The Erasmus+ guide to video making for beneficiaries: lights, camera, action!

Not quite sure what to do once you've hit the record button? 

During the first blog post in our video guide series we covered the necessary steps to take prior to filming, such as defining your video's aims, identifying and gathering your equipment and how to plan and prepare for filming. If you haven't read it yet, we'd recommend you get up to speed with our pre-filming advice before starting your video.

With your set-up ready, in the second instalment of the Erasmus+ video guide it's time to start filming! We'll be walking you through some quick and easy filming techniques to give your video a professional flair. We will be covering video-making essentials such as how to diversify and frame your shots and image composition tips.

Vary your footage

Whether you are recording a project activity or an interview, it's always good to use a combination of different types of footage. Incorporating a mix of images into your video keeps it interesting and is more likely to keep your audience engaged.

The easiest and most common way to split your footage is with the A-roll and B-roll technique:

  • A-roll is the main scene you want your video to capture - e.g. footage of your activity or the focal interview.
  • B-roll is the supplementary footage that's used to 'break up' A-roll footage and is also used to add depth and context, e.g. a series of clips of some scenery or an event or activity that has been discussed in the video.

Watch the video below from Erasmus+ project REAL to see how A-roll and B-roll have been combined to showcase their insights and experiences:

Top Tip! Evenly divide your time between recording interviews and capturing B-roll. It's important to have a good amount of both to keep your video captivating and dynamic.

Framing: getting all the right angles

Framing is the way you capture and present the subjects and objects within your image. Here are some example scenarios to help you identify which shot would be best to use for the scene you are capturing:

Long shot: is great for capturing moments from activities, events or when there is a lot happening. A long shot helps to reveal the scale of an event and establishes the context.

Video framing: example of long shot

Medium shot: is a very practical shot and is often used in interviews because it displays a good balance between the person, their body language and the setting.  

video framing: example of medium shot

Medium close-up shot: fills the screen with part of the subject, such as a person’s head or face. This is a good choice for participant interviews and can be combined with a medium shot as B-roll to help vary the footage.

Video framing: example of medium close up shot

Close-up shot: is a good choice when filming a participant who is sharing a personal story as it helps to establish a connection with the audience and to better capture emotive expressions. Close-ups can also be used to show details of an object related to the activities.

Video framing: example of close up shot

Two-shot: helps to establish a relationship between subjects. It could show the interviewer and interviewee or two interviewees facing the camera.

Video framing: example of two-shot

Rule of thirds

A useful composition technique to follow is the rule of thirds. Using the rule of the thirds can create more tension, energy and dynamism in interview situations. 

All you need to do is break your image into thirds, using two horizontal and two vertical lines. This will leave you with nine equal rectangles, as you can see below:

Rule of thirds composition technique

The four intersection points are the most important areas of the screen; this is where you should place the main subjects or the focus points in your scene. The viewer’s eyes will subconsciously fall on these points of interest. Most digital cameras and some devices have the option to show this grid on your screen, so make sure you check your device settings. 

Top Tip! Avoid constantly zooming in and out or panning right to left as this will have a negative effect on the viewing experience – keep the shot simple and stable.

Try out some trending techniques

Once you have established your favoured shots and your best composition, you can start to get more creative on how to present your A-roll and B-roll footage. There are many filming techniques that you could incorporate into your video; however, some are more popular than others simply because not only are they quick, easy and simple to use, they are also very visually effective. Experiment with some of these examples below:

Incorporate a time-lapse video

A time-lapse is a visually appealing and fun way to capture an event or story. With this short form video you can document key milestones and bring your project to life, whilst requiring little time and concentration from the viewer - something that is vital in a fast-paced digital world.

Activities such as team-building or setting up for an event will work well as a time-lapse video, allowing the online audience to get a sense of what it's like to be there.

You can use the time-lapse setting on your phone if you don't have a camera, or you can record a normal video which you can speed up later on, when editing the footage.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video we created for our Shaping Futures exhibition for some inspiration:

Top Tip! The best time lapse captures the contrast between moving and still objects. Keep your device still or place it on a table and record people exploring your event.

Capture personal experiences with a selfie video

Another great and easy way to diversify your footage is filming in selfie mode, all you need is a mobile phone with a front-facing camera. There are two styles:

  • “talking head” is a great opportunity to get your participants involved by sharing their personal experiences; and
  • “follow me around” is fit for capturing the progress of a project activity or a new place visited as part of an international mobility.

Take a look at a Petroc college student Benjamin Cappetta's video for some inspiration; he is documenting his experiences during his study in the Netherlands.

It's worth remembering that many people take selfie videos in a portrait style. This will look unusual if the rest of your content is shot in the standard 16:9 widescreen landscape ratio.

Slideshow

If you didn’t have time to film scenes or participants in your project, you can still create an engaging video using the pictures taken during your project activities by turning them into a dynamic slideshow. Check out Southern Regional College's Erasmus+ story to see how they incorporated images into their video.

Prepare for the unexpected

Finally, factor in and be prepared for encountering some errors when filming your video. It is always a good idea to have a plan B in case anything unexpected happens - this is particularly true for live broadcasting. If something goes wrong during a live video, remember to keep calm in front of the camera, continue filming or move on to your next question in an interview. Pre-recorded videos can be more easily adapted and edited in post-production, so don't be afraid to stop filming, re-record questions or change things up if necessary.

Now that the filming is done, check out our third and final blog post for tips and tricks on video editing and post-production.