Video Basics

Video Basics

Making video is a four step process:



  • What is the idea you’re trying to get across?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What do you want the audience to see and hear and in what order?
    • This is where you write a script, or at least make an outline, and draw a storyboard if necessary.
    • sketchsketch
  • Where and when can you shoot?
  • What equipment (camera, tripod, microphone, lights), props, and people (on-camera talent, camera operator) do you need?
  • How will you get the footage off the camera and onto the editing computer?
    • There are several video recording formats, not all of which are compatible with all computers and editing software. For example:
      • Some cameras record on MiniDV tape - which only captures over a firewire port – which not all computers have. There are Express 34 cards that can be installed in some laptops to provide a firewire port. Most MiniDV cameras record in standard definition (720x480 pixels) but some can record in a high definition format (HDV 1280x720 pixels).
      • Some cameras record on SD cards. Sometimes they record in .mov file format, or .mp4 file format – which can usually just be dragged off the card and onto the computer, or in AVCHD format – which is actually a .mts file format which cannot just be dragged onto the computer – you must drag the entire AVCHD folder to the computer, or import from the camera or SD card from within the editing software. To be safe you should shoot a minute of test footage using the camera and make sure you can get it onto the computer and into your editing software before you proceed.

  • Are you shooting in order, or out of sequence.
    • If you shoot out of sequence you need a system to keep track of what’s been shot and which take was the best. Checkmarks on a script or outline are usually good enough.
  • How will you get good sound?
    • Sometimes the on-camera microphone is good enough, sometimes you need to plug in an external mic (and headphones to make sure the mic is working).
  • Do you need additional lighting?

  • What software will you use to edit?
    • Movie Maker on a Windows computer or iMovie on a Mac are good starting points. Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro have more sophisticated features.
  • On what computer?
    • Can you get the footage off the camera and onto this computer?
  • Do you need to create titles, graphics, animation?
    • Can you do this within the editing software or do you need to use some other program?
  • Do you want to add music?

  • In what format do you need to export the finished product so you can get it to your audience?
  • For example:
    • YouTube specs for standard definition video upload are:
      • Video: .mp4 format using the H.264 codec, 480x360p resolution at 1000kbps
      • Audio: AAC format at 48khz at 128kbps
    • YouTube specs for high definition video upload are:
      • Video: .mp4 format using the H.264 codec, 1280x720p resolution at 5000kbps
      • Audio:  AAC format at 48khz at 384kbps
    • to external site
  • Fortunately most editing software has export presets you can choose from. In the newest version of Movie Maker, when you go to save your movie, there’s a YouTube option under Website settings.


Shoot 1 minute of footage, get it onto a computer, and export it in a suitable file format for uploading to YouTube.