Planning your video project

This advice focuses on videos that are more than simply talking into a webcam, narrating some slides or using your phone to record an unscripted conversation or capture a moment. It is about videos aim for semi-professional production values and that will usually involve a videographer as well as the person speaking.

What are you trying to achieve?

This is the most important question that you need to answer, so be sure that you know exactly what the point of the video is.

  • What are you trying to convey?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Is it simply a talking head?
  • Are conversations or interviews required?
  • Are location shots required?
  • Are simple graphics required?
  • Are motion graphics required?
  • Are there any corporate guidelines that need to be followed?

Your answer should obviously take account of any constraints:

  • Is there a deadline this needs to be completed by?
  • How much time are you able or willing to put into this?
  • Do you have the technical skills and resources required?
  • Is this a solo effort or a collaborative project?
  • Is there a production budget?

Creating a video should be treated as a project where careful planning will save time in the long run. For example, writing a script and practicing what you will say will minimise the need for multiple ‘takes’ and detailed editing. Developing a storyboard will avoid the delays and additional effort required to fix things if you discover you missed an essential shot.

Developing the script

There are three approaches to the script:

  1. The videographer or interviewer can ask you pre-prepared questions, and your answers will be edited to fit the video’s requirements. This approach requires lots of editing.
  2. If you can confidently speak about the subject and have practiced a few times, you can record straight to camera using mininimal notes.
  3. In general, it is better to write a script and practice using that, even if you just refer to notes when recording.

A written script has these advantages:

  • It ensures that all the important information is covered.
  • It can help control the tone of a piece.
  • It will assist you in practising your performance.  A practised performance not only makes filming easier but smooths the editing process as well.
  • Practice will help you manage the length of the piece e.g. if it is too long then can you edit the script to make it shorter?
  • It can be used to add captions to the video so it is accessible to all viewers.

Writing copy to be read is a different skill to writing copy to be spoken. Remember that you will have to actually say these words out loud, so be sure to pay particular attention to your sentence structure, use of words and length of sentences. Make life easy for yourself by not putting any tongue twisters in. Practice will reveal any parts that are hard to say and allow you to rephrase them.

TOP TIPYou must practice out loud – don’t just read the words or say them quietly. Speak them with feeling and imagine you are talking to an audience. Pay attention to pace, emphasis and pauses.

Developing a storyboard

For any video that involves multiple shots or that includes graphics you should develop a storyboard: a series of rough sketches that show the sequence of shots. It offers these advantages:

  • It helps you plan any location shooting.
  • It acts as a checklist for any graphics required.
  • It allows you to plan the visual language and pacing of the video.

Think how ‘informational’ videos such as news items or documentaries use a mix of talking heads, location shots, still images and graphics to “tell a story”.

TOPTIPWriting the script and developing the storyboard are usually two parts of one activity.

Being filmed

Please think about what you will wear on the day of filming, taking into account the points below.

  1. Avoid wearing white or black. You generally lose the details and can make getting the correct exposure more difficult.
  2. Avoid wearing pinstripes, checks or small intricate designs as they may appear to “crawl” on screen. Large patterns are less problematic.
  3. Avoid wearing anything overly bold or outlandish in colour but still keep your personality. If you normally wear a loud coloured tie to work maybe try for a single block colour as opposed to that psychedelic rainbow paisley that you like so much.
  4. You may have to have a clip-on microphone attached to you. Generally, this is very easy for men as a dress shirt/jacket normally has plenty of places to clip one. Women’s attire is often more problematic so please take a moment to consider where the microphone may be placed on you.


This is one of the hardest challenges when filming. The majority of the offices in Aston are narrow and therefore usually have the subject backlit by the window. The whitewashed walls can look very stark and the acoustics are awful.

If possible, choose a location where there is a plain coloured wall or floor-to-ceiling book shelf that could be used as background. Please also take a moment to consider if the room is next to a toilet, lift shaft or other heavy plant machinery room; we often don’t notice those sounds but they will appear as a very loud and intrusive background noise when filming in such a location.

You can shoot using outdoor locations, but these bring their own challenges: the light, wind, other weather factors and passing traffic. Any outside location should not be relied on as there are so many factors relating to suitability.


PowerPoint can be used to create both still and animated graphics. You must ensure that the aspect ratio of the slides matches that of the video (typically widescreen 16:9) and that they are exported as either still images (PNG format) or video (MP4) at the correct HD resolution (1980×720). Video editing software will be required to combine these with live footage.

Legal issues

You must have copyright clearance for any images you include; you cannot simply include images you have found on the web.

You should get signed permission from everyone who is filmed e.g. students, academic colleagues and industry contacts.

If shooting off-campus you may also need permission to shoot ‘on location’ e.g. in a shopping centre, factory or historic site.

Technical aspects of filming and editing

There is a separate page with technical advice.