Getting Started with Video Production

Shooting video and uploading it to share on the web has become increasingly simple. With the camera quality of our smartphones these days we can all shoot high res, clear, vivid videos. But, although it is very easy to create and share videos, creating videos that your audience will actually watch in its entirety is very difficult. So here are a few tips to get you on the path to creating video worth watching!

Camera

Finding the right camera can be a difficult task especially when you are searching through the hundreds upon hundreds of different brands and models. Depending upon your budget and need, you may be fine recording using your cell phone or iPad.

Tripod

Once you’ve found your camera, one of the most necessary and affordable accessories for any type of camera will be a tripod. Please, if you are planning to shoot some videos, use a tripod. I know many people shoot handheld videos, and they can look really nice when done right and with the right type of camcorder but, for most people holding their cellphone, their video’s going to turn out shaky and won’t look the best. You can even find camera mounts for your phone or iPad.

Microphone

The microphones that are built inside most cameras usually pick up a lot of surrounding noise. It might benefit you to purchase a microphone and a boom pole if you plan to shoot video with dialogue. The type of camera you have will likely lead you towards which microphone you purchase.

Preproduction: Script It and Plan It

Script

Videos start with an idea, such as, “Let’s take the Newbery Award winning novel, Ramona and Her Father, and turn it into a short film, with a wrestling theme!!!” First step to making any preplanned video is to get a script together. A script will include character descriptions, scene descriptions and dialogue. Scripts take some time and creativity but are the basis of any good video, if you’re awesome at improvising, then forget all of this, just turn the camera on and go. Once you have a completed script, it’s not time to film it just yet, a couple more steps will make your life much simpler.

Storyboard

Storyboarding is a great way to plan out your shots. These are usually hand drawn pictures that represent what the shot is supposed to look like on camera, allowing you to easily visualize the scene and save you time when you’re ready to set up the camera. Templates for storyboards can be found online or even created fairly quickly in a word document program.

Shot List

Mark your script and create a shot list. A shot list is a simple document you can create that lists all of the shots you want to capture on camera so you can easily check them off and make sure you’re not missing anything during filming. Videos are often shot out of sequence and this helps to ease confusion when you think you forgot to capture something. It is also helpful to number your shots during this step. Although in your mind you may want to read the script and record everything in that order, don’t. What if all of your characters are in costume in scene 1 and scene 4? Save yourself some time setting up and shoot scene 4 right after scene 1! Same thing with locations, shoot everything that’s in the location you’re at now. Don’t worry about the order- that will all be fixed with the magic of editing.

Production

Filming

Make sure you have the proper battery power and plenty of storage. Have a backup SD card and fully-charged battery if possible and bring them with you.

Make sure you’ve adjusted your camera to all of the correct settings. Most cameras will have auto-white balance features and autofocus, but if yours has many manual features, make sure you’ve taken the time to adjust to the correct aperture, have your camera properly focused on the scene, and that you can hear the audio clearly. Unless your scene is an earthquake, steady the camera.

Make sure you capture everything that’s listed on your shot list.

Post Production

Editing

All of it is fun, but this is the place where it all comes together. You’ve spent all of the days planning, your group all showed up the day you asked them to, you all worked your asses off, and filmed all of your scenes. Now it’s time to get all of your footage off of the camera and brought to a computer to see it for the first time. Viewing it takes time, especially if you shot a lot more than you needed to. You can immediately find the shots you aren’t going to use and delete them or categorize them for bloopers- just get them out of the way for now. Label and rename the files if you have time, for instance SC_1_SH_1.mov can represent “Scene 1; Shot 1”. This will be helpful when you bring the footage into the video editing software and save you a lot of time when editing.

Understanding video editing can be difficult to comprehend at first, but once you understand the basic structure it gets easier. All video editors have the same basic structure. Each will have a way to import and organize your video footage, a way to select pieces of each video clip, a timeline in which to place the selected portions of your clips, a window to view your footage, a window to view your project (the clips you’ve dragged into your timeline), and built in transitions, titles and effects.

Cut out the crap. If it doesn’t make sense or move the story along, it’s a shot or scene that can get cut. Many of us don’t have the attention spans and there are too many other videos waiting to be clicked on. Keep your videos short and entertaining or make sure your audience is learning something from them. Cut as frequently as you can so your audience won’t be too bored staring at the same shot on the screen.

Helpful Resources

Check your library and see if you have access to Lynda.com. Lynda.com is a great resource that offers video tutorials on computer software. Many of the tutorials start with the basics and can lead you all the way through an advanced level. Books and training manuals are also great tools, your library may have these in their reference or general collection. Safari Books is also a great source some libraries offer that have many of the manuals and training books available to read online. Google and web searching is also a great method to learn more about video production and editing, so many people on the Internet have ran into the same problems as you and post the solutions so others can find the answers too. YouTube is also a great searching method to find video tutorials made by creators just like you!

Video Editing Software

Basic Tools

iMovie (Mac only)

Windows Movie Maker (PC only)

Advanced Tools

(There are so many at varying costs, these are just a few of the most popular ones)

Final Cut Pro (Mac only)

Adobe Premiere Pro

Sony Vegas (PC only)

Sharing with the World

After exporting your completed video there are a number of ways to share your content. I recommend using YouTube. Chances are that you already have a Gmail account, which is also your login for YouTube. If you don’t have an account, don’t worry, you can create one for free. Uploading videos to YouTube is straightforward and they offer a lot of help in their Creators Hub (https://www.youtube.com/yt/creators/). Once you have it placed somewhere where it’s easy to share, it’s time to post it to your Facebook, email all of your friends, and hope the views roll-in.

I mentioned as an example earlier how a video starts with an initial idea, that’s how “Ramona and Her Father: Fighting Style” came to be. We had a teen film group at our library come up with an idea for James Kennedy’s 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. We added a twist, went well over the 90-Seconds, but had a great time from start to finish. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/LZqzXWjFsrA

If you are stuck trying to think of what to make, think about making videos that teach people something, maybe how to transfer a vinyl record to digital or how to register to vote at the library. Have fun creating and sharing with people!

Presented by Jeremy Slayton, Schaumburg Township District Library, Digital Production Studio Specialist

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