Video Development Technologies

Choose the best options for filming, editing and producing your videos

The information provided below was gathered during the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education It is not an exhaustive list, but rather a brief review/summary with some recommendations and tips for using various kinds of technology when producing educational videos.

Filming your video

Common problems can be avoided by careful preparation. Plan ahead!

  • Prepare your film location
    • Take time to set up your location so you have everything you need on hand
    • Gather and prepare your props
    • Listen for and avoid distracting ambient noise, like traffic or HVAC
    • Check on your lighting and ensure it's sufficient. If not, consider adding white reflectors to improve it
    • Check your background and ensure it's not distracting
  • Prepare your cameras
    • Clean camera lenses
    • Have working microphones/headset
    • Ensure batteries are charged for all technology
    • If one camera, can you capture the speaker/action from one location? Are you prepared to try different camera angles?
    • If two cameras, how does the second, B-roll camera add interesting shots to the "A roll" camera? Make sure to coordinate zooms if a second camera person is used
    • Use a tripod for stability; avoid distracting shakiness
    • Move camera to positions over folks' shoulders
    • Don't pan or zoom too much
    • Learn how to frame through the lens. Apply the Rule of thirds
    • Ensure you are in auto focus if you aren't skilled at focusing
  • Prepare your actors
    • Stick to the script; be very familiar with the material
    • Practice recording your voice
    • Reduce random crackle & pop sounds, uhs, speech habits
    • Watch the wave form and learn how to keep your volume modulated, so your voice doesn't get too soft it can't be heard or so loud it blows out the wave form
    • Keep your voice clear by sipping water or sucking on green apple slice (dries the mouth while hydrating vocal chords)
    • Put energy and enthusiasm in your voice, while being careful of not becoming overly animated
    • Be unabashedly excited

Choosing the right equipment

Filming can be done with a wide range of video cameras including: Google Glass, Cell Phones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Underwater Vehicles (manned or unmanned), built-in webcams or USB video cameras, point-and-shoot cameras (such as GoPro Hero 1/2/3), Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLRs), and video recorders (camcorders). Remember --- each of these options has its pros and cons.

General DSLR review, March 2014

  • Manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, etc.
  • Connectivity: Some models are wi-fi capable
  • Cost: Low compared to dedicated HD camcorders
  • Ease of Use: Easy
  • Recommended Uses: Filming short video clips or subjects where greater control over depth of field is required.
  • Advantages:
    • Wide variety of lens options, higher quality picture than webcams.
    • Resolution is sufficient for all but the most advanced needs.
    • Many people already have one.
    • Portable; can easily be taken into the field to record video.
    • Allows creation of time-lapse video.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Built in microphone is usually of poor quality, may require external mic for recording good sound (important for lectures, etc.).
    • Overall control of audio recording usually limited.
    • Some models have a maximum record time of 30-60 mins.
    • Not designed ergonomically for steady video capture.
    • Difficult to zoom smoothly.

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Capturing audio

Some things are better seen & not heard


Even in an enclosed room, wind, air, and camera-movement can distract from the speaker. We are used to tuning out ambient noise, but if you put on ear phones, you quickly realize home much noise is in the environment. And it gets amplified in sound recordings that don't discriminate.

Some things to consider:

  • External microphones are excellent for inside. Directional mics are also good for indoor recording.
  • A muffler on the microphone stops the buffeting sound. Foam covers are good enough for inside, though the more-expensive faux-fur covers are the best.
  • A wind shield or screen can go a long way towards reducing background noise. A windscreen is simply some kind of acoustic-foam used to minimize abrasive sounds, while allowing the desired audio to record. Egg-shell foam camping pads work well to build yourself a decent "fort" to surround your recording equipment.
  • Strange sounds your mouth makes can be very distracting. Professional speakers have to train to learn how to eliminate odd sounds that are involuntarily emitted.
    • Audacity is a free software that lets you practice speaking while watching an audio timeline to see where your voice has audio spikes.
    • Microphone covers help lower the chance that the mic will pick up the "popping sounds" of your voice while speaking.


Wind is the greatest challenge to high-quality audio outside. The trouble with the wind is that it doesn't end up sounding like wind, but becomes an abrasive, popping, and screeching sound that's difficult to listen to.

  • Omni-directional mics are much more resistant to wind than directional mics. Directional mics pick up the annoying buffeting sound that overwhelms conversation.
  • Fur - not foam - for wind muffling. Foam mic shields are useless for outdoors unless there's very little wind. You need the furry ones that look like animal puppets. The most affordable ones are called "dead cats." They are not cheap, but you can sew a faux-fur cover of your own, or, if you have a directional mic, you can buy a $7 seat-belt pad with a velcro to wrap the mic.
  • A wind shield or screen is a great way to reduce wind noise. A field version can be as simple as duct tape and a cardboard sheet.
  • Gauze for pinhole mics on digital cameras. To prevent wind noise, tape the gauze padding of an adhesive bandage over the camera's mic.
  • Film with a headset to emphasize ambient noise. We are good at tuning out white noise, but using a headset will ensure the you hear everything.
  • Disconnect the video from the audio. You can always do a narration voice over, but make sure your subject isn't talking. Trying to synch audio after the fact is extremely difficult.


  • Climb in the closet. To reduce that tinny echo when recording yourself, record the audio in a room with abundant fabric to absorb sound (bedroom, closet). Or create your own "sound proofing" by building a small "fort" around your computer with egg-foam sleeping pads. An office with many hard reflective surfaces is the worst. The bigger the room the more echo you will get.
  • Make sure the mic works. Look for switches on your camera. On digital cameras, check the manual to be sure you understand what Mic, Line-in and Line-out mean.
  • Check your computer ports. A mic that works on one computer may not work on another. Many microphones and other accessory products will draw power from a USB port, but not every port on your computer will allow the accessory to draw the same amount of power. Try a different port or purchase external ports, and make sure your audio peripherals are compatible before you buy.

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Capturing a screen

One effective way to "film" video is through a capture of your computer screen. You can capture a presentation with slides; a narrated how-to as you move through the use of a particular computer software product, website, assignment or other screen-projected image or animation; or you can capture a drawing you make on the screen. A mouse tablet will help with all of these types of screen capture, as it more easily allows you to draw on slides or the screen. Bamboo Tablets are one of the most commonly used writing tablets. They come with their own software, as do many other currently available tablets.

Get started

One of the biggest challenges with screen capture software is ensuring your audio and video stay synched. One way to overcome this challenge is to lay down separate audio and video tracks in your video editing software later. Or just be aware ahead of time that this is an issue and test for it in your software.

Before starting your recording, close all non-essential software programs and clear your toolbars. You don't want to accidentally capture something you didn't want students to see.

Choosing the right software

These software reviews were provided by participants at the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education.


  • Platform: iOS (app for iPad)
  • Cost: free
  • Manufacturer: MixPanel Mobile Analytics
  • Ease of Use: Easy
  • Recommended Uses: Recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce video lessons that you can share online. You can write on figures and pictures and animate them as you record. You can also have students create recordings and share them with the instructor
  • Disadvantages:
  • Link to Tutorials:
  • More examples can be found from the product home page
  • Other: there is an online version, if you do not have an iPad.


  • Platform: Mac (can be found in app store), Win XP, Vista and 7
  • Cost: $19.99
  • Manufacturer: Eye Power Games
  • Ease of Use: Easy
  • Recommended Uses: screen capture and video lectures (can use webcam)
  • Disadvantages: crashes sometimes if recording over 40 minutes; have to upload and edit through YouTube or other software such as iMovie; can no longer use writing features in Keynote but they work in PowerPoint
  • Link to Tutorials: download user guide
  • Example: Divergent boundaries lecture shows using white board and sketching on screen.
  • Other: 15 day free trial from website


  • Platform: Mac, Win
  • Cost: free
  • Manufacturer: TechSmith
  • Ease of Use: Easy
  • Recommended Uses: screen shot, short demo video
  • Disadvantages: no webcam, editing, screenwriting, 3 minute max time, must upload to and then share link
  • Link to Tutorials: Tech Smith Tutorials
  • Example: Overview video can be found here

PowerPoint Audio Capture

  • Platform: Windows, Mac OS
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Cost: included in PowerPoint
  • Ease of Use: Very easy (if familiar with PowerPoint)
  • Recommended Uses: Very quick way to record narrated PowerPoint programs and export to a video. Requires no additional software and no camera or webcam is needed, only a microphone. Great for videos that don't have a live action component.
  • Disadvantages: Options for animation are limited to those available in PowerPoint. No ability to composite existing video segments; function only allows the user to export a narrated PowerPoint as a video. Max video resolution is 960x720 and can only be exported as a .wmv file.
  • Link to Tutorials: Using Audio Capture in MS PowerPoint (series of step-by-step tutorials)


  • Platform: Mac, Win, Chrome
  • Cost: $29.95 education pricing
  • Manufacturer: TechSmith
  • Ease of Use: Easy
  • Recommended Uses: screen/lecture capture, screenshot
  • Disadvantages: no webcam, editing, screenwriting tools while recording
  • Link to Tutorials: Tech Smith Tutorials
  • Example: Short demo
  • Other: 15 day free trial with an option for an additional 15 days

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Video editing

The biggest initial challenge for many people is making sure their camera and their editing software are compatible. The good news is, there are many software options to choose from.

Another challenge is that some cameras (especially iPhones and iPads) shoot such high-resolution video that the editing software doesn't have enough memory to hold it. One solution to this problem is to open the file and immediately export it at a lower resolution. Another option is to play back the file without editing, and use a screen capture software to create a lower-resolution version; one drawback is that this may reduce the resolution more than you want.

Software types and choices

Single-layer editing software can combine audio and video clips on a single timeline, moving them around in order, and clipping them as desired; you can also add text, but you cannot have multiple images or video showing on the screen at the same time or multiple sounds. You also cannot create animations.


  • Apple iMovie
  • Windows:Live Movie Maker
  • YouTube Editor
  • Google+ Hangouts
  • Quicktime
  • Quicktime Pro
  • Wirecast
  • Tegrity from McGraw-Hill (works with Blackboard)

Multi-layer editing software can combine multiple clips along a timeline, overlaying them atop one another, and adding other features such as labels, titles, animations, and multiple sound tracks.


  • TechSmith Camtasia
  • Crazy Talk Animator
  • Toon Boom Studio
  • 2D Smith-Micro's Anime Studio
  • 3D Cheetah
  • Adobe AfterEffects
  • Flash
  • GoAnimate
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Adobe Premier

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Choosing the right software

These software reviews were provided by participants at the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education.

Adobe AfterEffects

  • Platform: Windows, Mac OS
  • Cost: $20/mo through Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Manufacturer: Adobe
  • Ease of Use: Somewhat difficult
  • Recommended Uses: Advanced video editing, appropriate for more complex video effects or videos with animation. Videos with large numbers of frames (10,000+) such as long duration time-lapse videos. Few things that can not be done with this program.
  • Disadvantages: Steeper learning curve than most programs (although easier if you are familiar with other video editing software), requires at least 4GB of RAM to render videos at an acceptable speed, expensive. Overkill for simple video editing and compositing.
  • Link to Tutorials: Time-lapse in AfterEffects
  • Other: included in Adobe Creative Cloud; if you already subscribe then no additional cost. Free 14-day trial available.

Adobe Captivate

  • Platform: Mac/Win
  • Cost: $299 education pricing
  • Manufacturer: Adobe
  • Ease of Use: Somewhat difficult
  • Recommended Uses: Lecture Capture, interactive online quizzes or assignments
  • Disadvantages: Cost, takes a long time to create end product, steep learning curve
  • Link to Tutorials: tutorials from Dustin Ellis
  • Example: Here is an example from an online course by Joann Hochstein, Lone Star College
  • Other: There is a 30 day free trial


  • Platform: Mac, Win XP and higher
  • Cost: $75 Mac education pricing | $175 Win education pricing
  • Manufacturer: TechSmith
  • Ease of Use: Moderate learning curve
  • Recommended Uses: Screen/lecture capture and edit videos
  • Disadvantages: Mac and Win versions vary: Quizzing and surveys and automatic generation of closed captioning available only on Win version and not Mac. Can't handle high-resolution video, and can't show two videos at the same time. Doesn't properly synch .mp3 audio, but there is a solution: Open the free software Audacity and convert your .mp3 to a .wav
  • Link to Tutorials: Tech Smith Tutorials for Win Version | Tech Smith Tutorials for Mac Version
  • Example: Overview video can be found on Camtasia main page
  • Other: There is a 30 day free trial

Video production

Saving, exporting, loading online

Video production is highly CPU intensive. The processing power of the computer can affect your production and cause problems such as failure to produce or unsynching of audio and video. Avoid this problem by first closing down all other programs before production.

Choose the right resolution and file format

Each device or platform (laptop, iPad, cell phone, TV screen, etc.) prefers a different resolution (for example, YouTube prefers High Definition resolution of 1280 pixels by 720 pixels). To accommodate a variety of uses, you might need to produce your video in multiple formats and make it available through multiple websites and platforms.

Alternatively, pick a format and size that has the greatest versatility. Test it on a variety of devices and browsers. It's probably best to determine the highest resolution you want first, and produce at that higher resolution from the beginning. Then you can reduce it later as necessary. Keep your videos short to avoid making the size too large to upload.

If you need to convert your videos to a different format (.mp4 is common and playable on all devices; .mov is specific to a QuickTime player, usually Macs; .wmv is a Windows Media Format specific to Windows operating system. There is often freeware online that can help such as Nero Video Converter to Miro Video Converter.

Deploy through multiple media

Videos can be published for use in a DVD player, for playing direct from a computer hard-drive, or streaming from the internet. If publishing to the internet, there are a number of video-hosting sites, including YouTube, TeacherTube, TedEd, Screencast and more. You can also host your videos on a college or university server. There are pros and cons to each of these. For example, if your video has closed-captioning or embedded quizzes that are accessed through an outside shell (accessed through a .html page rather than direct from the video), you will need to host on a site that accesses videos via .html (usually that means your college server, not YouTube).

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Additional Resources

Original content for this page was contributed by: Scott Brande, Cian Dawson, Joann Hochstein, Jenda Johnson, Scott Linneman, Melissa Lobegeier, Nancy Mahlen, Rebecca Moncur, Gigi Richard, Zach Schierl, Ron Schott, and Katryn Wiese during the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education. Our growing community of contributors continues to add to these resources. Get involved »