Video design and script writing

Planning a video

Before you start filming, you should stop for a moment, take a deep breath and think about your video and its future use. Audiovisual material is harder for computers to handle than text or photo and requires more computing power, memory and storage space than normal office work. In addition, taking into account a few basic things about filming, lighting and recording allows you to avoid the greatest issues regarding the technical video quality and  the number of retakes needed.

Usually, filming and watching a video is quite easy, but editing is time-consuming for the above reasons. That is why you should try to plan the steps of filming your video accurately in advance in order to reduce your workload during the editing phase!

Consider the following issues, in particular:

  • comply with the assignment closely, especially with regard to the duration and content of the video: whether it is a study assignment or an interview video, there are likely quite specific requirements for the technical aspect of the video, as well as its style and duration
  • write at least a simple script before filming
  • keep the video as short and concise as possible
  • do not stress about having to perform – you can retake any part you like and cut out any minor faults, and a good, comprehensive script will help you with this
  • often, for videos with a lot of narration, sound quality is more important than image quality

Writing a script

In a video based on a PowerPoint presentation, the slides themselves will often act as a script, but if the intention is to combine different elements such as clips shot outdoors, interviews and screen capture sections, it is good to start by creating some kind of script about the content of the video. This makes it easier to visualise the video in advance and to get an overall idea of whether the idea is feasible with the available resources or if it can be developed further.

Below is a very simply three-stage process to create a script:

  1. First of all, come up with a single sentence describing the main message/concept/idea of your video. Instead of THIS: “conceptualise the idea and purpose of the video, etc.”
  2. Create a simple script that describes scene by scene, what happens in the video, while considering the dramatic arc, so that the video has a beginning that hooks the viewer, a fluent middle and an end that ties everything together.
  3. Complete the script with a storyboard: what happens in different stages of the video = what is shown and heard in each scene

You can download a simple script template in Word format, that provides a good base for working on the script.

Screen capture video

A common and easy way to make content such as instructional videos is to record events on your computer screen and add a description voiceover description to the video either in real time or afterwards. Sometimes, a webcam image of the speaker is also included. Streaming computer games directly to video services (such as Twitch) with an included commentary is one example of a screen capture video that may be familiar to some.

Instructional videos and computer games have made it increasingly easy to make screen capture videos as technology has evolved to meet needs and currently there are several programs available for this purpose free of charge.

Videos shot with a camera

With modern mobile phones, everyone can shoot videos of a quite sufficient quality – the world has changed since big chunky special video cameras cost a fortune. For some uses a video shot in one go, for example, on your phone can be quite enough and such videos are easy to publish by uploading to Unitube Uploader  directly from your phone.

In addition to the tool used to shoot the video, another factor that can greatly impact the quality of a video is using some type of stand to prevent vibration (also on mobile devices). If you do not have a tripod, you should shoot with your arms down and your elbows supported against your body to make the image more stable than it would be if you kept your arms fully extended in front of you.

Also consider the lighting conditions at your shooting locations. For example, it is not advisable to shoot an interviewee sitting in a chair in front of a window with sun shining directly into the camera that you hold manually.

Video sounds

The audio track of a video can usually be edited separately from the image, allowing you to adjust the volume, for example, between different scenes. If you are making a screen capture video, you should use a high-quality external microphone instead the internal microphone of your laptop, if possible. When shooting outdoors, you should pay attention to the wind and protect your microphone or phone and its microphone to avoid the wind causing disturbing noise. The best thing, of course, is to shoot outside only in calm weather.

You can also create an audio track for the video completely separately afterwards. For example, in ScreenPal you can freely record your speech to parts you wish to have as a separate audio track.

Editing videos afterwards

If possible, the easiest way is to shoot your entire video in one shot. For example, in the case of a video presentation no post-processing might be required and you can just publish the video. However, this is not always the case, and often the video needs to be edited, such as erasing unnecessary parts from the beginning or the end or re-recording some parts of the voiceover speech. In that case you will need some kind of video editor, which are described in more detail in the following chapters.