Category Archives: Intro to Video

Media Workflow Series / No. 7: Exporting & Uploading

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You’ve made it to our last Media Workflow blog post! The only work you have left is to export and upload your project.


Now that you’ve finished editing your project, you need to export it so you can watch and share it. Some possible export formats are .MOV, MPEG-4, AVI, WMV, and AVCHD.

This webpage is a helpful resource for understanding the common video formats:

Once again, we also recommend checking out for tutorials that will walk you through exporting your project. Here are a couple helpful ones:

Premiere Pro:

Final Cut Pro:


The format you export your media to might also depend on where you want to upload it, so it’s a good idea to determine the best output settings for the website you are uploading your media to. Here are some helpful resources for the most common video sharing websites:



Kaltura (


Now that you’ve exported and uploaded your media, you’re officially done with your project! Congratulations!

Media Workflow Series / No. 6: Editing your Media

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Now that you’ve shot your footage and imported it into your preferred editing program, it’s time to get to work on editing your project!

Don’t have editing software on your computer? No problem! The Media Commons workstations are equipped with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Audacity, and more. Check out Media workflow tutorial #5 for more information!

If you are new to editing, is a fantastic place to start. It provides videos and tutorials for a wide variety of editing software, and you have a free membership as a University of Illinois student. Log in at

Here are links to some of our favorite Lynda tutorials:

Editing Green Screen Footage

If you shot footage in the Media Commons video studio, chances are you will need to replace the green screen with a different image. Check out our previous blog posts that describes how to edit a green screen:

This Lynda tutorial is another great resource for editing a green screen in Premiere Pro:

Editing Footage from Multiple Cameras (Multicam)

Multicam is especially useful when shooting a video in which the subject or subjects remain seated or standing in the same position, such as an interview, testimonial, etc. With a multicam set-up, you can cut between different shots, as it can be jarring to cut during one continuous take if there is any slight movement. This way, you can combine footage from different takes and make the video flow much better.

Check out this Lynda tutorial on editing multicam footage:

Editing Audio

Editing programs will provide visual information on your audio levels with meters and color cues. You can manually adjust the volume if you find some audio to be too loud or too quiet. You should aim for audio levels between -6 and -12 dB. In some cases, audio cannot be improved drastically if there is a fair amount of distortion or feedback, but there are effects that can be applied. In Premiere, there are tools such as peak limiter and DeHummer. Other audio effects such as Crossfades can be applied to your audio clips. These are located in the “audio transitions” folder. More information about audio editing in Premiere Pro can be found here.

Want information about an editing program we haven’t mentioned? We recommend exploring for even more tutorials!

Media Workflow Series / No. 5: Starting an Editing Project

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Choosing an Editing Program

There are many different programs that allow you to edit your software, including Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audacity, and much more. The Media Commons Workstations in the UGL offer those three programs and the full Adobe Creative Creative Cloud Suite. A full list of software on our workstations can be found here:

Want to make sure that a workstation is available when you need it? Reserve one in advance! –

Media Commons Workstations photo
Media Commons Workstations

Importing Media

Before you begin editing your project, you must import your media into your editing program. To do this, locate the media browser in your program and click “import media.” You will be able to import your media from wherever it is stored, including an external drive or on your computer’s hard drive.

Make sure that your media storage device (hard drive, flash drive, etc.) is connected to your computer whenever you are editing. This is necessary to link the media in the editing project to the original video and/or audio files.

Additional Resources: is a great resource full of tutorials on how to import and organize your media with various types of editing programs, and you have free access as a University of Illinois Student!

More information on media storage can be found in the Media Commons Workflow Post #4:


Media Workflow Series / No. 4: Transferring Media

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Now that you’ve completed your video shoot,  you’re going to need to transfer and store your media. This post will give you a brief overview of the different options you have:

Transferring your media from an SD card:

SD card
SD card

If you saved your video to an SD card, you can easily take it out of your camera and insert it into an SD card slot in your computer.  If your computer doesn’t have an SD card slot, you’re in luck: our loanable tech desk has them available for checkout!

SD card reader
SD card reader

Transferring your media directly from the camera:

Another option is to transfer your media directly from your camera to your computer using the USB cable that came with your camera.  This is necessary if you used your camera’s built-in memory instead of a SD card.  Each camera has different steps required for this, so take a look at your owner’s manual for more information.

USB transfer cable
USB transfer cable

Storing your media:

There are a few different options for storing your media project, including an external hard drive, flash drive, and directly on your computer. We recommend storing your media at least two places to keep it safe!

  • Flash Drives 

If you plan on storing your media on a flash drive, it is important to check the size of your media and see how much the flash drive holds.  Many flash drives don’t have enough to store large media files, but they work well for small projects.

If you have a larger project that is under 64GB, we recommend purchasing this flashdrive from Amazon:

  • Hard Drives

Hard drives are a great option for storing large media files, however they usually cost more money than flash drives. If you don’t have one available, stop by the loanable tech desk. We have a limited number available for check out:

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive

Media Workflow Series / No. 3: Carrying Out your Shoot


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On the third installment of our Media Workflow Series, We’ll review what you’ll need to know to carry out your shoot. We describe different steps you should take below:

Framing your Shot:

A common guideline for framing a shot is the rule of thirds, in which you divide the frame vertically and horizontally into thirds with an imaginary grid. This helps to utilize the space of the frame and make the video more visually appealing. The following photos demonstrate the rule of thirds:

Still of an interview in the Media Commons Video Studio
Still of an interview in the Media Commons Video Studio
photo of tree demonstrating rule of threes
Photo by Eric Kurt

Lighting your shot:

It is also common to use a three-point lighting system. This consists of a key light, fill light, and backlight. You can always add or subtract lights from your setup depending on the aesthetic you are hoping to achieve.

  • The key light is the brightest light in the setup and shines directly on the subject.
  • The fill light is a softer light that is placed at an angle on the opposite side of the key light. Its purpose is to reduce shadows.
  • The back light separates the subject from the background. It is placed behind the subject.
Image of three point lighting
Image license: public domain. Author: Theonlysilentbob, converted to SVG by tiZom. February 21, 2008.

The Media Commons video studio provides a lighting system that can be manipulated to create the desired aesthetic.

Synchronizing Cameras

Shooting with multiple cameras requires synchronization during post-production, because you will likely not start recording on each camera at the exact same moment. The Media Commons video studio contains two cameras that record directly into the computer, which makes it possible to synchronize the footage by timecode. Otherwise, the footage can be synchronized by audio, utilizing programs such as Pluraleyes if necessary.

Monitoring Audio

It is important to check the audio levels before shooting and continue to monitor them while recording. A suitable audio level is somewhere between -6 and -12dB. The audio meters should appear green or close to yellow. If the levels go above that or the color on the meter turns red, you’ll need to adjust the audio.

Battery and Storage Media Limitations

You should monitor the remaining battery power and memory storage during your shoot. Depending on the length of the shoot, you may need to change out batteries for the camera or audio equipment. In that case, it is important to have charged spare batteries so you don’t lose any shooting time.

It is also important to keep track of any limitations with storage media. Depending on the camera you choose, you will do this with the SD card or the camera’s internal memory. Try to figure out how long you plan to shoot and if the memory is capable of storing that much at once. In some situations, you may have to offload footage or swap out SD cards if you plan on recording a lot. Additionally, some cameras are only capable of recording a certain amount of consecutive footage (such as 15 or 20 minutes at a time), which would just require stopping and starting the recording.

When is it appropriate to stop a take midway and restart?

Some instances where it is appropriate to stop a take and restart recording include noticing audio feedback or environmental noise, or perhaps if the subject of the video needs to repeat something they said. The same also goes for situations where you can only shoot for a certain amount of time consistently (such as 15-20 minutes at a time) and need to start and stop the recording for a moment.


Media Workflow Series / No. 2: Prepping for Your Shoot

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Welcome to post 2 of our Media Workflow series. This week, We’ll review the steps you should take to prepare for your shoot:

1. Charge Batteries:

This is a crucial part of preparation. It is easier to keep batteries charged when shooting indoors, such as in the media commons video studio. If you must bring equipment with you that will not be plugged in during the shoot, make sure that any batteries are fully charged beforehand. This includes camera batteries and audio equipment such as lavalier microphones and recorders. Some batteries take longer than others to charge, so be sure to leave ample time. Bring spare batteries if possible.

2. Format Media:

It is important to clear off media that is stored on an SD or SSD card before beginning your shoot. This makes space on the card so that you have maximum storage for your new video. Most devices have an option in the settings menu to “Format Media” – always do this before beginning a shoot. Any important media should be exported and backed up before formatting.

3. Determine Camera Settings:


This controls the amount of digital “brightness” that is added to your recording. Generally speaking, try to set this as low as possible while still maintaining adequate light exposure in your shot


Generally speaking, you want to shoot at the widest Aperture possible. This will give you the most light and allow you to keep ISO low. However, you may need to “stop-down” your aperture in bright conditions (such as the outdoors) to let in less light by increasing the f-number (usually ranges from f1.8, f2.8 or f3.5 at the most open to f24 at the most closed).  Beware that some zoom lenses have different maximum aperture settings at the two ends of their zoom (i.e. f3.5 at the widest setting and f5.6 at the most zoomed). In this situation, if you will be zooming during your recording, set the aperture to the higher f-number (f5.6 in this scenario)

One last thing to be aware of, is that the more open your aperture is the narrower the “plane of focus” will be. This means that at low f-numbers (~f3.5 and below), the camera will only be able to keep things in focus at the same time that are the same distance from the camera. For a deeper “plane of focus” (to keep more of the depth of your frame in focus at th same time) increase your f-number

Frames per second (FPS)

This is how many images the video camera records each second. Normally, video is shot at 24 fps (23.98 fps more specifically). This mimics the motion blur that the human eye sees when objects are moving quickly

If you want to record slow-motion footage, you’ll need to shoot at a higher frame rate; so that you still maintain at least 24 fps when you slow it down (i.e. 60fps slowed down by 50% = 30 fps). Our GoPro cameras are great for this!



You will have a choice of shooting in 1080p, 720p (and maybe even 4K!) on our cameras. These are the pixel sizes of the video files (how large the video is on your screen). Currently, most video uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or Kaltura is transcoded to 720p to make streaming more smooth. However, we recommend shooting in 1080p, because you can always make the video smaller later, but trying to enlarge video will result in a blurry effect.

You will also be able to crop your video when shooting in 1080p. You are able to choose just a portion of your video and effectively re-frame your shot during post-production (potentially cropping out something you didn’t mean to be in the frame!)

If using multiple cameras, try to use the same model and keep your settings the same (with possible changes in aperture/ISO depending on the lighting conditions where each camera is facing)

Media Workflow Series / No. 1: Gathering Technology

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Welcome to the Media Commons’ weekly “Media Workflow Blog Post Series”, where we’ll walk you through the process of creating a video project, from your initial conception of the video to the moment you publish it online. Our post for week 1 will discuss how to gather the most effective technology to use for your project:

The first step to creating a quality video is selecting the right equipment. Here are some questions that will guide you during this process:

1. What kind of video am I making?

First, determine your main goal for the project. What do you want your viewers to learn and take away from your video? After you’ve thought about your main objectives and vision, determine the most effective presentation format for the video. Will it work best as an interview, testimonial, narrative, or something else entirely?

Next, create an outline or script of what you hope to accomplish and say in your video. This will help determine where you’ll shoot the video, who you’ll cast, and the equipment you’ll need. Creating an outline or script will also ensure that your video shoot is well-organized and efficient.

After you’ve created your outline, think about how many people will be on screen and speaking at once. Will you primarily have one person on screen speaking to the camera, or will you film your subjects interacting in a group setting? Lavaliers and handheld microphones are useful options for one-on-one interviews or testimonials, while a shotgun microphone works better in situations where multiple people will be on-screen and speaking at the same time.   lav                                                   Lavalier Microphone                                                       

shotgunShotgun Microphone

2. Where am I shooting?

The location of your video shoot will influence the type and amount of equipment you will need to use. Your lighting and audio equipment choices are two factors that will depend largely on your location.

Filming Indoors:


If you are shooting in a room without windows, you will need to use artificial lighting, which will create a more polished look in your video. Turn on overhead lights and utilize lamps to create a well-lit recording space. You can also check out artificial lighting like this Digital Juice Miniburst 128 Portable Light from the Undergrad Library:


It is also important to be aware of intense backlighting when you shoot in a room with windows and natural light. Ideally, do not shoot with your subject in front of the window. If that positioning is necessary, adjust the blinds or curtains on your windows, and try to light the subject from the front to match the background light levels.


There are generally less background sounds to worry about when recording audio indoors. However, you should still be aware of anything that will create distracting noises, such as air conditioning units or voices in the background. If using a shotgun mic, orient your subject so the microphone is pointing away from any source of noise (often outside noises from windows). If using a lavalier mic, you can use the subject’s body to block the noise by having them face their back to it.

Filming Outdoors:

Conditions are much less consistent when working outdoors, thanks to changing weather, lighting, and sounds. It is important to keep these variables under consideration and adapt to changing conditions while shooting outdoors.

Make sure your equipment is fully charged before beginning your outdoor shoot, as it is likely that you will have a difficult time finding a power source after you begin. It is also a good idea to bring extra charged batteries with you.


It will be more difficult to control the lighting during outdoor shoots. Factors like the time of day, weather, and your location will play a role in how bright the light in your video is. Be aware of any glare or harsh shadows, which can be caused by shooting in direct sunlight. Filming on an overcast day or staying out of direct sunlight can help with these issues.


Be aware of any noise that could distract from your video, such as traffic, wind, birds, or people talking. Take time to scout your location before you shoot to make sure there are not any loud sources of noise nearby (busy road, HVAC units on building roofs, bus terminal, etc). Always test your audio setup before filming, and use a high quality microphone to generate clearer audio in these conditions. A shotgun mic held close to your speaker(s) is one option for outdoor shoots. You can also use a lavalier microphone.

3. Am I going to move the camera while filming or stay in one place?

Stationary camera:

If you are shooting with a stationary camera, your best option is to place it on a tripod. This will stabilize your video and create a higher-quality shot. If you don’t have access to a tripod, you can check one out from the Circulation and Reserves desk in the Undergraduate Library.


Moving camera:

Some video projects may call for the camera to move during the shoot. Holding the camera while shooting is an option, but it can produce shaky video footage. One helpful option to account for shaky footage is to utilize a shoulder rig. Some form of stabilization is recommended for shooting while moving to create a smooth, quality shot.

4. What equipment is available? Can I use what I already have?

Many people create videos using something as simple as a smartphone, so you might be able to use equipment you already have for your project. However, the Media Commons and Undergraduate Library also provide equipment and spaces to shoot your video. Let’s take a look at some equipment options:


If you choose to use your smartphone for your project, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind:

Stabilizing the video:

Avoid shaky cellphone video footage by using a cellphone-specific tripod or shoulder rig. If you don’t have this equipment handy, you can get creative and make a simple tripod using materials you already have handy, like cardboard:


Cell phones are capable of recording audio, but like internal microphones on DSLR cameras, it is not the best quality. We recommend utilizing a shotgun microphone or external audio recorder to pick up higher quality audio.

We also have a cellphone microphone kit available for check out:


Manual settings:

If you’d like more control over your smartphone camera settings, you’re in luck! There are many techniques and apps you can use to adjust the camera aperture, shutter speed, and exposure. Check out this article with more information:

Loanable Technology

If you’d like to borrow high quality video production equipment for your project, stop by the loanable technology selection at the Undergraduate Library. We provide a wide range of loanable technology for UIUC students and faculty, which can be checked out from the Circulation and Reserves Desk. Our collection includes cameras, tripods, microphones, laptops, and much more. Additional information about our equipment and check-out policies can be found here:

Media Commons Studios

The Media Commons also maintains a video studio in the Undergraduate Library, which is available for reservations. Our studio is useful for projects that involve shooting an interview, testimonial, or something that requires a green screen. However, we also have a black screen backdrop available.

The studio works best for videos that will be shot in one location with stationary cameras. There are currently two stationary cameras in the studio that capture both wide range and close-up shots.

The video studio provides ample lighting and a quiet environment for audio. Utilizing the studio also provides the opportunity to learn more about the video production process for any future endeavors that may call upon it.



The more preparation you put in before shooting your video, the more organized and enjoyable your video shoot will be. Taking time to ask yourself these important questions will also ensure that you’re using the correct equipment and technology, which will in turn help you create a higher-quality video.