Students – how to create a video

See the page Creating multimedia assignments for advice about planning your project.

Video editing software

Creating and editing video is now a relatively easy task, and you probably have a phone which will enable you to create quite sophisticated videos:

Android phones – Android authority has a 2020 list of the best free and low-cost apps.

iPhones – Beeboom has a 2020 list of the best free apps.

You may choose to go for an easy-to-use option rather than a more complicated app with lots more functions. The choice is yours.

If you prefer to edit video on the bigger screen of your PC or laptop, this 2020 article from PC Magazine and this 2020 article from Digital Trends lists both free and paid-for programs for both Windows and Apple Mac computers.

How do I learn to use the software?

The only way to learn is to actually use the software to edit a video. Start by using the online help (web pages and/or videos) to quickly learn the basics. Maybe there are some good YouTube tutorials as well. But the key thing is to make one or more short practice videos to learn how the software works. Here are the key editing tasks you’ll need to learn:

  • Split a shot into two or more parts
  • Trim the start and end of a shot
  • Delete an unwanted sentence from the middle of a shot
  • Assemble three trimmed shots into the correct order
  • Add transition effects between each shot
  • Add a title at the start of the video
  • Add some music to the title
  • Export the finished video as an MP4 file

Once you are confident with these basic skills, you can be more ambitious and develop your editing skills. You’ve seen lots of TV and YouTube videos, so you already know how cutting between actors, wide shots and camera movement can be used to give pace and feeling to a video. Practice may not make perfect, but it will definitely make your videos much better. Be critical of your work and learn from mistakes, but also be pleased that your latest video is as good as you can make it with your current skills.

How do I shoot good video?

When you shoot the three short video shots to practice with, focus on the technical aspects and don’t worry about the actual content:

  • If you are using your phone, hold it horizontal! Be professional and don’t shoot vertical video for assignments.
  • Is the lighting OK? Can you clearly see people’s faces? Try not to shoot people who are back-lit (e.g. with the sun or a window behind them) or facing strong sunlight, so they squint.
  • Is the sound clear? Avoid recording people in noisy environments unless you can use a tie-clip microphone. It helps to get close to them.
  • Keep the camera (phone) steady and don’t wave it around. If you want to move it, move it smoothly and fairly slowly. I recommend using a tripod if available – and there are plenty of DIY solutions to keeping your phone steady.

The web has plenty of advice about shooting good video, so make sure you spend an hour or so Googling around to pick up some pro tips, like this simple guide to how to shoot video interviews and this one which compares ‘straight to camera’ to ‘documentary style interviews’.