The start of this quarter found me recording a new set of introduction videos for my online classes. I wish I would have read this web article out of Kent State University before doing so! I could have saved myself a take or two (there were a few!). There may be a redo in my future. Here, I’ll share the tips that Kent State has to offer in their article titled How to Create Instructor and Course Introduction Videos. While doing so, I’ll add in a few comments of my own.
Step 1: Decide if you are going to reuse/repurpose this video for every course you teach or if this is a one-off production. You can choose to start off every term with a brand new video, maybe making reference to the size of the class or something particular going on in the world (I bet a lot of intro videos were updated as the global pandemic came into our collective pictures). But you might also consider using one that could be used from term to term, maybe being updated every few years or so. I decided to go this route. I do teach two courses for this school, so I made one for each course, but I do plan on using them again next quarter and maybe a time or two more before I update. The Kent State article recommends being as broad as possible to aid in repurposing, especially if you teach multiple courses. I see the logic in that.
Step 2: Create a Speaking Outline. Decide what you want to say and organize your thinking so that your video remains in the 3-5 minute mark. I didn’t do this (at first) and was surprised how quickly time passes when you are recording! Something that felt like 3 minutes to me was pushing past the 5 minute mark. An outline helped.
Step 3: Now, write a script. While we don’t want to appear to be reading to our audience, having a written out script is important. It not only keeps us on track, but to accommodate and be inclusive of all students, video material must have an accompanying text transcript. You’ll want to rehearse so that you aren’t reading to your audience, but are instead talking to them.
Step 4: Set up a webcam. These aren’t as hard to come by as they used to be – with video recording devices being pre-installed on a lot of laptops and smart phones these days. And in our post-COVID world many of us has had to acquire this technology to interact with our students, workplaces, and families. But if you don’t have some kind of recording device, preferably one that makes uploading to the internet a simple process, you will need to get or borrow one. The article gives some great advice on how to best position yourself in front of the camera. I’ll also suggest to keep this camera completely stable (do not ask someone to hold it or do a “selfie” video).
Step 5: Consider and set up lighting. I prefer natural light and in my video I was lit by a huge window on a sunny day. This seemed fine to me, but this is not always feasible or be the look you are going for. See…I hadn’t read this article yet! Because it details how to best set up your lighting using a three point lighting technique – a key light, a fill light, and a back light.
Step 6: Ready the recording environment. We’ve been watching webcam presentations for months now and have come to know the bookcase as the standard academic’s backdrop. But, above and beyond that, what do we need to know to set up a great, professional recording environment? Some advice here – limit distractions/house noises (i.e. children, pets, lawn equipment) and choose a neutral backdrop (avoid a busy wallpaper pattern that your shirt might clash with and, if you are going to go the book case route, make sure it is nice and organized – in other words, not a mess!).
Step 7: Lights, camera, action! Remember to use your speaking voice, not your reading voice and consider using a “pop filter” (a screen that separates you from the microphone to soften hard “p’s”or “t’s.” Relax, have your script ready and remember to save! You don’t have to get it perfect the first time, you can do a few takes, but remember to save the one you want. Your school should have some direction for you for how to best upload this file to the school’s LMS.
Enjoy making your videos! What has been your experience creating these types of videos? Please comment below and share!