Video production

Thinking of using video to tell a story? Videos are an excellent way to evoke emotion and create empathy, and even short videos require investing significant time and technical expertise to ensure a quality production. It takes time to plan, shoot and edit a quality video, so you should start planning your video project two or three months ahead. 

Before you decide to create a video project yourself, consider whether your project could be created in partnership with another campus department. We have three groups on campus that produce videos: marketing and communications, IT Media Services and the Center for Faculty Excellence (CAFE). Due to the increased demand (and limited staffing) for videos, the three groups use the same intake form. Once received, the three offices discuss where the requested project best fits in terms of workload and purpose. Once decided, the appropriate department will contact the person making the request to see how we can best proceed.

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Before you pick up a video camera or cell phone, there are a few things you can do to save time. It’s critical to know the story you’re trying to convey. What’s the theme and key messages you want to articulate? How should your audience feel watching the video and what information should they take away?

  • Location. Know ahead of time what environment you plan to film in. Will you be shooting inside or outside? What does the lighting in the space look like? For best results, you should select locations that are well-lit with natural sunlight or plenty of indoor lighting. Consider the audio of the space. Street sounds, fans and other people can all provide background noise that’s distracting to your viewers. 
  • People. Will your video be narrated by a voice over? Will you interview people and use their answers, or will you script what you want them to say? Unless the video is on Facebook Live or another similar platform, you will have the opportunity to coach individuals on their responses so the messages are clearly communicated.
  • Audio. Whenever possible, audio should be captured using a separate microphone to ensure quality. It’s also a good idea to mic your subjects when you shoot video that will be shown on the screen as the narrator speaks so you can pick up natural sounds. Always monitor your audio through headphones so you can be sure your audience will be able to hear and understand your subject.
  • Length. YouTube analytics have shown viewers will only watch a video for 1-2 minutes unless it contains particularly compelling images or sound bites. Keep that in mind as you develop a storyboard for your video. This will help you develop a preliminary list of shots you want to get and help you stay focused on key messages.
  • Format. Know how you plan to distribute the video. In general, you should shoot everything in 16x9 widescreen aspect ratio and in either 720p or 1080p resolution. If you are using the camera on your smartphone to shoot video, turn the phone to shoot in a horizontal format, not vertical or “portrait.

 

Once you have a plan for your video, you’re ready to begin the production process! A key rule to keep in mind is to “show, don’t tell.” Keep your message simple and concise, and be sure you have strong visual elements. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • A-roll. This is the footage you’ll gather from your subject interviews. During these tapings, do your best to make your subjects feel comfortable. (A pre-interview, where you go over the kinds of questions you plan to ask, often helps improve this process.) Two people are helpful for this portion of the process: one person to run the camera and capture audio, and the other person to conduct the interview.When framing up your interview subject in the camera’s viewfinder, place the subject either in the left or right third of the screen. The interviewer should stand on the opposite side of the camera and have the subject face them while they are speaking. Unless the subject is narrating the video, avoid having the person talk straight into the camera because it can be uncomfortable to watch.
  • B-roll. B-roll refers to the footage you’ll gather to demonstrate what your subject talks about, whether it’s research or student life. As you conduct the interview, or as the narration is developed, it’s important to think about what type of B-roll would best provide visual support of what’s being communicated through the audio.
  • Set camera white balance. Make sure you show your camera what “true white” is when you change shooting locations so there isn’t a blue or yellow hue to the footage. Consult your equipment manual for customized steps, but in general, to set the white balance manually:
    • Turn off the automatic white balance feature and set it to manual.
    • Point your video camera at a white piece of paper or another white object placed in the same light as the subject. 
    • Zoom in until most of the frame is covered and set the exposure and focus.
    • Press the white balance button.
    • Repeat the process whenever there is a change in lighting conditions.
  • Use restraint. Be cognizant of how you move the camera. Use natural camera angles, like filming at the eye level of the subject to give the audience a familiar viewpoint, and avoid excessive zooming while shooting your video. Look for opportunities to shoot a variety of types of shots (wide or establishing shots, medium, close, extreme close) so that you have options during the editing process.
  • Get permission. Be sure to have all interview subjects sign a video release. If your video features children under 18, you need to get written permission from parents or guardians. 
  • Get the names and pronunciations correct. Do not refer to the university as “MST, MS&T, MoS&T, etc…” Have those talking in the video say “S&T” or “Missouri S&T.” The “Havener” Center is pronounced ‘heyv-nur center.’ In addition, Kummer is pronounced 'come-ur.'

In general, you don’t want to overdo effects within one video. What looks cool the first time might not look so cool the fifth time we see it in a video. 

  • Music. If you are using music in your video, make sure it is not copyrighted and you have written permission to use it. Sites like YouTube will delete your video or audio tracks, and repeated violations may result in your department account being deleted entirely. As of 2021, here are some royalty-free music sites: 
  • Editing. Start with an establishing shot that introduces the place and people who are the focus of your video so the audience has that information right away. Each video clip should be at least a few seconds long so the audience can see what is happening and so the video is cohesive.
  • Video frame grab with student and closed captioning example
    Captioning
    . In order to comply with federal accessibility requirements, all videos must include Closed Captions so they are accessible for the hearing-impared viewer. Be sure to allocate time for this process or use a service to complete this task.

  • Video frame grab with lower third example
    Lower third
    . Text that appears on the screen with key information is known as a lower third. It’s commonly used for the name and title of a speaker shown on screen.
  • Quality. Be sure that any videos you plan to upload are of good quality. Proofread for proper grammar, accuracy and spelling if you include any text in the video.
  • Title. Every video should have a concise title and short description.

Whether you plan to post to your website or social media sites like YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, there are a few questions worth answering.

  • What communications goals will social media help you accomplish that other media, such as a website or a flyer, couldn’t?
  • How will this video help meet the goals of your website or social media channels?
  • What content do you want to have contributed on a regular basis to that media?
  • Which of the social media platforms available to you will best help you fulfill your goals for reaching your key audiences in an efficient way?

Need help embedding a YouTube video into your website? Watch our tutorial.

 

Social media considerations

YouTube

 In general, only content that is likely to appeal to a broad, global audience will be posted on the university’s primary YouTube channel.

Facebook

Although there is no limitation to the length of video you can post, consider keeping your videos short (2 minutes or less).

Twitter

Videos on Twitter must be 2 minutes and 20 seconds or less. Consider limiting your videos to just the highlights, and keep to 30 seconds or less as Twitter viewers tend to watch for shorter periods of time. You can upload videos up to 15 MB (sync) / 512 MB (async) within the length limits.

Instagram

Instagram has a 1-minute video limit, and square videos perform better than the standard 1920 pixels x 1080 pixels. Although videos can be longer on IGTV, keep the most important information in the first 60 seconds as many viewers will not continue to watch after transitioning to IGTVInstagram Stories offer an alternative method for distribution, and videos are broken into 15-second cuts. If you plan to distribute through Instagram Stories, shoot your video vertical (1080 x 1920).