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Recording Your Own Videos

Instructions and helpful tips on recording a good video by yourself

You can capture your video message using several of the electronic devices you may already have: smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. This guide will cover the applications that may be already available on your device, proper recording techniques and helpful tips.

Smartphone & Tablet Tips

All smartphones have a video camera integrated in the iOS. Shoot with your camera horizontal so that your screen looks like a widescreen TV. Try to hold it steady. The closer you are to the phone, the less shaky the video will appear, and your audio will be better too. You can stabilize your camera by placing it on top of a shelf or on a stack of books. If your phone has an adapter to attach to a tripod ... and you have a tripod, even better!

If you want to use a different app besides the default camera on your smart device, consider using FiLMiC Pro - a free download for both Apple and Android devices

Laptop & Computer Webcam Tips

Most laptops have a video camera included in the operating system. Desktop computers can use a USB webcam.

  • Windows 10 has a Camera app that works well
  • Macs have an application called Photo Booth. Macs also have a program called QuickTime Player that can do a 'New Video Recording' under the file menu.
  • Regardless of any application you use to capture and you would like to adjust any settings, ensure you are at a minimum resolution of 1280x720, commonly called '720'.

We don't want to see your ceiling, so prop up your laptop so your device's camera lens is eye-level by placing it on top of a box, a shelf or a stack of books. The closer you are to the laptop, the audio will be much better too. If you have a USB capable microphone, be sure to use it!

General Tips for Great Video

Clean your lens

Important for smartphones and tablets

We touch pretty much everywhere on the device, especially when the camera that we use for selfies is right above the screen. Use a soft cloth and a little bit of window cleaner - make sure you apply the cleaner on the soft cloth and not spray directly onto your device. It's not a bad idea to periodically clean your computer webcam with this same method as well.


Of course you are the star of the video, we have some tips on your clothing:

  • Refrain from anything too distracting, wild stripes/patterns, neon colors, other colleges' apparel (like your alma mater), etc.
  • You can never go wrong with maroon and gold!
  • If UMN Morris branded, make sure it doesn't use any of our former logos, especially:

Outdated UMN Morris logos, with big red Xs through them

For more information on branding, feel free to visit UMN Morris brand identity guidelines online.

Where should you record your video?

The environment where you record your video is very important. Here are some tips to make your video look and sound great!

Avoid excess noise

Choose a quiet space and shut down all programs and devices that make sounds. Don't forget about pets or children that could cause an interruption. Speak directly into the device and stand as close to it as possible to get the best audio. Selecting a spot outside may be prohibitive because of natural noises such as wind and traffic. If you already have a bluetooth or USB microphone, go ahead and use that!

Avoid backlit windows behind you

Having windows in your frame during daylight causes you to be in silhouette, especially if you do not have any additional light shining on your face from another source, like a lamp or camera light. Instead, use the natural light from the window in your favor and face the window when you record.

If you must have a window in frame, close your blinds and make sure you are lit from the front from an additional light source.

Frame your shot

Shot composition is important. Make sure you are in the middle of the screen and your head is not cut off, or you are not cut off from the neck!

  • Headroom is the space that is above your head and at the top of the frame. There should be a slight gap of your background above your head, but not too much!
  • Remember what's in your background. You are the main focus of the shot, so make sure the background you're shooting against isn't a distracting or messy space. These things can distract the audience of your message.
  • Eye contact is the key.Look into the lens! It's the small dot looking thing near the screen of your device's screen. That's your audience.


Now it's time to record your video. Remember, it's not live, so you can do multiple attempts and select which one you like best. A couple of things to consider:

  • After you hit the record button, take a breath, silently count to three in your head, smile and then begin your message. This extra video will be trimmed out in the editing process, or, you can trim it out using the editing tools found on your device.
  • Maintain eye contact when possible. We are not advocating you do a sardown, but just be aware where the lens is on your device.
  • At the end of your message, it's helpful to remain recording for at least four seconds while continuing eye contact with the lens. This provides the footage needed to properly transition out of your message by a fade out or dissolve.


After you record your message, you can deliver to UMN Morris by using Google Drive to the folder destination that was provided to you, or you can provide a Google Drive link to us via email to an address that was supplied to you. Remember, UMN email attachments cannot exceed 25mb, so an email attachment may not be the best option.

Mike Cihak, director of media technology
(320) 287-1735

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