These guidelines are an extension of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Style Guide
Here are some fundamental best practices to help you produce compelling and informative videos.
Three stages of video production
Essentially, there are three stages of video production: pre-production, production and post-production. Pre-production is the planning stage, where you work out the logistics of the shoot and draft a script/storyboard. Production is the actual video shoot, and post-production is editing and delivering the video.
The best way to ensure that the production and post-production stages go smoothly is with thorough pre-production.
Here is a basic checklist:
- Define the goal of your video and how you will measure its success
- Define what story you’re trying to tell
- Define your audience and where your video will be posted
- Define a timeline for the project
- Draft a storyboard/script
Write in as conversational and as friendly a tone as you can. Here are some tips:
- Use short sentences
- Write for the ear – not for the eye (most people will only hear the video narration so you can be informal, use contractions, etc.)
- Read your script out loud (then you’ll hear where you need to make changes)
Here are additional steps for the pre-production process:
- Define your interview subject(s) and possible location(s)
- Scout possible locations, ensure there is good lighting, sound and background
- Confirm date and time of event or interview(s)
- Ensure that all your equipment is available and working properly: camera, empty camera card, batteries, microphone, cables, tripod, lights/bounce card, headphones
Here are some tips on getting good video footage during the production process:
- Use a tripod
- Use manual focus
- Set the white balance for each shot
- When shooting outdoors, keep the sun behind you
- When shooting indoors, beware of excessive light from windows in the background
- Avoid zooming
- Allow sufficient head room so the subject’s head isn’t too close to the top of the frame
- Don’t cut off where the subject’s eyes are leading when the subject is looking immediately off frame
- Use the rule of thirds when framing your subjects during interviews. Where the lines intersect suggests that these points are the best places to position your subject. Doing so will generally result in a pleasant and balanced composition
- Use an external microphone
- Do a sound/level check and use headphones to listen for background noise. If there is too much noise, find another location
- Do multiple takes
- Consider a mix of wide/medium/close shots
- Add a few seconds to the beginning and end of each take to help with editing
- If subject is being led by an off-screen interviewer, ensure there is some space between the questions and answers for easier editing
- Get subject to sign photo/video consent form
Here are some general considerations when editing your video:
- Use the script/storyboard as the blueprint for your video
- Remember the story you are trying to tell. Always stay true to the narrative
- Avoid flashy transitions and effects. Be creative, not kitschy
- Avoid copyrighted music or video
- Keep in mind that one to two minutes is an optimum length for online video. If you must use a longer video, break it up into smaller, standalone chunks
- Don’t complicate your video with too much information. Keep it simple
- Output the final video in MP4 format, which can be played by most media players and mobile media devices
Where appropriate, bring the institutional brand story into the video especially if it is part of a larger communications and marketing effort. Graphics and images from a larger campaign will align the video with other materials. The Office of Communications and Marketing can assist.
Otherwise, when identifying speakers/programs/buildings, use the UA Little Rock logo in the accompanying title graphics.
Copyright considerations: Be sure you have the right to use any videos that you want to add to your courses. If you’re unclear about what those rights are and what your responsibilities include, please review these resources:
- The Essential Copyright: A Guide to Copyright in the Educational Setting (UNC Charlotte Atkins Library)
- Fair Use and Copyright (Center for Media & Social Impact at American University)
- Distance Education & The TEACH Act (American Library Association)
All videos (and graphics for video) should be created with 1080p high-definition specifications (a screen ratio of 16:9):
- Resolution: 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high
- Codec (if applicable): H.264
- Frame rate (if applicable): 29.98 frames per second
Safe zones must be observed. The “action safe” area is a rectangular area far enough from the four edges so text or graphics show neatly, with a margin and without distortion. The inner rectangle is the “title safe” zone (90 percent of the screen, or 1728 x 972 pixels). Graphics should be kept within this area if your video might be shown on a variety of screen sizes or some information might not be visible.
If your video is to be viewed primarily on the web, graphics can creep into the outer rectangle “action-safe zone” (95 percent of the screen, or 1824 x 1026 pixels), but never put captions, titles, or credits in the outer border area – the “NO” zone.
Visual identity guide: Typography and color
The UA Little Rock visual brand uses the Myriad Pro typeface.
Lower-third graphics (also known as keys or fonts) identify people, places and things in your video and should also adhere to style guide standards. Despite the name “lower third,” these graphics rarely take up a third of the screen and should be positioned in a way that showcases both the subject and the relevant information.
Myriad Pro is the primary font choice for lower-third graphics. Names and titles must be accurate and spelled correctly. Use full, formal titles, but if lengthy, use your judgment to shorten or abbreviate. Keep the title readable in a short time frame, and if the interview subject has more than one title, choose the one most pertinent to the story.
Please ensure adequate contrast between the text and the background for legibility. Do not use any filters on text such as drop shadows, outlines (strokes), glows, etc., as the text might not render well in video format.
All colors used in video graphics should adhere to the UA Little Rock Style Guide. A broad palette of soft and vibrant colors has been developed to complement the institutional maroon and silver, but should be used as accent colors. Keep in mind that contrast is very important when it comes to graphics for video. Choose colors for maximum contrast and legibility. The color palette can be found in the UA Little Rock Style guide Official University Colors.
Visual identity guide: Logo use
Use of the UA Little Rock logo should be consistent with the Style Guide. All logos should be used at screen resolution (72dpi in RGB color mode). The full color logo is the preferred version and should be used wherever possible. Use the full color version with white type when the background does not provide enough contrast for the type.
A safe area around the logo must be preserved at all times to ensure legibility, isolating the logo from competing elements that may detract attention and lessen the overall impact. The safe area is determined by the height of the capital U in the wordmark.