From Virtual Drives to Trails-in-a-Minute

When I got my first, personal GoPro one of the first videos I shot with it was a drive through Northern California's Avenue of the Giants. Now I've been cutting together personal travel videos for a long time now, but when I sat down to edit the Giants drive down... I just couldn't do it. Driving through the redwoods was just too cool to condense. So on our 20mbps home internet connection I decided to upload all 38 minutes of the 1080i drive.

As the upload slowly progressed Marieta asked "Who's gonna watch 35 minutes of us driving?" Well as of this post the answer is more than 10,000 people.

Click to watch the video YouTube.
While Marieta is still baffled about the success of this video, I get it. If you want to experience a place you're hoping to visit or relive a personal favorite; a polished cut-down video doesn't do it. Videos like this uncut drive offer unfiltered access. So following this experience I've looked for similar opportunities to GoPro or Osmo for virtual recreation. My favorite being a 2017 hike up Acadia National Park's famous Bee Hive Trail. Not only was that Bee Hive hike awesome and now I can relive it until the day I die, but examining the YouTube comments it seems others appreciate it quite a bit as well.

Which brings us to Trail-in-a-Minute. Following my Bee Hive hike I knew I had to work the virtual hike idea into my day job; producing segments for Iowa Outdoors (IAO) on Iowa Public Television. Broadcasting a 38 minute drive or 45 minute hike on a 28-minute show is impossible and I fear would anger quite a few people... but couldn't the same "virtual hike" idea be replicated in short-form? So I approached my supervisor with the Trail-in-a-Minute concept of first-person hikes, bikes, and paddles around the state. Seeings as we were planning to launch "Iowa Outdoors" branded social media pages; the quick cut, POV aesthetic of the project seemed perfect.

And if the response to the first installment is any indication, the Virtual Hike model is still a winner.

Roughly 36 hours after its release IAO's first Trail-in-a-minute has 15K views and 289 shares. That may not seem like much but for public television, non-advertised, new properties... that's awesome! Shares are my favorite metric as it shows someone note only watched and enjoyed your content, but wants others to experience it as well. I am so stoked for this feature to continue. The Trout Run Trail feature is fine, but there are a few I am REALLY excited to release and see how people react.

Funny how a whim has turned into an exciting project that helps me pay the mortgage and feed my family. I'm not sure if this is the lesson but it's at least of part of it: We are curious creatures and want to embrace the positive, celebratory elements of our lives. Hopefully the steam this first clip has generated carries over and IAO viewers get jazzed to head outdoors and check out these cool hikes, bikers, and paddles.


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