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George Mason University

Honors 110 Virtual Research Exhibition

Are you an Honors 110 student prepearing to create a video about your project? If so, how would you do it? This page will help you get started.

If you can talk about your project and already have some visualizations from making a poster or PowerPoint presentation, you are already most of the way there to making a video about your research.

It really isn't hard and can be very rewarding!

This page answers a lot of questions you might have along the way, but don't feel overwhelmed! You probably already have the tools you need and can find a way to make a video appropriate to your technological resources, abilities, and aptitudes. 

Who can submit videos to the Honors 110 Virtual Research Exhibition?

Each class will have the opportunity to select two representative projects for inclusion in the Honors 110 Virtual Research Exhibition.  In some classes, students may be asked to make videos of their research presentations for class. This page will help if you have been asked to make a video for class or if you have been selected to participate in the Virtual Research Exhibition.

Get Inspired

Most of the students in this playlist weren't sure that they could make a high-quality video, but by following the tips on this page and by getting some help from the Honors College communications team, they were able to make truly inspirational videos. You can do this too!


Planning your video

How do I get started?

The first choices you have to make are about the format of your video. Are you going to include video of your face in the video or just talk over the powerpoint slides? Are you going to try to record it live in one take or are you going to do some video editing to put it together? 

What goes in my slide deck? Do I need a script?

Most of the time, it will sound and look better if you are not just reading a script. Of course, you definitely need an idea of what you'll be saying, but that could just mean having a few talking points associated with the slides you plan to use.

If you already have a slide deck that you created for class, you can probably just use that. If you are working on developing a slide deck right now, we created this tutorial video with tips:

If you have a well-structured slide deck, you probably don't need a script that is written down. It's probably better just to practice talking through your talking points a few times, but it wouldn't hurt to do this with the camera or audio recorder on. If you are editing after you record the video, you can even combine some of the best parts together from several run-throughs or cut out the parts you don't like. 

If you decide to use a script, you'll need to practice a few times until you can do it without sounding like you are reading or giving a speech. A more conversational tone is good.

Should I record it live in one take or edit it afterwards?

You can do it either way. There are advantages to both approaches.

Live video recording in one take. Some people find it easier to just record a live video while they control a PowerPoint presentation, since this is a lot like giving a class presentation. If you decide to do that, tools like Zoom or Kaltura can make it pretty easy, but you should probably be prepared to do multiple takes before you get a version that you like: the advantage of an in-class presentation is you do it once and then you are done. When you are recording, it is easy to find parts to be dissatisifed with and end up recording a lot of versions.

Edit it afterwards. While a lot of us think about video editing as a hard and time-consuming process, it really doesn't have to be. What's more, most of us either already have easy-to-use tools like iMovie or can get free easy-to-use tools like OpenShot to do the editing. If you edit afterwards, it's a lot easier to fix little mistakes, edit out bloopers, and make the video look more professional. This might end up saving you time and often ends up producing a better quality video. It does, however, require that you learn some simple software like iMove or OpenShot.

 

Should I include video of my face or just voice over my slides?

Having even a short clip of you talking before and after your slides will dramatically improve most presentations. You can achieve this in a "live" video recording of your presentation or by editing a video you make afterwards.

If you are able, it's often helpful to intersperse your video with shots of your face, since this tends to help humanize the video. 

That said, you can definitely make a perfectly acceptable video with just a voice over slides.

If you decide to include a video of your face, there are a few ways to do it:

  • Begin and end with video of yourself, but just narrate over slides in the middle. Starting and ending with video of just your face can really help establish your voice and help your audience connect with you. Even if you are planning on trying to record your video live without editing, you can do this using the tools in Zoom or Kaltura Capture that you will be using to record the video.   
  • Include video of yourself throughout, interpersed with slides.  ​If you just give the talk looking at the camera, then cut out the parts you don't like, you can edit to add the slides where they are needed. If you do it this way, you can even use the slides to smooth over the places where you made cuts in the video, so that it isn't so evident that you cut parts out. You also have more flexibility to add or subtract slides, as is most appropriate to your presenation.
  • Small rectangle of video in the corner. A lot of tools like Kaltura and Zoom allow you to record videos that have a little video of yourself in the corner while you go through a slide show. This is definitely better than no video at all. With some practice, you can combine this with the other techniques. Be mindful that the video isn't covering over content you need in the slides: you may want to design them with this in mind.
  • Side-by-side video and slides. Some tools allow you to have side-by-side video and slides. This can be kind of awkward when viewed on small screens, since the slides are often too small to read.  
How long should it be?

In general, we recommend keeping your video to 3-5 minutes in length, but if your Honors 110 professor told you a specific length, follow their instructions! If you are unsure of the desired length, then please contact your Honors 110 professor and discuss whether a longer or shorter video is appropriate for the requirements.


 

Capturing your video

How do I get started capturing the video?

The easiest approach is probably to just use whatever you already have. Do you have a mobile phone? If so;, that means you have a good camera and microphone. Does your laptop or computer have a web camera, too? If so, that means you have a choice between two camera/microphone combinations. Test them out and see which one works better!

You almost certainly already have all of the software you need to record your video as well.

Do I need a fancy camera?

You don't need a fancy camera.

In most cases, the best camera available to you will be on your mobile device, but many laptops have decent cameras as well.  If you use your mobile device, you will need to edit your video afterwards to incorporate any slides or visualizations you might have, but this isn't too hard to do. 

Do I need a special microphone?

You need a microphone, but it doesn't need to be special.

The microphone on most mobile devices is quite good and many laptops or webcams have good built-in microphones as well. If you have an external microphone or a microphone of some kind, you could try it, but it probably isn't necessary.

The audio is probably the most important part of the video, however. So we do recommend that you test your microphone(s). Very often, your mobile device will have a much better-sounding microphone than your laptop, but not always. Sometimes laptops also have loud fans that can interfere with your audio quality.

Experiment with the microphones available to you and find one that sounds okay when you listen with headphones. In any case, just use what you have.

Do I need special software to make the recording?

If you are using your mobile device, the camera software that comes with your device can probably capture the best-quality video of all of the tools available to you.

If you are using a laptop, you might need some kind of video capturing software. The good news is that you probably already have easy-to-use tools:

  • Camera Application. Most laptops have a webcamera these days and there is built-in software that enables you to capture video using the webcam. This is the best option if you plan on adding your slides to the presentation afterwards. On Windows devices, you can use the Camera application. ChromeBooks also have a Camera application. On Mac devices, you can use the PhotoBooth application. 
  • Videoconferencing Software. You probably have used Zoom-like tools for videoconferencing already, but you can also record a video using these tools. Just open up a meeting with just yourself and turn on "record." You can even turn on screensharing, if you'd rather capture the slides as part of the video, rather than editing them in later.  If possible, record to your local computer rather than the cloud so you can get a higher-quality video file. Here are instructions from Zoom. You can achieve similar results with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Google Hangouts, WebEx Meetings, and other similar products.  
  • Kaltura Capture. If you open up Blackboard and go to the "MyMedia" tab, you'll find options to use Kaltura Capture, which enables you to record video, video and a presentation, or just a presentation with a voice over.  This software is exceedingly easy to use, but sometimes can produce lower quality or laggy video on some computers. 
  • PowerPoint. The desktop versions of Microsoft PowerPoint have tools for recording narration and slide timing. Once you are done, you can export to a MP4 video file. This is a very easy way to create a recording, but has some limitations because the narration is attached to individual slides.
How do I make my video look good?

  • Experiment with lighting.The most important thing is to be in a well-lit room. The video may look grainy or worse if your camera is trying to compensate for low or uneven light levels. Consider moving lamps around in the room until you are well-lit, but not washed out. It is very important that you don't have any bright light sources behind you within the frame. 
  • Position yourself. It's often best to position yourself near the middle of the frame from the waist or chest up. Hand movements can expressive, so if you are someone who speaks with your hands, you can experiement with getting closer or further away from the camera so that you can incorporate them. If you are awkward with your hands, you might want to just do a chest-up video and act like a talking head.
  • Position the camera. You really want it close to eye level. If it is looking up at you, everyone will be looking up your nose, or you'll look like you are looking down on the viewer.  If it is above you, you might look like you are craning your neck. Set your mobile device or laptop on some books and get it as close to eye level as you can manage. 
  • Use landscape mode.  Tik Tok-style/portrait videos might have some uses, but the video you are making should be in landscape mode. 
  • Check your camera resolution. Most devices allow you to set your resolution. Full HD (FHD)/1080p (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall) is plenty and will look great. You'll have a hard time working with a higher resolution file, so there is no reason to set it at 4K or another higher quality setting, if your device even allows this. If you device only captures in HD/720p (1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall), that's going to work great, too.  You can definitely work with lower resolution like 480p (848 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall), but it mgiht not look as good as you would like. It will be fine, though!
  • Be aware of your background.  A lot of video applications have tools that can replace your background, but they often look kind of bad. If you can find a plain background or something that looks professional, like a bookshelf or something like this, it might be better than an artifical background. Things like spinning fans the background can be remarkably distracting, so if you can find a still background, that's best.
  • Avoid busy patterns on your clothing. Certain busy patterns - especially narrow line patterns - can produce a suprisingly vertiginous effect when they appear on video recordings.
  • Be careful with cue cards. It might be tempting to have cue cards or a script, but if you do so, you'll want to be careful about how you use them. If your eyes are moving all around in the video, people will notice and it can be kind of disconcerting if you are looking away from the camera or looking back and forth. You can either lean into this by making your cue cards visible in the video or try to avoid it by making sure that each time you look at a cue card or script, you take a minute to look directly at the camera and breath deeply before your begin talking again. You can then edit out the gaps afterwards.
  • Look at the camera. It is tempting to spend a lot of time looking at your Slide Deck or at pretty much anything else, but if you can look directly at the camera for most of the presentation, it will look more professional. It sometimes is useful to put something to focus on near the camera to help with this. (Googly eyes on either side of the camera works great.)
How do I make my video sound good?

  • Find a reasonably quiet place. There's nothing more annoying than making a great video and then realizing you can hear your roommate, the washing machine, or the air conditioning in the background. That said, a little background noise isn't a big deal and sometimes it can't be avoided.
  • Listen for fans. It's really hard to reduce the white noise in the background of a video. If you have a fan or climate control system running, consider turning it off while your record or at least moving away from it. If your laptop has a loud fan - many do - consider using a mobile device instead. If you need to use the laptop and the fan runs intermittently, see if you can get a take when the fan isn't running.
  • Listen for echo/reverb. Some rooms have a lot of reverberations in them. If you can find a room that echoes less, your audio will sound better. Some big open rooms are especially bad, while a smaller room with a bed mattress, some couch cushions, or clothes tossed around (really!) can sound pretty good. 
  • Speak clearly, confidently, and loudly. The software you record with may try to compensate for voices that are too quiet, but the result is that they amplify the background noise in the room. You don't want to be yelling, but if you can be louder and still sound natural, it will help a lot.
  • Record all of the audio at once. If you plan on editing your video, make sure to go ahead and record any parts that have audio all at once, even if it take multiple takes to get it all. This way, you'll be speaking at nearly the same volume and the sound will be similar between different clips. If you have to re-record some audio on a later day, try to do it in the same room, with the same microphone, using the same software, with the same settings. Try to speak at the same volume, if you can. Changes in audio quality and volume during a video can be jarring. Some issues like this can be fixed while editing and minor issues are no big deal. The goal is just to do your best, not to make a perfect recording.

 

Editing your video

Do I need special software?

No, you don't need fancy software! 

Students with Macs or iOS devices may either already have iMovie installed or be able to get it for free. We've created a little tutorial to help you with using this software and would be glad to schedule a time to help if you get stuck.

Students with Windows computers may need to install new software, but the free OpenShot.org software is as easy as iMovie and works fine on most computers. We've created a little tutorial to help with using this software and would be glad to schedule a time to help if you get stuck.

If you are interested in learning to use professional quality video software, Adobe Premiere is available in the CLUB lab or for $19/month to students. You can also install Davinci Resolve for free.  

I've recorded my video and now I want to add my slides. What do I do first?

You'll want to export each slide from to PNG or JPG files. To do this in PowerPoint, follow the instructions on this page. If your slide deck is a PDF, you can also export to PNG or JPG using Adobe Acrobat Reader or Apple Preview. 

 

How do I use iMovie to edit my video?

iMovie support is a remarkably good resource to get down the basics and there are a ton of great videos on YouTube! 

The Honors College communications team made this brief tutorial, which you might find useful:

How do I use OpenShot to edit my video?

The first time you open OpenShot, it will walk you through a tutorial that helps you get started. There's also a pretty good User Guide and several good video on YouTube. 

The Honors College communications team made this brief tutorial, which you might find useful:


 

Posting your video

My project was selected by my class. How do I get help from the Communications Team creating and posting the video?

If your project was selected by your class for inclusion in the Honors College Virtual Research Exhibition, the Honors College Communications team can help you with the process of making your video. They can:

  • Consult with you about your slide deck or your talking points
  • Offer you graphic design assistance
  • Help you through the process of creating your video and audio
  • Help you through the process of editing your video
  • Add a graphics package like you see in the "Get Inspired" videos above,
  • Help correct minor issues with color or lighting in your finished video
  • Help correct minor issues with the audio in your finished video
  • Post your video to the Honors College YouTube channel
  • Help you get the transcription of your video out of YouTube.

For help with any step of the process, please use this form to request help. You'll be contacted within about 72 hours by a communications team member.

How do I post my video so that other people can see it?

If you made your video for a class assignment, make sure to follow the instructions provided by your professor. You can post your video using the MyMedia tab in Blackboard and/or to a personal YouTube Acccount in order to share it with a class.

If your project was selected for inclusion in the Virtual Research Exhibition by your class, the communications team would be proud to post your video to the Honors College's YouTube channel.

You'll need a link to the video on YouTube to submit it to the OSCAR Celebration of Student Scholarship site for inclusion in the Honors College Virtual Research Exhibition, since most videos are larger than the 100 megabyte maximum for submitting directly to the OSCAR Celebration of Student Scholarship.

My video was selected by my class. How do I submit my video to the OSCAR Virtual Celebration?

By Wednesday, December 2nd, you will need to submit your video to the OSCAR Virtual Celebration of Student Excellence page. 

You will need an abstract (no more than 250 words), a text transcript of the video (YouTube will provide a pretty good transcription just a few hours after you submit it), and either the video (<100 megabytes) or a link to the video (on YouTube).

I need a transcription of my video. How do I get one?

If you upload your video to YouTube and wait a few hours, you'll be able to copy-paste them from YouTube's auto-captioning tool. These captions are not perfect and might need to be edited. To do this:

  1. Open the video in YouTube on a computer.
  2. Click the "three dots" menu underneath the video.
  3. Select "Open Transcript" from the resulting context menu.
  4. The transcript will appear on the right of the video. You can copy-paste it.