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Insider Tips: How to make a great video

If you've already decided on what to ask for in the Our School Needs contest, and how to ask for it, and decided to submit a video, and stitched your name on the back of your director's chair (let's call that Tip #1) - this post's for you.

Creating a video is a smart choice. It lets would-be voters, and our judges, hear your voices, see your expressions, and understand, on a deeper level, what your school really needs (it's not the Our School Wants competition, after all). Making a video can be fun and exciting. Best of all, your team can share in the filming experience.

To get some expert advice, I spoke to Chris Royalty, a documentary filmmaker and online video specialist. He's produced online videos for such notables as President Obama. He offered the following tips:

Tip #1: Get to the point.

Keep it short and sweet. Don't waste time with unnecessary intros, credits, or titles.

Tip #2: It's okay to ask for votes.

It's okay to ask users to vote for your school-in fact, it's encouraged.

Tip #3: Make it interesting.

You don't have to go out of your way to put acrobats in your video submission, but it can be helpful to add some sort of "action" in your video - that is, people doing things; not just "talking heads." If you do need to do a lot of talking or explaining in your video, consider asking different people to say different things.

Tip #4: Be real.

Natural and authentic is always better than flashy or "staged." While we do recommend that you "script" out how you want to tell your story, don't have the people on camera read from a script. The story will be more authentic if everyone uses their own words.

Tip #5: Sound check.

Make sure that viewers can understand what everyone is saying. Speak clearly and film in quiet locations.

Tip #6: Don't backlight your subjects.

Whenever or wherever you're filming, make sure that the light is on the person's face and not behind them. If you're shooting inside a classroom, for example, make sure that the person talking is not sitting in front of a bright window. (Otherwise, the person might just look like a dark blob.)

Tip #7: Want more ideas?

There are a lot of great resources online. Just Bing:"Digital Video Tips."


  • Which Video-Software do you prefer? Or what Software would you recommend?

  • It really depends on the system people have available to them. Personally we use Microsoft MovieMaker (, and we recommend that if you have a Windows system.

  • I only used MovieMaker a handful of time, but found it easy to use (and I don't have a lot of experience with movie editing software).

  • Great tips. Could please write something on video cameras?

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