Tips for Filming a Simple Video Update for Your School Community

Tips for Filming a Simple Video Update for Your School Community

One of the simplest, yet engaging, ways you can share key information with your stakeholders is through a simple school video update.

In fact, this is perhaps the most common type of school video. The subject—who is usually the superintendent or a principal—sits or stands in front of the camera and provides an brief update to their school community.

Below are some tips for filming a simple school video update:


Create a script

Know what you are going to say in your school video update before you start filming. This can take the form of a script or a series of talking points you want to hit. Preparing a script or notes will allow you to get your thoughts organized and get a sense for how long your video will be.

While there is no specific length that works best, we find that limiting a school video update to fewer than three minutes allows you to keep your audience engaged while keeping your points concise.

Also, if you can keep your video under 2 minutes and 20 seconds, you can more easily post it to Twitter without having to use a third-party platform like YouTube or Vimeo.


Find a good background

Before you start filming, find a nice-looking background in your home or office. A quiet space where you can close the door and set up your camera or smartphone is ideal.

A bookshelf often looks good as a background when filming video. Avoid recording in front of a window, which can backlight you, or a blank while wall, which can wash you out.


If you want to shoot outside, stay away from areas with a lot of background noise or wind, which can distort the audio. The video will look best if it’s a cloudy day, as the colors will pop more and you won’t have to squint like you would if the sun were in your eyes.

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo, superintendent of the Park Falls School District in Wisconsin, uses his one-minute “walk to school” to provide an update to his community nearly every morning. This has the added benefit of his audience knowing when to expect an update from him each day, making it part of their routine.


Frame the shot

To make sure you are properly framed on screen, use the rule of thirds. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you out.

If you are shooting alone, without anyone else to help out, you’ll need to see how you look on screen before you hit record. If your camera has a flip-out screen, that’s easy—just flip the screen around so it’s facing you. You can also hook up your laptop to your camera to show a preview of the shot.


Do a few takes

Before you start filming, know that you will allow yourself more than one chance to get it right. This is especially important if it’s your first time creating a school video update. Run through your script 2-3 times while recording, and then pick the best take to use as the version you share.

As you do more of these and continue to hone your skills, you’ll learn new techniques that allow you to make your school video updates even more dynamic. In the meantime, these simple tips will allow you to record quality video that enhances your connections with parents, students, staff and community members.

The Donovan Group offers digital video creation and editing services for schools and school districts across the United States. 

How to Record Quality Video Footage with a Smartphone

How to Record Quality Video Footage with a Smartphone

At a time of school closures, schools and districts are looking at how they can engage their stakeholders from a distance—especially through digital video. This can be as simple as grabbing a smartphone and recording some footage or a video message to students and families. 

Recording video with a phone can be a little challenging at first, as mobile devices were not designed for this specific purpose. They do not have an easy place to grip or optical zoom, for example. However, it is possible to use them to record professional video that helps you get your messages across. 

Here are some quick tips for maximizing the quality of your smartphone-captured video:


1. Keep the phone as steady as possible

video recording smartphone

Try to keep your phone as still as possible while recording video. If you need to capture a subject that’s moving, try to do so with smooth, gradual motions. Keep both hands on the phone at all times.

An ideal solution is to purchase a gimbal stabilizer or tripod. If you don’t have either of these, you can help keep your phone steady by keeping your elbows in, close to your sides. You’ll be surprised how much unnecessary movement you can prevent with this simple tactic. 

Of course, you can always try resting your phone on a chair, desk, table or other surface while filming. This can work well in some situations, but does not provide much flexibility or the easy capture of movement. 


2. Shoot horizontally, not vertically

When shooting video using a smartphone, your instinct might be to hold the device vertically, just like you do when using it for most other things. However, this can be limiting if you want to edit your video and share it online and via social media.

Instead, hold your phone horizontally when filming. The result will be more professional-looking video and a better experience for the viewer.

filming video for schools


3. Avoid back lighting

The source of light for your video should be above or in front of the subject. If the lighting is behind the subject, it will have a silhouette effect. If the subject is a person, you may not be able to see his or her face very well. 


4. Lock the camera’s focus

You can set the camera to focus on your subject as you film. On an iPhone, you can do so by holding your finger on the subject on the screen. You can do the same on Android devices by tapping the screen. This will automatically keep the focus of the recording on the subject, even if he or she moves around. 


5. Audio quality is important

Although smartphones today can capture high-quality video, the microphones are not always at the same level. They also tend to be located in a place that makes sense for phone calls, but not necessarily for recording quality audio while shooting video.

As a rule of thumb, avoid filming outdoors if there’s a lot of wind, as it can distort the audio. You can also purchase an external microphone that drastically improves the quality level of the audio you record.

If you’re using the phone’s internal mic, hold the device as close to the subject as possible. When recording a teacher who is sitting at a desk, for example, you would not want to hold the phone on the other side of the desk—that’s too far away. Get about 3-4 feet away from the subject to maximize the audio quality. 

With these simple tips, you can record exceptional video footage that allows you to make a more personal connection with parents, students, staff and other stakeholders. 

The Donovan Group offers digital video creation and editing services for schools and school districts across the United States.