• Best Practices - Video

    Video is one of the most effective ways to communicate Hamline University’s tapestry of stories about students, faculty, staff, alumni, events, academics, and achievements to the world. The accessibility of video, audio, and editing equipment enables everyone to be a storyteller. Here you will find some best practices to help you produce, film, and create compelling, informative videos.

    Pre-Production -- Be Prepared

    Preparing well before your shoot will save valuable time, as unexpected circumstances and equipment malfunctions often cause unforeseen challenges.

    Before you film your video:   

    • Confirm the date and time of the event or interview.
    • Inform those you are interviewing or the organizers of the event that you are bringing a video camera. 
    • Know ahead of time what conditions you will be filming in ie: indoors, outdoors, bright or dark conditions, noisy or quiet. 
    • Have all the equipment you need and confirm it is in working condition: Camera, batteries charged, usable tapes [if necessary], microphone [if necessary], cables [if necessary], image release forms, tripod [if necessary], lights [if necessary], windscreen [if necessary].


    As you film, consider the audience for your video. Think in terms of wide/medium/and close shots. Wide shots will establish the scene and let your audience know where you are, what is going on, and what type of story they are about to be told. Medium shots take you closer to the action, and close-ups give you an up-close-and-personal view of the action. This will be particularly helpful during the editing process, because there will be less repetition, more interesting pictures, and you will likely avoid jump cuts (editing from one shot of a person to another shot of the same person in a similar position to the previous clip).

    Be cognizant of how you move the camera. Camera movements that are shaky, jerky, or too quick are jarring and often unwatchable. Anytime you pan the room to show the action or people, make sure to move the camera slowly enough so that the video isn’t blurry. Even if you are filming a single person, or yourself, make sure you are holding the camera as steady as you can, or better yet, set the camera on a tripod or other level surface. Also, be sure there is a reason for camera movement. Do not pan or tighten/widen shots for the sake of doing it. Every movement of the camera tells the viewer something. Make sure it’s what you’re intending to say.

    Avoid filming in front of windows that let in a lot of light. Natural light can overpower artificial light and make indoor objects too dark to see.

    Whether you are filming an individual or a small group of people, ask them to sign an image release form provided by Hamline University. If you intend to film children or juveniles under the age of 18 you must have their parents sign the release form. Keep that release form for your records.


    The person you interview must be close enough to the camera to ensure appropriate audio levels. You can test this by recording a short microphone check. Have the person count to ten in a normal speaking voice so you can check the audiometer, or record them so you can play back the audio and check the level before the interview. If there is excessive background noise or wind, consider moving the interview to a quieter area.

    When framing up your interview subject in the camera’s viewfinder, place the subject either in the left or right third of the screen. You should then stand on the opposite side of the camera and have the subject face you while they are speaking. This way, the subject is on one side of the screen and facing into the ‘open area’ of the viewfinder. A person who is talking straight into the camera can be uncomfortable to watch unless that person is narrating the video.

    Be aware of what is going on behind the person you are interviewing. Activity, noise, signs, and other distractions can take focus away from what the speaker is saying or can infer unintended information.

    When you are shooting video that will be used by Hamline, be sure to have your interviewees sign Hamline’s image release form.

    3rd Party Music and Video

    If you intend to use copyrighted music or video for your piece, make sure you are not violating the law. Find more information on the law.


    It is usually best to begin editing by using video shots that introduce 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 fluid. Of course, there is room for creativity and a sequence of quick shots can help the pacing of your story. Just make sure it is not overly distracting. Always remember your goal is to deliver information or tell a story.


    Do not include swearing, inappropriate content (nudity, etc), on-camera drinking (even if over 21) or intoxicated persons, on-camera smoking, allusions to things sex-related, rants, grievances, or any other behavior that would damage the reputation of Hamline University.

    Follow University Policies

    Be sure that you are following Hamline University’s Social Media Guidelines and Technology Use Policy.


    YouTube analytics have shown that the attention span of the internet audience is quite short. Generally viewers will only watch a video for 1-2 minutes unless it contains particularly compelling images or sound bites. Audiences spend even less time watching a video that only contains a subject or subjects simply talking to the camera in a static environment. Instead of one long video, consider making a series or shorter (30 seconds - 1 minute) videos. You may not be able to get all the information you want to disseminate in a short video, but that’s not a bad thing. You can add a web address link to the accompanying text or video graphics so people can click the link for more information.


    Before making your video public by posting it on the Internet, emailing to internal or external audiences, or viewing it in other public forums, consider the production quality. Be sure audio levels are set at an appropriate level so your audience can hear and understand what is being said. Assess whether the people and places in your video are being shown clearly and in an accurate, appropriate, and/or flattering way. One of the best ways to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of your video is to look at it as if someone else had produced it. If you saw this video done by another institution or group, what sort of impression would it leave with you about those people or that place? Is that the impression you would like to give to the public?



    If you are uploading your video to YouTube, make sure to take advantage of the option to 'tag' your video. Adding appropriate tags allows users to find your video as they search for content they are interested in. For example, if your video is about the business major at Hamline, using the tags 'business major, Hamline University, college majors, Minnesota Private Colleges, career advice, what should I major in'  will help your video appear higher in the search results for people who use those words to look for videos on YouTube. Please always use 'Hamline University,' 'Hamline,' and 'Minnesota Private Colleges' in your tags.