Virtual Europe Walking Tours - A Unique Travel Experience
In June of 1999, Kathi and I took a Globus tour of Italy - their
"Italian Mosaic." Before leaving for the trip, I borrowed a Steadicam
Jr. from a good friend in Los Angeles who is a film editor. I wanted to
use it with my home video camera to shoot better quality home movies
while on this "once in a lifetime" trip. The Steadicam Jr stabilizes
the camera and completely eliminates any shaking.
The 21-day (with two extensions) trip was
absolutely wonderful! The group of about 25 people on the tour all
meshed nicely and the food, the sights, the art, were fantastic. I shot
hours of video, some of it while actually walking down the streets of
Rome, Florence, Venice, and Naples. The Steadicam Jr produced smooth
shots that seemed to "float". And in Venice, I proposed to Kathi at
sunset in a gondola on the Grand Canal. We purhased our wedding rings
in the gold market of Florence.
Returning to the US, I viewed the video I had shot with the Steadicam
and quickly realized that it would be perfect for watching while
walking on our treadmill. A few tests confirmed my idea - the "virtual
walks" could give you the impression that you were actually "walking"
the streets of these beautiful European cities and could make the time
spent on the treadmill pass quickly.
Having recently retired from a career in teaching Television
Production, and having just celebrated our marriage, I proposed another
idea to my new wife: We would form a tv production company which would
purchase professional equipment and film "Treadmill Virtual Walks" of
European cities. We would then sell these virtual walks on the
Kathi immediately agreed and we got busy with the details. We formed a
corporation, researched equipment, purchased it, along with the rights
to music suitable for accompanying these walks.
In addition to the "virtual walks" which we would shoot with Steadicam
equipment, we also decided to take a tripod and shoot more traditional
travel video footage. We planned on editing this footage into our
"Armchair Travel Videos" which, accompanied by classical music, we
would also sell on the Internet. Our objective was to come back from a
2 week shoot in a European city with two totally different types of
footage, which could then be edited into two totally different types of
We set off to Venice on our first professional shoot in April of
2001. We stayed in the Marconi Hotel overlooking the Rialto Bridge and
the Grand Canal. We had excellent weather and worked hard. Awake and on
the street by 7 AM each morning, we shot treadmill walks while the
streets were empty and then returned to our hotel for breakfast. After
breakfast, we returned to the streets for more shooting. We shot most
days until well into the night. Venice is absolutely incredible! If
you've never been to Venice, you must go. You'll never regret it.
Returning home after 10 long days of shooting in Venice, we rested for
one month. In June we left for 2 weeks of filming in London. I promised
Kathi we wouldn't work so hard in London, that any rain days would be
"days off" for us.
It didn't rain a single day while we were in London. We filmed virtual
walks in Hyde Park, along the canal in Little Venice, and on the
Hampstead Heath, among others. At the end of two weeks shooting, we
We got on the plane and flew directly to Rome for two more weeks of
filming! And it didn't rain a single day in Rome! We filmed virtual
walks along the Via Veneto, the Appian Way outside Rome, and a walk in
Pincio Gardens. At the end of a month of filming we returned to the US
vowing never to commit to such an exhausting schedule again.
Soon after we returned from Rome, I received a call from my film editor
friend in Los Angeles. He was editing Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's
feature "When In Rome" and needed some night scenes of Rome. Did I
have any night time scenes which they could purchase?
Weeks later they did purchase a number of my night scenes and used them
in the movie. And that's how we got into the business of selling stock
footage of Rome, Venice, and London to television networks and
In October of 2003, we returned to London. This time we concentrated on
filming in the villages outside of London. We filmed virtual walks in
the Darent River Valley, in Otford, in Canterbury, in Salisbury, and
some in London, along with the usual tripod shots.
Today we are busy selling our Treadmill Virtual Walks of Venice,
Rome, and London on Ebay and on our own websites:
www.treadmillwalks.com, www.fitnesswalks.com, and
In addition, we sell European stock footage of Rome, Venice, and London
on our websites: www.europeanstockfootage.com and
www.romestockfootage.com. Our footage has been used in commercials and
documentaries on the History Channel and the new ABC TV series, "Life
of Luxury" starring George Hamilton.
In May of 2005 we will return to Italy for a three week shoot. This
time we'll be shooting High Definition (HD) stock footage of Rome, the
Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and the Isle of Capri. We will sell this HD
stock footage on our newest website: www.hdeuropeanstockfootage.com.
Life is good.
About the Author: My wife Kathi and I own a video production company
that focuses on European travel. In addition to our Virtual Walks
Series, we also shoot stock footage of Rome, Venice, and London which
we sell to television networks and production houses around the world.
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