The University of Texas at Austin- What Starts Here Changes the World
Services Navigation
  UT Home -> Web Video Guidelines -> Production
       
Collapse Menu

Web Video Guidelines

 

Pre-Production Planning

 

Production

 

Post-Production

 

Captioning Guidelines

  Expand Menu

Publishing at UT

 

Accessibility

 

Compression Examples

 

Glossary



Production

Audio

Lights

Shooting the Movie


When shooting video you must remember that there is more to the video than just the video. There is also a very important thing called AUDIO. The audio is just as, if not more, important than the video. You can shoot the best looking video ever shot in the history of video, but if you have bad audio how good is your video? Not very good at all. What is the point of watching a video if you can not understand the audio? Who would do that? Not me, and not many others either.

So, now that you understand just how important the audio is, you are probably asking yourself "How do I get good audio?" There is only one answer to that question. USE A MICROPHONE! And whatever you do, DO NOT USE THE MICROPHONE ON THE CAMERA! This needs repeating, DO NOT USE THE MICROPHONE ON THE CAMERA! All cameras come with a built-in microphone. DO NOT USE IT! If you are shooting a video, you must do whatever it takes to obtain a microphone. If you use the microphone on the camera, you are doomed and are sure to have great video with really bad audio.

Now that you are no longer going to use the built-in microphone on the camera, what type of microphone do you use? Well, there are many types of microphones available and it would take a long time to fully understand all of them. The basic types of microphones are omnidirectional, unidirectional, dynamic, and condenser.
  • If you want to pick up all the audio from the room use an omnidirectional microphone. An omnidirectional microphone has a pickup pattern that is round and will pick up audio in all directions, no matter which direction the microphone is pointing.

  • If you are capturing audio from one source, a presenter for example, you may want to use a unidirectional microphone. Unidirectional microphones, also know as cardioid microphones, are a good choice if you are only wanting to pick-up audio in a specific area of the room. Unidirectional microphones do a good job of eliminating background noise which could be distracting. When using a unidirectional microphone make sure that the microphone is pointing towards the subject who will be speaking. If multiple people will be speaking, a handheld or boom operated microphone can be used to manually point the microphone toward the speaking subject at any given time. Another type of microphone is a lavaliere microphone. Lavaliere microphones are very small and are clipped onto the subjects lapel or clothing close to the mouth. These microphones are good because they can be very discreet, and a wireless lavaliere microphone would give the subject the ability to move around the room. When using a lavaliere microphone be very careful when clipping it to subject. Do not cover the microphone head with any clothing, this could "muffle" the audio. Make sure that the microphone head is clear of any obtrusions and pointing up toward the subjects mouth.

  • The only difference you need to be aware of when deciding to use a dynamic or condenser microphone is that the condenser microphones require external power. This external power can be supplied by either batteries or from a mixing board. The power supplied by a mixer is called Phantom power. If you are not using a mixer, you will need batteries. Do not forget the batteries. You should always have EXTRA batteries, and if you do not know how old a battery is, replace it. The last thing you need is for the battery to go out during the taping session.

Omnidirectional

pickup pattern

onmidirectional microphone

Unidirectional

pickup pattern

unidirectional microphone
lavaliere microphone
So you have a microphone and are ready to shoot some great video. Most microphones have a professional XLR connector, and most cameras have a mini-jack for the external audio input. Sounds like a problem? It is. You will most definitely need an adapter to plug the XLR connector into the mini jack on the camera. There are many forms of adapters that can connect your microphone to the camera, and any of these connectors can be purchased from any music or electronics store. microphone connectors

The last thing that you can do to ensure that your audio sounds the best it possibly can, is to test it. Give yourself plenty of time to do an audio check. Hit record on the camera and talk into the microphone. Be sure and talk long enough to get a good idea of what the audio is going to sound like. This will also give you a chance to set the levels for the audio.

So, let's review. What do you need to remember about audio when creating video?

  1. DO NOT USE THE BUILT-IN MICROPHONE ON THE CAMERA

  2. ALWAYS USE AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE

  3. HAVE EXTRA BATTERIES

  4. HAVE THE PROPER CONNECTOR TO CONNECT THE XLR CONNECTOR FROM THE MICROPHONE TO THE MINI JACK ON THE CAMERA

If you follow these four suggestions when capturing video you will be sure to have great audio that will make you and your video look and sound professional.

Back to the Top

small light

One of the most important and most overlooked aspects of shooting good video is lighting. Lighting the subject properly can make the difference between shooting "professional" looking video and shooting video that may even be unusable. In general you want to keep your light level as high as possible. Video cameras work best in a certain range. Lights that are too bright will "washout" the subject, and video that is lit too dark will be "grainy" and will not have enough color to realistically reproduce the image.


Different types of lights have different intensity and color. Lighting a subject with different sources of lights, for example natural light/sunlight and fluorescent lights, can create strange colors not seen naturally by the human eye. If at all possible, eliminate different sources of light. If a light source is beyond your control (a large window with sunlight), use gels on the other light sources to match the sunlight coming in through the window. Gels are colored sheets of "plastic-like" material that are placed in front of the lights to filter out a certain range of the light. The color of the different light sources varies greatly. Sunlight will have a blue tint, artificial light (light bulbs) will illuminate with an orange/reddish tint, and fluorescent lights will have a green tint.

Try to match all light sources (all natural light, or all fluorescent light) to the best of your ability given each shooting sessions' circumstances, but remember, any light is better than no light. Once the video has been captured, do not be convinced that you can correct any problems in the post production of the video. Take the time to make sure the lighting is correct. Improper lighting is a major cause for "re-shoots" and who wants to have to do that?

light kit
Back to the Top

3-Point Lighting

Key Light - Fill Light - Back Light

The best lighting technique is 3-point lighting. In 3-point lighting 3 lights are used. A key light, a fill light, and a back light. A key light is the main light that is placed at a thirty to forty-five degree angle in front of the subject and to the side of the camera.

The second light in 3-point lighting is the fill light. The fill light is placed on the side of the camera just opposite of the key light. The fill light is used to soften shadows created by the key light. Usually the fill light is set to about half the intensity of the key light, and often a broad, scoop, or soft light is used instead of a spotlight to provide a softer fill with no harsh shadows. If using only a 2-light system, a reflector can be used to bounce light back onto the subject. Reflectors are sometimes used with a fill light to ensure that no hard shadows are cast on the subject.

Reflectors can be any object that will reflect light. They can be purchased in the form of umbrellas or a piece of sliver/white fabric stretched over a frame. If your budget does not allow for reflectors here is a solution. With a piece of cardboard and aluminum foil a reflector can be made. Simply cover the foil around the cardboard and you have a reflector. Use the shiney side of the foil for harder reflector or the dull side for a softer more diffused reflector.

The third light in a 3-point lighting system is the backlight. The backlight is usually placed directly behind the subject, in line with the camera. The backlight is sometimes placed above the subject pointing down onto the head and neck of the subject. The backlight creates a "defining edge" to help visually separate the subject from the background, and should be adjusted so it creates a highlight around the top or side of the subject. The backlight is not a background light. It should not be used to light the back drop, it is only used to create a rim of light around the subject and is used to separate the subject from the background by giving it a 3-dimensional look.

If available, a forth light can be used for a background light. A background light is different from a backlight. A back light is pointed at the subject, and a background light is pointed at the background. A background light will help separate the subject from the background, and can help create certain lighting effects.

  1. Always light the subject.
  2. Eliminate different light sources.
  3. Avoid shadows on the subject and the background.
  4. Get the lighting right the first time.
illustration of 3 point lighting  
Back to the Top

Shooting the Movie

Now you are prepared to go out and shoot the video. Remember that the final product, streaming media, and its size limitations should be in your mind as you are out in the field.

Your biggest challenge will be creating acceptable data rates for the web. The data rate is the amount of information that will flow through the network connection to the viewers computer. Data rate will determine the range of connection speeds and the quality of the streaming image of your movie..

Here are some common scenarios with production tips that will help keep the data rates low while creating quality video.

An Outdoor Interview

Audio

  • Use a handheld microphone or lavaliere microphone to minimize the sounds of streets, cars, running water, etc.
  • Use headphones to accurately monitor the sound of your recording.
  • More audio

Lighting

  • Position your camera so that the subject is not staring into the sun. This can "washout" the subject and be unflattering.
  • Watch for shadows on the subject's face. A large white piece of poster board can serve as a cheap reflector board to even out shadows.
  • Minimize lighting and shadow issues by shooting outside in the morning or at dusk when the light is softer.
  • More lighting

Framing

  • Position the subject in the opposite 2/3 of where they are looking.

illustration of framing

  • Avoid having the subject talk into the camera unless they are addressing the audience.

Tips to conserve data:

  • Use a tripod.
  • Avoid moving backgrounds like cars, trees blowing in the wind, crowds of people and fountains.
Back to the Top

An Instructor Interview in a Classroom or Lab

Audio

  • Use a handheld microphone or lavaliere microphone to minimize unwanted sounds such as air conditioning vents, rustling papers, etc.
  • Use headphones to accurately monitor the sound of your recording.
  • More audio

Lighting

  • A classroom can have different sources of light. It is important to find the right balance between projected images and the instructor's face or choose one over the other.
  • More lighting

Framing

  • Maintain a tight shot of the instructor and the chalk board. Move in tighter on the instructor's face if it is part of a streaming video presentation with slides. You will have a small display window so bring the speaker in close.

Focus

  • Manual focus is not always an option but note that low light situations can cause auto focus to shift. Keep an eye on your camera's behavior.

Tips to conserve data:

  • Use a tripod.
  • Maintain a static shot if possible, in other words, resist the urge to zoom in and out.
Back to the Top

An Interview in an Office

Audio

  • Use a handheld microphone or lavaliere microphone to minimize unwanted sounds such as air conditioning vents, rusting papers, etc.
  • Use headphones to accurately monitor the sound of your recording.
  • More audio

Lighting

  • Avoid putting the subject in front of a window. Work with the natural light or avoid it. Place the camera between a window and the subject.
  • Fluorescent lights can give a subject an unnatural skin tone. A small halogen desk lamp can be a simple alternative to fluorescent lights when lighting a single subject.
  • More lighting

Focus

  • Set camera to manual focus when dealing with a seated subject. This will prevent the focus from shifting as they move their hands.

Framing

  • Don't leave too much room above the subject's head. 1/3 of the frame is too much.

illustration of framing showing too much headroom
illustration of proper framing

Tips on conserving data:

  • Turn off or eliminate computer screens in the frame. They will appear to flicker in the movie.
  • Avoid detailed backgrounds like bookshelves or complex patterned textiles.

 

Back to the Top

  Updated July 30 2008
  Copyright | Privacy | Accessibility | Real Player | WindowsMedia Player | QuickTime Player | Flash
  Comments to UT Austin Digital Video Producers