Moving images have long provided an opportunity for people to experience a place, a person, or an idea outside their day-to-day reality. Today, video is ubiquitous and an important part of any communications strategy. It grabs people’s attention. It brings a story to life. It builds excitement and illuminates various points of view. When done well, even the simplest video can evoke a feeling or convey a message in a meaningful and memorable way.
At NYU, video plays a key role in communications by bringing a fuller understanding of the NYU story in all its many facets to a variety of audiences. Whether aspirational, informative, or nostalgic, videography brings NYU people closer together through a shared understanding. The following guidelines, created by NYU Media Production, offer some practical tips on video production and ways to successfully unite moving images, the human voice, music, motion graphics, and natural sound.
- A-Roll: Interview recording
- Animation/Motion Graphics: Video content primarily created with computer software
- B-Roll: Footage, stills, and other visuals to accompany a video narrative
- Closed Captions: Captions that can be toggled on and off of a video
- Final Edit: A finished video
- Handheld: Footage that is shot without a tripod or stabilizer
- Interview: A recorded conversation between an interviewer and interviewee(s) for specific use on a project
- Lower Thirds: The descriptive text on a video that introduces people as they appear in an interview (usually their name[s] and title[s] as it relates to the video)
- Music Bed: A track without lyrics used to add ambience or emotion to a video
- Open Captions: Captions that are always visible on a video
- Postproduction: Editing, animating, color correcting, and sound mixing a video into the final piece
- Preinterview: An unrecorded informal chat to screen potential interviewees for a project
- Preproduction: The planning that occurs before shooting and editing a video
- Production: Shooting and animating a video
- Radio Edit: A video edit of sound bites that makes up the script (without any B-roll added)
- Rough Cut: A video edit in progress (i.e., it is still being worked on)
- Tripod: A camera stand
- Video Specs: The specific shooting format of footage or export format of an edit (different platforms require different specs, so a project may have multiple specs to adhere to)
Extreme Wide Shot/Extreme Long Shot: A shot that shows the larger environment. The subject of the story may or may not be in the frame but if they were, they would not be immediately noticeable. Not suitable for an interview, but suitable for an establishing shot to give the viewer a sense of space.
Wide Shot/Long Shot: A wide shot (also referred to as a long shot) shows the subject in their entirety. For a person, this means showing their entire body within the frame, though they do not necessarily need to fill the entire frame. The focus is more on the environment, or the subject within the context of the environment. Suitable for B-roll, but not suitable for interviews.
Medium Long Shot: A medium long shot typically frames the subject from the knees up. Not recommended for interviews, but can be used to great effect for hero shots and certain types of B-roll.
Medium Shot: A medium shot typically frames the subject from about the waist up. This type of shot is common for both interviews and B-roll, as it focuses on the individual (or individuals, as might be the case in B-roll), while still showcasing the environment they’re in.
Medium Close-Up: A shot in which the subject is filmed from the chest or shoulders up. Suitable for interviews in which there is less of a focus on the backdrop, but it does not allow for as much flexibility in the edit.
Close-Up: A shot in which the focus is on part of the subject, such as their face or hands. Can be suitable for showcasing emotion during a documentary-style piece, but not suitable for most types of interviews. Good for B-roll that aims to call attention to certain aspects of the subject (e.g., detail shots of objects during an instructional video).
Extreme Close-Up: Shows a very close detail shot of a subject. Suitable for B-roll in which greater attention needs to be called to a subject or object. Not suitable for interviews.
The typical video workflow involves three main creative stages: preproduction, production, and postproduction. A fourth stage, project wrap-up, may be added.
The planning stage before any shooting takes place. This includes:
- Researching content and technology
- Shaping the practical and creative parameters of the project
- Identifying the project’s goals and target audience
- Determining the running time (videos for social media can be as short as 30 seconds or up to a few minutes, depending on the platform. Videos for events and presentations can run from three to 10 minutes, depending on the situation)
- Writing of a story treatment, script, or outline
- Selecting, inviting, and possibly preinterviewing individuals
- Finalizing budgets and schedules
- Creating a shot list
- Hiring collaborators
- Exploring locations
- Assessing specific setups and determining backgrounds
The stage where everything is recorded. This includes:
- Shooting all footage
- Recording any music and additional sound
- Creating all graphics, motion graphics, and additional elements
- Gathering additional materials for the edit
The stage where the video is edited into a finished piece. This includes:
- The addition of titles, motion graphics, color correction, sound mixing, and more
- Setting up a schedule for review with time to address feedback through further editing
- The exportation and delivery of the final video file once all necessary parties approve it
The stage where the video project is organized and properly archived. Copies are often given to the appropriate stakeholders. Depending on the project, this stage may also include a project debrief for all involved.
Shooting a Sit-Down Interview
- Choose a quiet, well-lit location.
- Be sure to use a tripod for your camera(s).
- Use more than one camera to shoot an interview to help with editing.
- Have one camera framed as a wide shot and the other as a medium shot.
- Have the interviewee(s) sit on a nonswiveling chair.
- Use a three-point lighting setup. If unfamiliar with three-point lighting, simply position the brightest light (this could be from a window) so it is shining on the face(s) of the interviewee(s) (and not facing the camera lens).
- Avoid distracting backgrounds that may shift attention from the interviewee(s).
- Use a lavalier mic or boom mic if possible.
- Try to shoot back-up audio as well so editors have more than one audio source.
- After the interview, record “room tone” (i.e., one minute of silence in the room you recorded in so editors can use it to smooth out audio).
Shooting a Walk and Talk (e.g., on a city street)
- Keep your subject(s) in your frame as much as possible.
- Avoid including other people, who have not agreed to be in the video, in your shot to avoid dealing with more release forms.
- Try to shoot with the light behind you.
- Be aware of your surroundings as you shoot.
- Use earphones to make sure you capture the audio as you’d like to.
- Get a variety of wide shots, medium shots, and close-up shots.
- Keep everything stable. If there is movement, capture it smoothly.
- Smooth tilts and pans are very useful. It is best to do them a few times for variety.
- Stop and start the recording a few seconds before and a few seconds after you do any movement.
- Make sure you have what you need to create the video piece (e.g., all footage, graphics).
- Be sure to have a digital backup of your content before diving into the project.
- Organize your content so it is easy to find different elements as you edit it.
- Duplicate and save your editing file often.
Narrative Video Projects
- Before opening your editing program, create a rough outline of the video narrative.
- If a video piece incorporates a lot of interviews, have transcripts made and use them to create a script.
- Use the script to create a radio edit to get a sense of the video’s flow.
- Once the radio edit has a good pace, move forward to create a rough cut.
- Review the rough cut to determine if your edit needs more content and further adjustments.
Music-Driven Video Projects
- Create your final (or close to final) music bed before laying in video and other elements.
- Make sure you have copyright clearance to use the music for your purposes or choose copyright-cleared music.
- Tell a complete and compelling story as concisely as possible (in general, storytelling web videos should be approximately three minutes or less)
- Be consistent in style, tone, and message
- Follow the university brand standards and visual identity guidelines
- Record clear, understandable audio
- Meet the NYU Website Accessibility Policy standard for video captioning
- Close with the appropriate NYU logo or lockup
- Aspect Ratio: 16-to-9 is the recommended aspect ratio. Some social platforms may require different aspect ratios. Consider how you will use your footage before you film it.
- Video Format: QuickTime (.mov) and MPEG (.mp4) are the preferred file types to upload to most online platforms.
- Resolution: Ideally, film footage at 4K to ensure flexibility when editing, but 1080p (high definition) is also acceptable. Export video at high definition or higher.
Accessibility: Closed Captioning
NYU is legally required to make all our digital resources accessible. This includes ensuring that our videos work for people with visual and hearing impairments.
Closed captioning is an on-screen/visual transcription of the video’s audio portion. Many video platforms, such as YouTube, offer automatic captioning, but this can often have errors, especially when the audio quality is low. It’s important to check and edit automatic captioning or have a professional service transcribe your video. For additional resources, please refer to Digital Accessibility’s How-to Guide for Captions.
Readability is important. To ensure people can easily read words on-screen, keep the variety of devices people may use in mind. Many people consume video on mobile devices, so always test your videos on a smartphone and adjust the caption size accordingly.
A lower third is a graphic overlay that introduces and identifies a subject featured in a video. It includes the individual’s name(s) and title(s) in a title-safe area of the screen.
The lower third should be included on the subject’s first speaking appearance. Exceptions include:
- If the first scene of the interviewee is less than two seconds, wait until the next longer clip to introduce the subject in order to give the viewer enough time to read and process the name(s) and title(s).
- If the first scene is a close-up, wait to place the lower third on a medium or wide shot.
Identifying Subjects Plain Text
Subject (Scott Harrison) is on the right side of the frame; lower third text is on the bottom-left side.
- Line 1: Scott Harrison CAS ’98
- Line 2: Founder, CEO
- Line 3: charity:water
Identifying subjects in a video is important to provide context and credibility. Given space and legibility constraints, it is best to keep the title descriptor concise. If a faculty member holds multiple titles, use the one that is most relevant to the video. When identifying students, omit their last name(s) in order to maintain their privacy.
Always identify the interviewee in the following order:
Line 1: Name (alumni designation[s]) or Name (NYU School ’XX)
Line 2+: Title, Organization
Placement Plain Text
Subject (Ken Kidd) is on the left side of the frame; lower third text is on the bottom-right side. Text does not interfere with Kidd and is far enough away from the bottom of the frame to allow for closed captioning.
- Line 1: Ken Kidd
- Line 2: Director, Special Projects and Events
- Line 3: College of Arts and Science, NYU
The lower third can be placed on the left or right side of the frame, depending on which has the most empty space. When possible, place in-line with or below the shoulder of the subject and include consistent padding between the text and background bar. Make sure the placement does not interfere with the shot. Avoid obstructing important information and covering the interview subject.
Make room for closed captioning by placing the lower third—and any other text—high enough on the screen. As a general rule, keep the bottom eighth of the screen clear, but it’s important to always test the video with captions.
Examples of Lower Third Treatments
Ending a Video
Use end credits to acknowledge others involved in the production of the video, including partners and sponsors. They should appear after the main content is finished and before the closing slide. It may be appropriate to use end credits for videos that include:
- Science research footage provided by students, faculty, and/or other institutions
- Unlicensed music that has permission of use at no charge or requires attribution
- Sponsorships/partnerships—for instance, when an organization outside of your department or school was a partner for the content
The recommended closing slide features the widely recognized NYU logo expression. Using a unit lockup is also acceptable, provided they are consistent with overarching NYU brand guidelines.
In most cases, use a simple dissolve or fade-out transition to introduce the logo or lockup. However, if the video has a fast, upbeat tone, a transition is not needed. In either case, the ending transition should fit with the tone of the video. Avoid animating the logo or lockup in order to maintain consistency across all videos.
There are many free or reduced-cost NYU resources available to help you create video projects. Before spending money on a shoot, consider these sources—they may have what you need:
- The NYU Media Production team’s free B-roll collection (request access for record-keeping purposes)
- The NYU Photo Bureau’s stock image photo bank
- Resources from the Office of Marketing Communications
You can also hire the NYU Media Production team to help with your projects in their entirety, or you can use them as a resource for projects in the preproduction phase.
External Resources for Video Projects
If NYU’s media teams don’t have what you need, we recommend these external resources:
- APM offers a wealth of options, but prices tend to be on the higher side. Licensing costs are typically determined using the “needle drop” system.
- Artlist is a subscription-based music service. While prices are low and the selection is good, the subscription is yearly as opposed to month to month.
- AudioJungle offers a robust selection and low prices. Songs can be purchased individually, with no subscription required.
- Pond5 has songs for individual purchase, though some have noted their selection is not as robust as other sites.
- Envato Elements has a great selection of graphic templates (including transitions, lower third templates, and slideshow templates) to help add pizzazz to videos for a low price. It is related to AudioJungle, so if you have an active subscription, you can download as many assets as you want. Subscriptions are available on a month-to-month or annual basis.
What Is a Media Release Form?
A media release is a form that legally protects the participants involved in a media project. It ensures the consent of the person signing the agreement to use their likeness in the manner expressed within the media release. It also allows the person or department providing the release to clearly express how they plan to use the media created.