Video helps bring UC Davis Student Affairs and its stories to life. Whether you are recording your videos with professional equipment, cell phone cameras or over Zoom, follow these steps to make high quality video that your audience will respond to.

Planning Your Video

When planning your video, it is important to set goals and understand what you are trying to accomplish. You need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is and a vision of what you want them to take away from your video.

Before moving forward, you should be able to answer these questions:

  • What is my goal for this video?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • How long of a video will my audience watch?
  • How will I distribute this video to reach my audience?
  • What do I want my audience to do or feel after watching this video?

Once you can answer these questions, you’re ready to move into the next phase.


This is where you hone in on all of the things you’ll need to have a successful video.


No matter what story you are telling, it is important to focus on one message that serves your overall goal. A common mistake is trying to include multiple, varying messages in one video. It muddles the story and makes it harder for the audience to follow. Keep things short, simple and moving. Once you know what story you want to tell, it’s time to get it on paper.

For scripted videos, make sure that your script:

  • is appropriate for your audience.
  • focuses on your key message.
  • has a strong call to action.
  • serves the overall goal of your video.

For unscripted video (interview or day-in-the-life), you still need to map out your story before filming and determine your talking points and/or interview questions to make sure that you don’t miss anything important in the filming.


Whether you’re casting a student for voiceover or on-camera work, you need to decide who will be the voice of your video. Make sure you actor(s) are comfortable being recorded and are able to show a lot of personality. This can often make or break a video’s watchability. Don’t forget, everyone in your video must also complete the Consent to Record form!


When it comes to on-camera wardrobe, we have a couple of recommendations:

  • Wear solid colors. Patterns can be distracting and can even distort the camera lens.
  • Avoid non-UC Davis logos. We don’t have the rights to use other company logos in our videos.
  • Don’t hide your face with hats or sunglasses.


You’ve got to decide where you will shoot the video and what will make a nice shot. Make sure that you can clearly see the subject and that the background enhances your video instead of detracting from it. We often recommend filming indoors to better control the environment. When filming outdoors, make sure you consider a shady area and a very quiet location with no background noise so that you can be heard clearly. Please note that if it’s windy, the sound of the wind will be much louder on the video than to your ears and can make your audio unusable.

Other Considerations:

  • What resources will you need? Graphics? Music? Camera and lighting equipment? Sound?
  • What b-roll will you need to tell your story?
  • Think about a timeline for the project, start to finish.
  • Who will shoot and edit your video?
  • Does my video need to be shot horizontally (YouTube, Facebook) or vertically (Instagram Stories)?
  • Who will review the final video?
  • Where will your final video live? What kind of distribution plan do you have?
  • Production

This is where all the work you’ve done in pre-production comes into play and a great video shoot happens. Make sure you have all of your equipment (tripod, camera, cell phone, lighting kit, microphone, etc.) and that everything is fully charged.

Recording Over Zoom:

Zoom can be a great tool for recording video, especially in these physically distanced times. Not only can you record multiple people safely and in different locations, you can use a virtual background to add interest to your videos and aid in the storytelling process. This video from the Transfer and Reentry Center was filmed entirely over Zoom and can serve as an example for you. Any department can make a short, informational video on their own.

When recording a video over Zoom, make sure to follow these best practices.

Do’s Don'ts
Practice, Practice, Practice Wing it
Get comfortable with the technology and test Wait until recording day to download and test tech
Have script notes to refer to Read script word for word
If recording with multiple people, practice transitions and flow of presentation Talk over each other
Use a conversational approach Speak without inflection in voice
Position webcam to be centered and level Be out of focus, too close or too far
Pay attention to background: include appropriate art, pictures and well centered No background or not professional
Present in a well-lit room Present in a poorly lit room
Wear solid patterns and be conscious of reducing shine or glare on face Wear busy patterns
Rehearse Record without practicing first


This is when you bring all the elements together—interviews, b-roll, music, graphics—and cut your video and prepare it for distribution.


For unscripted video (interview or day-in-the-life), transcribing the interviews with timestamps could prove useful for structuring the edit. Once all the interviews have been transcribed, you can then extract different soundbites (with timestamps) and order them in a script. These methods give more insight into how you can give guidance to the video when there are multiple interviewees or quotes available.


  • There are many sites that offer subscription services for royalty free-music, like AudioBlocks and Shutterstock. Strategic Communications uses APM Music.
  • Be subtle—don’t tell your audience how to feel.
  • Look for music that is upbeat and driving in terms of pace.
  • Use music that is copyright cleared. It should be cleared of all permissions in advance of filming.


  • Use campus b-roll if possible. Look in the UC Davis Photoshelter collection or in SAMC’s Flickr library.
  • Use motivated shots—avoid lingering.
  • Look for sequences: wide, medium and tight.
  • Consider using a video library, such as Video Blocks, which offers unlimited use of stock footage for a modest annual fee.

UC Davis Video Assets:

You can find animated end cards with UC Davis logos, closed captions, lower thirds and text on screen files in this Box folder. Using these files will ensure that your video is on brand and give it a more polished and professional look.


When creating videos, the goal is to create stories that are accessible to everyone. If you are producing videos, this means you should create open captions (burned into the original video file) for every video you publish, at minimum.

There are captioning and translation resources available for faculty and staff from Academic Technology Services (ATS) on the campus accessibility website. You can also find instructions on creating open captions in Adobe Premiere here.

While you can caption videos using YouTube’s captioning feature, social media channels make captioning difficult. There is no way to add captions to videos in Instagram, and it can be difficult to add captions in Facebook and Twitter. Captioning the video from the start saves time and ensures your videos are accessible regardless of where you share them.


Don't forget to include things like websites, location, hours and social media handles.