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Student Guide for Remote Learning + Making

How Do I Make Videos at Home?

This content is courtesy of IRFM - Media Center training. If you have additional questions, email mcexperts@saic.edu.
Advice on:

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Video Recording or Conferencing Recommendations
General Guide
  • Consider the space; Record in a quiet, well lit space 
  • If possible use a neutral background - Prevent backlight; no windows or bright lights in the background; Avoid messy backgrounds or any movement in the background 
  • External videos cameras and microphones can provide better quality but not always necessary 
  • To have the best audio quality, be close to the microphone and eliminate external noises. Consider using headphones which can prevent feedback. Or use an external microphone.
  • If using an external camera or phone, mount it on a tripod
  • Position the camera at eye level and/or slightly above and pointed down
  • If needed add a light or two in front of you, pointed in your direction
  • Use what you have; preferably one type of light; indoor or outdoor; incandescent or fluorescent; don’t mix lights with different color temperatures
    (Each lighting source gives off a different color. For example, tungsten bulbs make things seem a bit more orangish, fluorescent bulbs give off a green tint, and outdoor light looks more blue.) If you’re going to use fluorescent bulbs, try to use bulbs that are daylight balanced and not regular fluorescent bulbs.

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More Recording Tips
  • Shoot only what you need. Record the shots in the order it will be edited in the final version. Leave audio or video reminders of good or bad takes with loud claps or waving your hands in front of the camera so they are easily located when editing.
  • If you have an external microphone, use it. If recording video with the computer’s camera plug the mic directly into the computer. If recording video or doing a webinar with an external camera, plug the mic into the camera not the computer. This will keep the audio and video in sync.
  • Plug in an external microphone to your iPhone with the a mini to lightning bolt adapter
  • If using an external camera and addressing students directly, remember to look into the lens of the camera not the screen.

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Additional Training
LinkedIn Learning courses (lights, cameras, sound, internet):

  • Setting home/office shooting environment (space, position and lighting)
    Disregard the corporate look of the video. This course explains basic concepts of setting up for video recording and conferencing using what you have regarding space, lighting and a short bit about microphones and audio. It explains the importance of color temperature when selecting lights, placement of the camera, 2-point and 3 point lighting set ups. Provides tips when using external cameras and microphones. (appr. 25 minutes total)
  • Running a professional webinar (internet, camera and microphone options)
    This course goes over more technical concepts using a laptop for video conferencing or webinars. It explains the importance of a good internet connection, avoiding audio interference, microphone options, and connecting cameras and microphones to a laptop. The entire course is long but feel free to select the chapters that are the most helpful for you.
Other Tutorials:

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Webcam and Video Conferencing Readings
Recording Videos Using a DSLR
Settings:
  • Resolution - Select the video resolution from your camera's menu, Full HD (1080p, not 1080i)
  • Compression - H.264 / MPEG-4 is a compression format which is widely accepted by most post processing / video editing applications. And you won’t have to reconvert the footage to any other file format to post-process it. However, this format consumes a lot of storage space.
  • Choose frame rate 24fps 
  • Shutter speed - generally double the frame rate; 24fps = approximately 1/50th shutter 
  • Aperture - Keep in mind:
    • The higher the aperture, more of your shot will be in focus.
    • The lower the aperture, less of your shot will be in focus.
  • ISO - auto an option - higher number is good for low light situations but may have more noise
  • White balance - Manual is recommended (Each lighting source gives off a different color. For example, tungsten bulbs make things seem a bit more orangish, fluorescent bulbs give off a green tint, and outdoor light looks more blue.) 
    • To use a custom white balance all you have to do is to switch to photo mode:
      1. Within the Menu select Custom White Balance
      2. Take a picture of something white under the same light you are going to be recording
      3. Use this image as the custom white balance setting for your camera
      4. Switch back to video mode, select custom white balance and your camera will use the white balance setting you chose
Mount the Camera on a tripod to frame the shot and keep it steady
Plug in an external microphone; shotgun mic or lavalier mic are good options; can be monitored and controlled within the camera menu
 
For more advice, see Primal Video's How to Film Yourself with a DSLR! and Best Camera DSLR Video Settings instructional videos, and How to Shoot Video with a DSLR Camera by Chris Lavigne.
Recording Videos Using a Video Camera
Settings:
  • Resolution - Select the video resolution from your camera's menu, Full HD (1080p, not 1080i)
  • Compression - H.264 / MPEG-4 is a compression format which is widely accepted by most post processing / video editing applications. And you won’t have to reconvert the footage to any other file format to post-process it. However, this format consumes a lot of storage space.
  • Choose frame rate 24fps 
  • Exposure:
  • Aperture / Iris - Keep in mind Depth of Field:
    • The higher the aperture, more of your shot will be in focus.
    • The lower the aperture, less of your shot will be in focus.
  • Shutter speed - generally double the frame rate; 24fps = approximately 1/50th shutter 
  • Gain / ISO - Digitally boosting the overall image brightness is measured in decibels, however increasing the gain will increase noise / graininess.
  • Focus; Don’t use auto focus if there is a lot of movement
  • White balance - Manual is recommended to achieve the most natural color tone; Indoor or outdoor setting; (Each lighting source gives off a different color. For example, tungsten bulbs make things seem a bit more orangish, fluorescent bulbs give off a green tint, and outdoor light looks more blue.) Fill the video camera frame with a white piece of paper and hold down the white balance button until it sets. 
Mount the Camera on a tripod to frame the shot and keep it steady
Plug in an external microphone; shotgun mic or lavalier mic are good options; can be monitored and controlled within the menu
 
Recording videos with a smartphone

Recording Videos Using a Smartphone - iPhone

  • Make sure the phone is fully charged and there is plenty of storage space on the phone
  • Check camera settings: Record at HD 1080p is sufficient especially for online use
  • Turn on Airplane Mode / Do not disturb mode which prevents unwanted interruptions and also helps to preserve battery life
  • Decide whether to use the front or back facing camera - back facing is slightly higher quality but not as helpful when recording yourself
  • Clean the camera lens! Use a microfiber cloth
  • Record with the phone horizontal / landscape view which maintains traditional aspect ratio 16:9
  • Mount the camera on a tripod or prop up the phone at or near eye height
  • Add lights if necessary; direct them at yourself or object
  • Check brightness and focus by tapping on the phone; to lock down, press and hold the screen on the object that should be in focus until the yellow square blinks. Then using your finger, drag up or down to brighten or darken the image.

For more advice, see Primal Video's Filming with iPhone: The Complete Guide to Shooting Video like a PRO! instructional video.

Transferring to a Mac computer: Use WiFI using Airdrop or connect the phone to the computer and use Image Capture to manually transfer videos onto the computer (Image Capture is a standard app that comes with Mac computers). See Primal Video's How to Transfer Videos from iPhone to Mac instruction video.

Transferring to a PC computer: Connect phone to camera; open explorer window; locate phone; open internal storage > DCIM > Apple > drag and drop videos and photos. See Primal Video's How to Transfer Videos from PC to iPhone (and iPhone to Windows!) instructional video.
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Recording videos using a smartphone - Android

  • Make sure the phone is fully charged and there is plenty of storage space on the phone
  • Check camera settings: Record at HD 1080p is sufficient especially for online use (2-2.5mbps
  • Turn on Airplane Mode / Do not disturb mode which prevents unwanted interruptions and also helps to preserve battery life
  • Decide whether to use the front or back facing camera - back facing is slightly higher quality but not as helpful when recording yourself
  • Clean the camera lens! Use a microfiber cloth
  • Record with the phone horizontal / landscape view which maintains traditional aspect ratio 16:9
  • Mount the camera on a tripod or prop up the phone at or near eye height
  • Add lights if necessary; direct them at yourself or object
  • Check brightness and focus by tapping on the phone; to lock down, press and hold the screen on the object that should be in focus until the yellow square blinks. Then using your finger, drag up or down to brighten or darken the image.

For more tricks filming yourself with your phone camera, see Primal Video's How to Film Yourself with iPhone and Android (Like a PRO!) instructional video. 
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Recording Videos Using a Computer / Quicktime and a USB Mic

Check out these in-depth guides for more advice on recording videos using a computer or Quicktime and a USB mic:

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Video Editing
  • Transfer or copy all video footage and other media onto computer into a new folder
  • Make separate folders for each asset including footage, audio, graphics, draft files, completed files
Transferring to a Mac computer: Use WiFi using Airdrop or connect the phone to the computer and use Image Capture to manually transfer videos onto the computer (Image Capture is a standard app that comes with Mac computers). See Primal Video's How to Transfer Videos from iPhone to Mac instruction video.
 
iMovie - editing on a Mac (for beginners)
  • Create New project and new folders or bins to store assets
  • Import video/media using import button in My Media window or go to File > Import
  • Drag and drop video clips into timeline
  • Zoom in and out on timeline using the + and - keys
  • Trim the beginning and end of clip - highlight clip and hover above the front of the clip until arrow tool appears; clip and drag to new start and end points
  • Edit or cut out all parts not needed in the clip (keyboard shortcut: command B for blade)
  • Move clips around on the timeline by clicking and dragging to a different position on the timeline
  • Adjust audio volume by hovering over the audio clip. Select the line in the middle of the clip and drag up or down to increase or decrease the volume; keep the audio level at or under -12dbs
  • Transitions: Add Fade Ins or Face Outs at beginning or end of video and audio; hover cursor over the edge of a clip in the timeline and a tiny dot will appear; click and drag the dot to create a fade in or a fade out on each of the audio and video portions
  • Export the video: Review the video from start to end and export when finished. Select the share button at the top right corner with square and arrow; save as a file; rename; if needed change the resolution, quality and compression, which will affect the overall size of the file; this is important to consider when deciding if the final video will be uploaded later; and save

For more, see Primal Video's Video Editing for Beginners (Using Mac!) instructional video.
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iMovie - editing on an iPhone or iPad
  • Create New project
  • 3 windows appear: top right window has recently added media; top left is the window to view the video in the timeline; bottom window is the timeline
  • Import video footage; select media in top right window and hit the down arrow button that appears which transfers the video to the timeline editor
  • Zoom in and out on the timeline by pinching the screen as you would on any photo
  • Trim the beginning and end of the clip by tapping on the clip; select yellow border and drag into new start or end point
  • Edit or cut out any parts not needed by placing the cursor where the cut should be made, tap on the clip and hit the split button
  • Move clips around on the timeline by tapping the clip and dragging to new position
  • Adjust audio volume by tapping on clip, selecting the audio icon, and moving the volume slider; make sure the peaks in the audio don’t hit the red (above -12dbs)
  • Transitions: Face in or fade out audio by selecting clip, clicking on “Fade”; determine the length of the fade by dragging the yellow arrow. To fade in or out the video, select the settings or wheel at the top right corner which brings up video effects and transitions. Select the “Fade in from black” and / or the “Face out to black”
  • Export by clicking done in top left corner; hit the share button (square with arrow) on bottom middle of window; save video to device or send it directly to another app

For more, see Primal Video's Editing Video on iPhone & iPad: Editing with iMovie on iOS​ instructional video.
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Other video editing software reviews and suggestions