Audio and Video Best Practices

Technical Tips

  • Test out your equipment before making your recordings for the project.
  • Make sure to charge batteries if necessary and clear enough digital storage space for the recording before the interview. The video cameras and audio recorders you check out from me should have nothing on them—you can clear the memory if they do.
  • Record audio as an Mp3 or WAV file.
  • Do a test recording in your recording location. Make sure you are getting adequate sound whether you are recording just sound or using a video camera. Make sure the light is adequate.
  • Use a tripod when recording most video or you will have an unsteady shot suitable for only a low-budget horror flick.
  • Make sure you can get the recording onto your computer and that the file will import into the audio or video editing software you will use.
  • Have a script and practice several times before recording. If you are doing a how-to video, write your script and then do a run-through. You will most likely discover things you need to explain that your forgot to include in your script.
  • Have someone work the camera for you if you need to be on camera. If you will need wide shots as well as close-ups, consider having two cameras and two helpers. One can get the closeups and the other can get the wide shots.
  • After recording, immediately import your audio and/or video file to your computer and make two backup copies, preferably on a thumb drive, CD, or on the cloud. Put the backups in a safe place. Never edit the only copy of the interview! Always keep an original, unedited copy of the interview in a safe place in case you need to start the editing process over. If you edit the only copy you have and lose a portion or all of the interview in the process, you will not be able to start over.
  • Every time you work on your project, do a “save-as” and save it as a new version. This way, if you make changes that you decide you do not want, you can simply go back to the previous version and not have to start from scratch with your original video or audio.
  • Every time you work on your project, be sure to back up your work on a thumb drive, CD, or on the cloud.

Style Tips

  • Use music strategically. Before adding music to your video or audio project, think about what rhetorical purpose it will serve. If you are adding it over someone speaking, why is that person’s words not sufficient to carry the message alone?
  • Remember your CRAP principles when using sound and video effects. If you use a different effect each time you have a transition, your audience will look for a reason behind the contrast and if there isn’t one they will be confused and possibly frustrated. Start by using one or two effects, and have a pattern to when and why you use them (repetition).
  • Use the rule of thirds when framing your video. Divide your frame into thirds from top to bottom and position head shots so that faces are in the top or middle third of the frame. You will usually want faces to be as close to the top of the frame as possible without cutting off the top of the head.
  • When you have multiple shots of the same thing (e.g., your hands demonstrating how to knead dough) try to frame each shot in the same way. For example, if you show your hands kneading dough, cut to your face talking about the process, then return to your hands, make sure your hands are both framed in the same way—same level of closeup, same angle, etc. Again, remember your CRAP principles. Best to have repetition in your shots unless you have a need to make a change such as you want to show your hands even closer in the second shot so viewers can see the texture of the dough better. The same applies to sound—keep your levels consistent and only increase or decrease the volume when you are doing so for a specific rhetorical reason.

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