Recording audio and video does not have to be time-consuming or difficult. Most people have the ability to capture multimedia from their mobile devices and the new lecture capture system will allow automated recording of lectures and events within central teaching rooms. You can also use Personal Capture via the MediaSite Desktop Recorder which allows you to create recordings of yourself and screen movements. Regardless of how you record something, there are general good practice considerations to be aware of that if implemented, will increase the quality of your recordings.
- What do you want to record and why?
- Who is the recording for?
- Does the recording have to take place in a specific space?
- In what context will the recording be made available?
Answering the above questions will enable you to identify:
- The purpose and focus of your recording – the aims and objectives
- Style and language
- Choice of equipment available
- How much work is involved and how important the production values are
If you are creating a video for public display on the University’s iTunes U or YouTube channels (for example), then a high quality recording is significantly more important than if you are recording some one-to-one feedback on an assignment for a student. In the case of student feedback, providing the recording is clear and appropriate, the content is the main priority.
Access and inclusion
When planning to create your multimedia content, always consider good practice techniques you can integrate to ensure your multimedia recordings are more accessible; this does not only benefit those with a disability, everyone can benefit from increased accessibility. Refer to the Being Inclusive section for further guidance.
The location for your recording can determine how you will create it e.g.
Within Central Teaching Rooms
The lecture capture system within central teaching rooms could be used to record:
- Student presentations
- Guest speakers
Recording at your desk
Software on your desktop could be used to record:
- Activity on your computer screen
- interactive e-learning resources
- student feedback
You may also need a webcam and microphone to support recording at your desk.
Personal recordings away from your desk
Depending upon the purpose of the recording and the audience, a range of equipment could be used to create your own recordings away from your desk including mobile devices, handheld cameras and professional recording equipment.
You may also need a better quality microphone, tripod or other camera mounts.
Depending upon the recording equipment you are using, you may require an additional microphone. Always test the microphone within the environment and context it will be used for recording.
If you are recording at your desk, you may want to record yourself too, through a webcam. Webcams usually have built-in microphones, so again test the quality in advance. You should also consider the most appropriate position for your webcam, so that you present yourself well on screen. Mounting a webcam on a tripod rather than on the top of a computer screen can provide more flexibility in terms of how you can position it.
Tripods and mounts
If you are using a handheld camera, the use of a tripod can be essential in keeping the camera steady; this can make a big difference to the quality of the recording. A tripod is not always necessary or practical though but the longer the recording, the more likely a tripod (or a wearable mount) would be useful for capturing more professional looking footage.
As with all other equipment, tripods and mounts should be tested in advance. Tripods in particular usually allow for some camera movement, so that you can pan the camera side-to-side or tilt it up and down, to follow the action or focus of interest. Depending upon what you want to film, you might want the camera to remain rigid or have some flexibility to move, so make sure the tripod is set up to meet your recording needs.
For most professional-looking recordings, the camera should be level, even if the ground isn’t level, a tripod can be adjusted to compensate for a sloping or uneven surface. Some tripods are equipped with a spirit level to improve accuracy.
Most video recordings can be undertaken making the most of natural and artificial light within the space where the recording will take place. If you feel your recording requires the use of professional lighting equipment, please contact the Communications Team for further guidance and support.
Advice on Light
Further advice on making the most of natural and artificial light sources can be found in the “plan your recording” section, below.
Power and memory
Power and memory requirements for your recording will be determined by the equipment you use. If you are using a handheld device to record, always ensure the batteries are fully charged and that you have spares, if necessary.
Also ensure the recording device has sufficient memory to record the duration of your activity or event.
Please note, temperature can have a negative impact upon battery life and memory cards (as well as camera equipment in general), so if you are recording in the field in an extreme environment, you will need more specialised advice about recording equipment.
Plan your recording
Whether you intend to use an automated lecture capture system, screen capture software or a handheld recording device, some level of planning will be beneficial.
A storyboard contains a series of images which illustrate what the camera needs to capture, the type of camera shots you want to include, any movement of the camera and sound (e.g. a script for interview questions).
Not all video recordings need to be planned for with the use of a storyboard but if your recording will involve the use of a handheld camera (with or without a tripod or mount), consider planning what you need to record by sketching a basic storyboard first.
Find out more about how to draw a storyboard
Using the camera
Use of the camera can convey meaning just as much as the content being recorded. Familiarising yourself with some basic camerawork principles can assist you in creating better video.
Camera position and framing
- Long shot: used to establish a scene such as the location where the action is going to take place. An external long shot of a University building might be appropriate to introduce a video of an event or interview taking place within a specific department or building.
- Medium shot (or mid-shot): includes the upper body of the subject and some background. A medium shot puts the subject in context e.g. a researcher in a lab or an interviewee in an office. A medium shot enables upper body language to be filmed as well as facial expressions.
- Close-up: focuses more upon the subject’s face and can include the shoulders. Close-ups are useful when wanting to draw attention to the subject, focus on a response and capture emotion.
- High angle: the camera points down at the subject, making the subject appear smaller.
- Low angle: the camera points up at the subject, making the subject appear larger and more dominant.
All camera movement should be used thoughtfully and sparingly; it can add value but it can also be easily over-used and too much camera movement can make it difficult for the audience to focus. Fast camera movement, can cause motion sickness. If you intend to move the camera during recording, consider the use of a tripod (see advice above).
- Pan: the camera moves from side-to-side, following the action. Panning can also be combined with a long shot, to establish and set the scene e.g. to capture a large audience at an event or a landscape.
- Tilt: the camera moves vertically up and down.
- Zoom: the camera draws the audience into the action, to focus their attention e.g. to highlight detail. The camera can also zoom out of the action, to widen focus again. In the context of professional and academic recordings, zooming should be used sparingly, slowly and steadily.
Mise en scène (not just for movie-makers)
Mise en scène refers to everything that is filmed; this includes:
- costume (what you or your subjects are wearing)
- props and visual aids (this could include office or lab equipment, depending upon the location)
Think carefully about what the camera is capturing and the meaning you want to convey. If a subject is being interviewed, they may have notes on the desk – the camera does not need to capture those.
If a recording is taking place in an office, this can provide context but consider what should be removed or re-positioned to avoid being recorded e.g. there might be personal information on display on a desk, or computer screen, or photographs on the wall.
The same considerations apply for recording from your screen:
- only record the window on your computer containing the relevant content and information; your audience does not need to be distracted by other irrelevant windows and applications being recorded.
- do not record anything of a personal, sensitive or confidential nature; this includes e-mails. If you have e-mail alerts set to pop-up on your screen (or notifications from other social media or messaging services), displaying information about the sender and the subject of the email, please consider the subject and content might be of a private nature and the sender may have assumed, you will not disclose the content, let alone accidentally record it and share it more widely. Always switch off email alerts or close your email program before recording.
If you are producing video, depending upon the purpose and audience, you can usually be forgiven for some average-quality visuals and camerawork; audio on the other hand, should always be clear.
Depending upon the context and purpose of the recording, producing a basic script can be helpful. If you are recording your lecture, a script is unlikely to be necessary as no doubt you have prepared your lecture content and are making use of other prompts such as PowerPoint slides to assist you with your delivery. If you are recording at your desk, whether it is an interview, podcast or screen recording, having some form of script will ensure you successfully record the first time, remain focused and concise.
It is not always practical to fully script an interview in advance, but questions can be prepared and by sharing these with the interviewee before the recording, that provides them with time to prepare their responses; this can not only lead to a better recording session, but also can improve the quality of the interview as the interviewee has time to reflect and provide more complete responses.
Another significant benefit of producing a script is that is can be made available with your recording as a transcript to widen the accessibility of the recording.
Always assess the environment where a recording is going to take place and consider ambient sounds which may have a negative impact upon the recording and plan for those; for example, if you are recording at your desk, consider:
- silencing your phone
- muting your computer
- placing a “do not disturb – recording in progress” sign on your door
- minimising any other external sounds by closing windows
- checking your desk and workstation for squeaky equipment – this can include your chair; chairs with fixed legs can be quieter than sitting on a swivel desk chair
You may wish to add sound to your recording later. If you are recording activity on your screen or filming an experiment, sometimes it can be easier to narrate these activities once the recording is completed. The more experienced and confident you are at recording, you may find you can quickly and easily record everything in one go but as long as you have access to editing software, you can always tweak a recording, if needed.
If you are creating a podcast, you may wish to make use of music to brand your podcast series; this can be added at the editing stage. There is a lot of music freely available online, released under a Creative Commons license.
For most recording purposes, professional lighting equipment will not be necessary but that does not mean that you should not think about lighting, if you are recording video. Where possible, make use of natural (ambient) light and where necessary, make additional use of artificial light sources; these artificial light sources can include desk lamps and office/room lighting.
If you are recording a lecture or event within a central teaching space, do not attempt to capture both yourself (or another presenter) as well as the content projected onto a screen; for the purposes of the live event, both the presenter and projected supporting materials should be clearly visible to the audience in the room but as far as a recording is concerned, lighting should enable the presenter to be seen as the projected content such as PowerPoint slides can be packaged with the recording later.Recordings rarely succeed in capturing both the presenter and materials on a screen well.
Some lighting techniques:
- Lighting a subject only from the front (key light) can create noticeable shadows – the type of lighting commonly used within Film Noir
- Lighting a subject only from behind (back light) creates a silhouette
- Filler lights can be used to light a subject from the side and combined with other light sources, such as a key and back light, will brighten and flatten the subject, eliminating shadows.
Where possible always use light to minimise and soften shadows, complement the subject (e.g. lighting from above is usually more flattering than lighting from below) and if you are filming near a natural light source, the lighting techniques mentioned above still apply e.g. recording yourself or another subject in front of a window during day light is going to darken the subject and create a silhouette.
Rights and responsibilities
Always ensure you have the necessary permission to complete your recordings in advance; it may also be appropriate to conduct a risk assessment. Please refer to the Essentials section for further guidance.
Explore the various ways multimedia can be recorded by visiting the Tools section
You can attend workshops on the use of Lecture Capture for review, edit and publish. Please visit the Training and Support Pages. You can also access guidance on the IT website: Lecture capture and media management
Explore the various ways multimedia can be shared through University channels by visiting the Tools section
Created 13/02/14 by Kirsten Thompson | Last updated 09/03/18