Getting Started with Video Projects

There are many video editing tools out there, and you should use what you are most comfortable with. If you have no experience with video editing, this page includes tool recommendations and basic tips to help you get started.

Outlines, Scripts, and Planning #

It’s important to plan out your project before you begin the process of filming and editing. An outline can go a long way in figuring out the structure of your film or video, and a script allows actors to know what to say in advance. Finally, planning where, when, and how you want to film your project allows for a more organized creation process. A video project will take longer than you think it will, so plan to have all recording and prep work done well before the deadline of a project so you have time to edit it how you want.

If you need help with this part of your project, the Speaking and Writing Center is a great resource to help plan what you want to say and how to say it. Additionally, Peer Tutors can help with understanding material you might need for any kind of subject-specific project, and Simpson Library Research Help can assist with finding sources for your content.

Filming #

The DKC and the HCC have great spaces to book and equipment that can be checked out for video projects. If you need help with getting started, book an appointment with one of our student consultants.

Filming Tips #

  1. Film in a controlled, quiet environment. This is the best way to ensure you get a good recording that is not interrupted by random passers-by. The HCC Mini Studio is a great option for this.
  2. Record with a high-quality mic close to the subject. No amount of audio editing in post-production can save poorly-recorded audio. Check out an Audio Kit lapel mic from the HCC Info Desk if your camera needs to be far away from the person speaking.
  3. Test and play back before you film! This can save you a tremendous amount of time and headache. There is nothing worse than filming for 20 minutes and then realizing you didn’t record any sound and have to do it all over again. A ten-second test recording can save your life.
  4. Record more footage than you THINK you need. Let the camera run a bit before and after you start speaking, and do multiple takes even if you think you nailed it. It is always better to have extra footage that doesn’t get used than to start editing your video and realize you need to go back and rerecord.

Recording Resources #

  • Charnoff Production Studio – This space in HCC 115 requires training and includes a green screen, soundboard, and computers.
  • Mini Studio – The mini studio in HCC 131 is a quiet space reserved for filming smaller projects with lighting equipment and a green screen. Training not required, but you will have to bring your own camera and audio equipment.
  • Vocal Recording Booth – The Vocal Booth in HCC 116 does not require training. It includes a device connected to a computer that has a high-end webcam, condenser mic, and dimmable LED ring.
  • HCC Equipment CheckoutAudio Kits, Video Kits, and Tripod Kits can be checked out from the HCC Info Desk for all video recording needs. Professional grade equipment will enhance the production value of your project and allow you to make better content. The kits are available to all UMW students, faculty, and staff. No training required, but come to the DKC in HCC 408 if you need help getting started.
  • Learn more about what production spaces the DKC and the HCC have to offer.

Post-Production (Editing) #

Now that you have your video filmed, you can start editing!

Editing Tips #

  1. Use descriptive labels while editing. It might be easy to keep track of footage and files when working on a smaller project, but the more complex the video, the more important descriptive labels are. It is always better to get into the habit of using descriptive labels from the beginning.  
  2. Learn keyboard shortcuts for your software. Every video editing software has keyboard shortcuts for commonly used functions (play, trim, divide clip, etc.). These are extremely helpful while editing because they speed up the process tremendously.  
  3. Use consistent audio. Make sure to check your audio levels throughout the editing process. Nothing is more alarming than watching a video and being scared by a sudden jump in audio, or being annoyed by the volume changing often.
  4. Balance your audio properly. It’s easy to overpower your dialogue with background music or sounds effects that are just a little too loud. If you use background music, make sure it is much quieter than your dialogue. Here’s a good rule of thumb for audio levels in decibels (dB):
    • No audio level should ever exceed: 0 dB
    • Total audio mix level: -3 dB to -6 dB
    • Dialogue audio: -6 dB to -12 dB
    • Sound effects: -12 dB to -18 dB
    • Background music: -18 dB

Editing Tools #

Beginner-Friendly Tools #

These tools are easy to get started with but may lack some useful features the Advanced Tools have. Check out our DKC guides for these free tools:

  • Canva – Non-destructive video and audio editor.
  • iMovie Video editing software (Mac and iPad/iPhone only).
  • YouTube Studio – For making minor edits to videos you upload to YouTube.
  • Zoom – If you need to record yourself or a friend for a presentation, Zoom can be an easy-to-use option.

Advanced Tools #

These tools are some of the most powerful you can find for this type of project but may be overwhelming for a beginner. Some of these tools require purchase or subscription. Check out our guides to find out more:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro – Footage, audio, and graphics editor (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription).
  • Adobe After Effects – Video creator for animation, motion graphics, and more (Available through AppsAnywhere and HCC lab computers or with a paid subscription).
  • DaVinci Resolve – Video editor with visual and audio affects.
  • OpenShot – Easier to use video editing software.

Accessibility Considerations #

  • Include closed captions.
  • If you are using an auto-caption service (like YouTube) go back and clean up the captions after they are generated.
  • Describe visual elements verbally. 
  • Share a transcript (a document containing all spoken text in the video) along with your video.
  • When recording, place a microphone close to the speaker so you can record clean audio.
  • When recording, place lighting in front of the subject so they can be clearly seen.
  • When recording, avoid intense backlight that can make it hard for your subject to be seen.
  • Include flash and strobe warnings when necessary.
  • Make sure any graphics and text have high contrast with the background (use white text if the background is dark, for example).
  • See our Accessible Video guide for more info.

Want More Help? #

Updated by Haley Gosman 02/23/24