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Video on the Web

Video seems to be everywhere these days, but as a university, it's important that we provide the best quality video possible to users who visit the Student Affairs site. Online video is great for marketing and recruiting, but a poorly developed video can do you more harm than good.

Though YouTube seems to have given an audience to anyone with a video-recording device, quality still counts. Any video posted to the Student Affairs website reflects your department, the division, the university, and the missions and reputations thereof. Shaky camera work and crackly audio is commonly found on the Web, but this doesn't represent the quality video we would like to present as a university.

How Do I Get Started?

Good video takes time, so don't expect perfection the first time around. You have to plan ahead and create an optimal environment before turning on the camera and creating the final cut. With this in mind, we have some helpful tips that will help you understand the process and offer you some ideas for building quality digital audio and video files for posting to the web.

Capturing crisp, quality, video begins with high-end equipment and software. Video captured on a cell phone may be useful on YouTube but it's not acceptable for the Student Affairs website. Even many digital still cameras with video as an "added feature" produce sub-par results. A quality original is the foundation to a top-notch finished project and should be your first priority.

Tips for Shooting Video

Do you have patience to shoot video? Do you have a steady hand? Quality video footage is not something that can be captured on-the-fly. If great video is a necessity for your group, consider hiring MediaVision to do the work for you. They not only have all the right equipment, but they can offer you a wide range of resources.

We all know that background noise, camera shake and visual distractions that are captured on tape can turn a great video into a bad one. So if you're new to videography, give yourself ample time to learn. Familiarize yourself with the video camera's viewfinder, accessories, and zoom features. Get a feel for how it operates. Learn where the built-in microphone is located and how the on/off/pause button works. You wouldn't want your important video project to turn into a disaster so test your skills on your friends and family. Watch your test videos closely. Take notes on things you'll want to avoid in the future. Did your finger slip in front of the lens part of the time? Is the wind blowing across the microphone and adding wind noise? Did backlighting turn your subject into silhouettes? Does the camera shake make the video inappropriate for those with motion sickness?

When it comes to audio, a front-mounted microphone works well for subjects filmed in front of the camera, while a top-mounted microphone will often pick up sounds behind the camera too. Even better is a cordless microphone or a direct tap into your event's sound system, if possible. A lot of video can be rendered useless due to inaudible video or videographers heard chatting during inopportune moments. To eliminate camera shake, consider using a video tripod, which is much different than a photo tripod. This will help you smoothly pan and tilt the camera, giving you nice, fluid scenes.

What Makes Good Content?

Offer some variety instead of shooting your subject, head on. Include close-up, mid-range and pull-back shots so users can see what's happening from a variety of perspectives.

Keep your video captivating. No one wants to see the same subject being filmed for 30 minutes, so zoom in on faces in the crowd or things going on outside the circle. By pulling back the camera and giving people a feel for scale/depth, you can show users that the event is much bigger/wilder. For more tips on good video techniques, see what the experts have to say at the University of California Berkely Graduate School of Journalism.

Converting Your Raw Footage

Once you capture your analog video on a camcorder, you will need to convert it to a digital file so you can begin the editing process. For best results, always download the raw tape directly from a camcorder into a non-linear video editor (NLVE) like Adobe Premier Elements. If you have a digital video (DV) camcorder and the video editing software is already installed on your computer, you can manage the conversion yourself over a firewire connection between camcorder and computer. Or you can bring your camcorder and videotape to The Freedman Center, located in the Kelvin Smith Library (KSL). The center has an external capture device you can use at the library, and the staff can teach you how to use it.

The conversion process may take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the length of your video. Since you will need to take a copy of the digital file with you, make sure you bring several CDs with you to the library. Save your clips as separate, manageable files; otherwise a single large file may be too big to save on a CD-ROM.

When converting your movie file, it should be saved to a format that matches its intended use. If you plan to post it on your Student Affairs site, you will need to save it as an .flv file. If you want to make a DVD out of it, choose the MPEG-2 format instead. We recommend you always talk to IT Support before you compress your files, otherwise, the final quality may not be what you anticipated.

Saving and Editing Your Files

Some people choose to save their footage to DVD since the process is relatively easy. If you choose to save your video to a DVD to view at a later time, this process will compress the file. Then, if you re-edit the movie for use on the web, the quality of the video could be compromised. It's always better to have a full-quality, uncompressed version you can edit, so keep a copy of the raw footage at all times.

If you determine that you need help from the IT Support group regarding compressed/uncompressed files, please do not send the files to us via email. Video files are extremely large and should be saved to a network drive where they can be accessed by the IT support team. We have a dropbox on the H: drive you can use, so please contact IT support for more information.

Once you have successfully converted your file, you are ready to edit your video using a video-editing software program. All machines in Student Affairs have Windows Movie Maker installed, but if you need additional options, you might consider using Adobe Premiere Elements for editing. This program is available at the Freedman Center, so we suggest that you experiment with it first before purchasing the software.

Helpful Hints
  • Once you convert your footage to an uncompressed file, always make a back-up copy of the uncompressed version. Once you compress, edit and encode the file, you will sacrifice a great degree of quality if you try and edit the compressed file a second or third time. Try and edit your file once, then compress the file, and never delete your raw data. You never know when you will need it again for another project.
  • Copyright rules DO apply to music, sounds, video effects and anything else you don't own. Always make sure you check with the author before adding them to your video.

The Freedman Center has a wonderful collection of free music and sound effects, so plan on spending a few hours to review their selection. You are permitted to copy the files at no charge, so be sure to bring a blank CD or flash drive with you. You can scroll through their huge selection and copy any files you need.

Posting Your Files to the Web

If you want to place your files on the web, we recommend the following two options:

  • Upload it to Case TV
  • Embed it directly into your web page. (Once your final video is ready to go, please contact the IT support team so we can properly encode your video for our site.)
Adding Captions

For accessibility purposes, we require that all videos uploaded to the Divisional YouTube channel include a caption file. Please review our video accessibility guidelines to ensure that your media is usable for all of our website viewers.