Hi All,

    Thanks very much for all the great suggestions to make our videos better, and particularly the associated audio. I will certainly put some time into implementing everyones suggestions.

    One thing though, please don’t be disappointed if our videos remain, shall we say, a bit amateur. The point being that I only have so much time and so I must be very careful not to dive into the technology of video in a search for perfection to the point that I neglect my primary job: writing great content about offshore voyaging.

    Having said that, I have just completed another video, and tried to incorporate a lot of your suggested improvements.

    • Richard Dykiel Sep 2, 2015, 9:20 am

      I’ve been thinking about this; you’re doing this to convey useful technical info, not submit this to National Geographic. The video quality of your little demo snippet is good enough IMO. Trying to add music will be a distraction and a time sink. Do you consider putting explanations in subtitles instead? Might be more efficient and quicker than mixing a sound track in post-editing.

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