Engage Millennial Parents with Video: 10 Tips for Recording Video in Schools

Originally Posted  in Huffington Post July 19, 2016

Millennials, which represent more than half of K-12 parents, teachers, and volunteers, prefer video to any other source to learn and be entertained. Close to half of Millennials (48%) ONLY watch video on their mobile devices. As a blogger, I love this because I have a great opportunity for our school and corporate partners to record their ideas and great social impact moments and share them on their social networks and websites.

Everyone has a powerful video camera in their pocket and with a little practice and knowledge of a few key tips; you can start recording high-quality footage from your partnership experience. So here are ten tips from a video professional that you can keep in mind when recording video at school or anywhere you want to capture the moment. Although some of these tips might seem obvious, I guarantee that following all of them will result in a great video every time.

1. Record in Landscape: That means turn your phone sideways. Nothing ruins a great video more than having two vertical bars running down the side of your screen. Not only does the landscape orientation offer a more athletically pleasing video, but it will also look better on a computer, YouTube or a TV. You will also be able to capture more video in the frame.

2. Never Zoom: The digital zooms on smartphones are not good. They compress the image and diminish the quality. It is always better to move closer to your subject than to zoom in.

3. Make Sure You Have Good Lighting: Schools are notorious for having poor lighting. Most schools use fluorescent lights and cameras do not recognize fluorescent light the way our eyes do. Take advantage of windows that bring in natural light. You can also get creative with desk lamps or other non-fluorescent portable lights. If you want to record a lot of video over the year, it might be wise to invest in an inexpensive LED light. They are bright, do not emit heat and work on batteries so you can take them anywhere. Here is a link to the one I use. ($26) http://amzn.to/1UQlkWi

4. Watch for Backlighting: Never record a person or subject in front of a light source like a window or a bright light. Your eyes will not notice, but your camera will not pick up the facial features. You will get a silhouette. It is possible to record with a backlight if you have a strong light in the front to light up your subject. The LED light (above) could work if it is close, right by your phone or camera.

5. Pay Attention to Your Audio: Schools are usually loud, especially the employee-engagement volunteer programs DKMC initiates. When recording kids at the event, volunteers at work or a  family event, it’s fine to allow the natural sound of the activity to come through. If you are interviewing a parent, community volunteer, or a student telling you about his or her new book, you need to be in a controlled environment. Your camera phone’s microphone is fine if you are very close but not for a distance of greater than, say 2 feet. Find a quiet place in the school to do your interviews. Empty classrooms or the principal’s office work well. If you have students around, that’s fine, just ask them and any one else in the room to please be quiet. Your microphone will pick up everything but the interview. When I record in schools, I like to use an inexpensive lapel microphone accessory. ($32.99) http://amzn.to/1TPGHEJ This way you can clip the microphone on your interview subject and get their audio and avoid some of the background noise.

6. Hold Your Camera Still: Nothing kills a video like a shaking camera and believe me, those small phones are hard to hold still for any length of time. Consider using a tripod for interviews. I use this small portable, lightweight smartphone tripod that comes with a mobile phone clip. ($7.99) http://amzn.to/1VSaujS I also use this handy grip that helps me keep the camera level and fluid when I am moving around recording. It also doubles as a mini-tripod. ($5.99) http://amzn.to/1OfqtG4

7. Compose Your Interview Shot: You want interview subjects off center and looking slightly towards the long end of the screen. For example, if you have your interview subject on the right side of the screen, you want them looking slightly to the left of your camera. You can set your camera up on the tripod and hold your hand about 6 inches to the side you want them to look and ask them to “talk to the hand.” If you want to compel someone to take action, then in some cases it is ok to look directly into the camera.

8. Don’t Let Kids Run Off the Screen: When recording moving subjects, you want to make sure they are not running out of the frame. For example. If you are recording a classroom coming into your event, position the kids on the side of the screen opposite of the room they are moving towards. Another way to explain it is this way. If you are recording a car moving from left to right, you want to keep the car framed on the left side of the screen.

9. Interview Tips: When interviewing, most of the time the viewer will not hear your questions to the person being interviewed. Begin the interview by asking them to repeat your question back to you in a complete thought. For example. Ask “Why do you love to read?” They might just say…”It’s fun.” That alone is unusable as a stand-alone statement. You want them to answer like this. “I love to read because it’s fun.” Make sure you ask your question and then be quiet. It is natural to want to affirm when someone is talking to you. Just nod your head but do not say, yea, uh huh, etc. And pause two seconds before you say anything or ask the next question after they finish so you leave time to cut when you edit.

10. Editing on Your Phone: And finally, sometimes a little editing is required to make your video pop. Fortunately, there are some great apps that are easy to use and allow you to add that professional look to your final video. I use iMovie for the iPhone and iPad. It includes titles and transitions and can even make your video into a movie trailer. Another good one is Adobe’s Premier Clip, which works on all mobile devices.

Use these ten steps and you will be amazed how much better your videos come out. I am also a professional photographer, and many of these tips work for photography as well, especially the composition and lighting tips


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