How to Make a Video


The basics of a good video

A good story is the most important part of a video. Everyone loves a good story. Stories delight, motivate, challenge, and touch us. Storytelling is all around us.

First and foremost, you want to tell a compelling story.  Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate your message. Production quality doesn’t matter nearly as much as the story you are telling (although the better quality the better to engage your audience), so focus on getting a complete and coherent story rather than having Hollywood-perfect lighting and sound.

Good production helps you tell a good story. Good production can help you tell a story, or at least not distract from the story.  Good sound is important – what’s the point of an excellent interview if it’s hard to hear and understand?  Good light is important as well, because what’s the point of a good shot if the audience can’t tell what they’re looking at?  All parts of a video should support the story you’re trying to tell – from the lighting to the music to the font you use in the titles. How, in short, do you make a meaningful piece of video?

Fortunately, you’ll find a lot of resources on this page to help you both tell a good story and figure out some of the production elements.

Check this YouTube video to provide you with "4 Tips to Help You Shoot Video to Tell a Story". The subject is quite sporty but it certainly covers the basic elements to tell a good video story. Just change the topic, the format and pace as you like, and ascetically you'll have a good template by following these steps:


Telling your story well

Elements of a good story:

  • Have a point. Don't simply focus on an “update” format, focus on the message “this is what our ministry is about, and this is what we’re accomplishing”. Begin by selecting the question you will answer: 1) How does your ministry change lives? 2) How does your ministry fulfill the conference's vision (invite, excite, unite)? 3) How does your ministry help the local church make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?
  • Keep your audience in mind. Videos will be viewed by attendees of Annual Conference, which includes all church pastors, lay leaders, the Bishop, conference office staff, other lay memeber to conference, and representatives from national and state-wide United Methodist organizations.  Videos will also be viewed by members of local churches on a Sunday morning.  Also keep in mind that you could use the video you create for your own marketing/promotional use.  Be sure your video explains everything and puts things in a context that will be understood by your entire audience.
  • Keep it short. Be direct and to-the-point.  Your audience's time is valuable, so make sure that every second is used to its fullest potential in your video. You’re goal as a content creator should always be to understand what you’re core audience wants from you, what interests them, and then to deliver on that in an interesting way. 

To interview or not to interview?

Decide whether you think interviews will help in telling your story, and who will be best in expressing that story.  The leader of your group or organization?  Someone who has been helped by your group?  Both?

It helps to have an idea of how much interview material you want to have in your video.  Interviews, if they are good and informative, can serve as much of your video’s “voice”, and have the benefit of being information straight out of the mouths of those who know the subject best, and of making the video a little more personal.  On the other hand, relying mostly on your own written and recorded narration gives you a lot of control over flow, timing and word choice.  Both styles can be effective.

Of course, if you plan to use a lot of interview material and yet don't end up with the amount of good material you need, you can always go back and cover the gaps with your own written and recorded narration.

And remember, you should get a signed release form from your interview subjects.

Here are "5 tips for video interviews" by The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism. You can find helpful Courses, Programs & Training in journalism skills taught by industry experts online here

"5 tips for video interviews":

Seeing, for many viewers, is believing. But to really “understand” requires explanation and context. That is a key role journalists fill. When you're interviewing a person, you want to capture more than the interview. Here are some tips for b-roll and other ways to add context to your story.

  • Capture as much video of a person as you can before the interview. The more you know, the more productive the interview will be. And the person will be more relaxed in the interview if she has spent time showing you whatever it is that makes her newsworthy.
  • Interview the main subject of your story in at least two settings. One setting is a more formal sit-down interview with a tripod-steadied shot. It is the “what” part of the story.
  • The second main interview is “off the shoulder” with the camera moving as the person is in a more relaxed setting. This setting does not include the distraction of TV lights and often elicits the most heartfelt sound bites, the emotional part of the story.
  • If you cut between these interviews and the b-roll, it gives viewers the idea that you have spent a lot of time with the person because we experience her in more than one setting.
  • Be careful: Avoid asking people to act for the camera, unless you make it clear that you asked them to show you “how it happened.” Instead, ask the person what she would be doing if you were not there. Try to capture that. Then use exteriors of houses and office buildings to give viewers a sense of place.

Illustrating with images

Consider the images you might need in order to illustrate what your video says. In some cases, this might mean going back out for photos and footage after you record your interviews and have written your script, so that you have an idea of what you need images of. However, make sure to research and gather all the photos and footage that have previously been shot of your subject so you know what you already have.

Once you’ve made your decisions on what you need to tell your story and looked at what you already have available, it’s time to get out there and record what you need! Keep in mind that, when editing, it’s best to have a variety of kinds of images to work with. Be sure to get both wide shots and closeups of buildings, signs, people and, in some cases, surroundings (if your agency relates to a particular part of town, a college campus, etc.). Get several different angles of the same thing to give yourself lots of options once you start editing.

Check out 5 Tips for shooting compelling video from United Methodist Communications.

Assembly of the final video

Editing a video is a bit of an organic experience, meaning that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and different elements often develop simultaneously, not in sequence. However, here is a general process that you can follow in creating videos:

  1. Choose the good clips out of the interviews and import them into your editing system
  2. Write the narration around the sound bites you cut from interviews to tie everything together
  3. Record and import the narration into your editing system
  4. Do a little editing to get the timing right on all of the “content” audio (no gaps too big or too small between sound bites and narration)
  5. Set the volume of the narration and the interviews to the same level
  6. Place photos and/or video clips where they fit, given the audio content (i.e. - show what you’re talking about)
  7. Add titles
    • lower-thirds (name and relationship to agency, in the lower 1/3rd of the screen -- like the nightly news)
    • main title cards (you should have something at the beginning to signify what your video is about)
    • © info at end –> agency and year (for instance, (c) 2010 Kansas Wesleyan University)
  8. Build in the movement and transitions, if any (fades and "Ken Burns" ease in and out)
  9. Add the music track and mix the audio tracks (narration, interviews and music) in relation to each other
  10. Go back and make any changes you feel necessary to the timing of the cuts you've already made.  You can usually see/hear good spots to bring in a photo, fade out a title, where to make a cut, etc. once you have the music in place
  11. Add 2-5 seconds of black at the beginning and end
  12. Do a final viewing to make sure everything looks good
  13. Export the video

Say It, Show It, Spell It

If you are interested in digging further into obtaining more knowledge of the video production process, we recommend to jump into a more detailed series such as these found in YouTube to start with. Video Maker, LinkedIn Learning Solutions, and Todd Wolfe