Guide

Create the best quality video content at home

Updated on 15 March 2021

If you've never had to create a video without assistance, there are some simple techniques you can use to make it look as professional as possible using the tools and technology you already have

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You may find several of these techniques similar to those from the guide for online meetings. However creating a video where you are presenting to camera rather than just being visible at your laptop is a different product, so different rules apply. 

Lighting

Be aware of the lighting in your surroundings. Even in the same room the position of you in relation to the lighting can have a significant impact on the quality of your video. 

Try to avoid strong backlighting, in particular if you are using a smartphone, such as a ceiling light or window in the background.

Here is an example of how lighting can dramatically change the quality of your video. This was deliberately shot with a low quality selfie camera on an iPhone 6 to show how much the lighting can improve the quality even of a low end camera.

How lighting can affect your video

Which orientation to use

Decide whether to shoot vertically (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) 

Each format has its strengths and weaknesses, but both have their own unique functionality on social media. 

Vertical videos are good for Instagram story, while landscape video is better for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you are supplying video to the University for distribution on YouTube, please supply it to us in landscape format.

Best picture quality

The front facing (selfie) camera on most phones is not as good quality or resolution as the rear facing one you take pictures with. Videos shot with this may look blocky when viewed on anything other than a phone.

Two photos of Jim McGeorge, one with a poor resolution making it look blocky, the other high resolution and clear

The top image is an example of what using a low resolution setting can look like

If you have a phone comparable to an iPhone 6s or later your selfie camera will be fine. If you have an older phone like an iPhone 6 or SE try to use your main phone camera if possible. This will be capable of shooting at least 720p or 1080p resolution and will give you much better quality. However, it’s not as convenient in operation and you will need a helper or preferably a tripod or other support to hold your phone. 

If you've got a relatively recent Android smartphone, checking the resolution count is easy. Just open the camera app, click the settings icon (the small cog) and you should find the megapixel information listed under the heading Photo size. This settings page provides information specific to the camera you're currently using, so you'll have to back out and swap between the front and rear cameras from the main camera app to view the megapixel counts for both. Anything above 5mp is fine.

If you are supplying video to the University for distribution or for YouTube video please use a resolution of at least 720p. You can find more information about resolution and why it matters on the Vimeo website.

Although laptops have webcams, and many have reasonable picture quality, we recommend using your smartphone where possible as they are designed for easier point and shoot use.

Keeping your camera steady

No matter how steady your hands are, it's definitely worth the extra effort to stabilise your shots with a tripod even if you are using the selfie camera. 

Try to position your camera slightly above your eye-line so we are not looking up your nose or commenting on your chins! It might be worth creating a dedicated area for your videos with good consistent lighting and marks for your camera so you can return to this in the future with minimum set up time. 

If you don’t have a suitable support or tripod there are a few DIY solutions out there on the internet such as using a wine bottle and some hair bands.

A home made tripod, where two hair bands hold a phone against the neck of a wine bottle

A full bottle of wine works best as the extra weight makes it more stable

Or if you’re looking to do a few videos you might want to invest in a table top tripod. There are many options available, but you'd normally expect to pay around £7 to £20.

Communication

The words in your message are the most important thing and you want to deliver these as clearly as possible. Prepare with some bullet points and have a rough idea of what you need to say for each, to get your point across. 

Resist the temptation to feel like you need to keep talking in depth about everything or you may end up with a video that’s far too long. The shorter the message the more chance you can deliver it without having to do multiple retakes.

As well as your message, think about your location and who or what can be seen in the background - laundry, artwork, kitchen table.

Audio quality

Most of our phones have acceptable microphones but try to keep any background noise (radio, TV, kitchen sounds) to a minimum and ensure others in your household know you are recording, so they don’t interrupt.

Review your video so you can hear it clearly without having to turn the volume to maximum. 

We are here to help you as much as we can so feel free to contact mediaservices@dundee.ac.uk for any further enquiries.

Your videos

We have created a dedicated gallery for you to upload your videos if you want them distributed via the University. 

University video distribution

To view uploaded videos you'll need an access password. Email mediaservices@dundee.ac.uk for this.

Upload video to University shared folder
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