There is a tremendous variety of equipment and software available to help with filming and editing videos. Our main recommendation for filming is:
Use what you are comfortable with.
If this means filming on a phone, tablet, or computer webcam, that’s great! The vast majority of smart phones and laptops made within the last five years can record high-quality video.
While it’s true that using an expensive camera can improve video quality to some degree, considering issues like lighting, audio, and camera setup can vastly improve your video’s production value at little or no cost. Below are a few recommendations to improve your videos in these areas.
- Don’t neglect audio! Audio quality is hugely important, since the majority of your video’s content will likely be communicated verbally.
- Stay close to your microphone. Generally speaking, the closer, the better. This means that if you are using your phone or webcam, you should be as close as you can get while comfortably filling the frame.
- Use an external microphone if you can. If you have money to spend, this is the place to do it. There are lots of options, but a lavalier microphone will help ensure you are always picked up no matter where you move or turn your head. Make sure to pick a product that works for your device (phones, computers, and cameras can all have different audio ports).
- Avoid direct back light. This puts shadow on your face and drastically reduces video quality.
- Place light sources in front of you. Desk or floor lamps work just fine. Ideally you should have two lights in front of you at a 45 degree angle, but a single source directly in front works as well. See the example below, but note that the backdrop and indirect back lights in this image are not at all essential (though great if you want to go the extra mile).
- Keep your camera stable. If you are using a phone, this means placing it on a table or stand rather than holding it.
- Film in landscape (horizontal) orientation if you are using a phone or tablet, unless you are planning for your video to be viewed primarily on mobile devices.
- Place your camera at eye level, not above or below. Placing your phone or laptop on a stack of books on a table is a great solution.
Storing and Sharing Videos
You will need to decide where you want your videos to live based on how and with whom you want to share them. A few options are:
YouTube is a great option for video storage. It is easy to access and share, and it does a decent first pass at speech-to-text auto captioning (though you will need to proof/edit the captions to ensure accuracy). Since it is an open-web platform, you will need to be careful about privacy settings to avoid sharing sensitive information online.
You can find more info on YouTube on our YouTube Tool page.
Microsoft OneDrive is a quick and easy storage solution, particularly if you are only sharing with UMW students and/or employees. It does not auto-caption your videos, so you will need to caption them elsewhere to ensure your videos are accessible (Screencast-o-Matic is a great tool for this). All students and staff at UMW have access to OneDrive through their Microsoft 365 account (Outlook).
You can find more info on OneDrive on our OneDrive tool page.
The market for film equipment is constantly changing, and the best equipment will vary based on the specifics of your project. If you would like recommendations, feel free to contact Digital Learning Support using our Contact Form.
Note: Beware of purchasing equipment or kits on Amazon. Third-party sellers often market cheap knock-offs under the guise of name-brand products, or bundle products with cheap accessories at a premium price. UMW has contracts with a few reputable vendors who meet procurement guidelines. For a list of current AV vendor contracts, search for “Audio Visual Equipment and Supplies” in UMW’s Contract Management System.
For a great example of filming for class-use, and a demo of some advanced tools, see Zach Whalen’s ReFocus Online walkthrough of his video workflow.