Four Ways to Improve Your Videos

  • Published: Monday, July 6, 2020

Video is one of my favorite ways to create in the classroom. It helps students learn deeper because they present and explain topics and subjects. It also opens a whole new avenue for creativity that many students will enjoy. After your students have explored making videos, they will soon begin asking how to make them better. Here are four ways you can make your students’ video experiences even better.

  1. Storyboard: I know, it’s not a camera tip. But storyboarding is like your roadmap to better videos. Setting up shots, placing actors, arranging props, describing actions, camera or actor movements, etc. are all critical for everyone to understand before you say “action.” Storyboards help everyone understand how the shot is supposed to work, which means fewer takes and less frustration. You can get free, downloadable storyboard templates at Printablepaper.net, or if you want to stay virtual, Celtx is a great app for iOS and Android (Chrome also, but not free). Focus on getting the point across, not magnificent artwork. Stick figures are fine! You just need to know what they are doing and what the camera is doing.
  2. Stabilize the shot: It is fine to shoot video just holding your device, but you will rapidly get tired of bouncy, wobbly, jittery shots. Also, cameras in mobile devices don’t stabilize very well, and since any commands you need to give them involve poking the screen, keeping them focused and in frame is a challenge. Look at a decent tripod and a frame like a Padcaster or iOgrapher to mount your device like a real camera. This also opens up a whole new world of different shots and actor movements that are hard to do handheld.
  3. Upgrade your lighting: Mobile devices are fantastic starting points for videography, but they don’t do well in any but the best lighting, which doesn’t exist. The fluorescent lighting of a school classroom can be harsh and inconsistent. Simple LED light kits or umbrella light kits are not expensive and keep the mobile device from jumping to lighter or darker all the time when it gets confused with the lighting.
  4. Invest in a better microphone: While the cameras on mobile devices are good enough to do the job, their microphones are not made for recording subjects at a distance (remember when they just used to be phones?), so an external mic is critical for capturing better audio. Yes, these can get expensive, but a good lapel mic or handheld is worth its price. Many of the device mounts mentioned above also provide mounts and recommend models that work with them. And, many can connect directly to your device through a cable or app.

There are many other things you can do: apps for green screen and special effects as well as those that control the camera, lighting and audio; editing tools to help stitch videos together; and tons more. But if you are looking for the next step in working with video, consider one of these.