Skip to Main Content Shenandoah University

Presenting Research: Video

Planning & Producing Video Essays

Don't wait until the last minute to get started with your video project. Planning and preparation are crucial to delivering your project on time. One of the best ways to prepare is to watch examples of video essays, documentaries, and interviews to notice techniques you would like to try.


Start by thinking about your audience. Who are they? What do you want them to experience, know, or do because of your project? How will you grab and hold their attention? What will they already know, and what will you need to help them understand through images, dialogue, and other sound?


Review any project instructions and goals as you draft your plan. If you're creating a narrative story with actors and props, draft a script first. If you're conducting an interview or capturing a conversation, write a list of questions to ask or topics to cover.

Before you begin recording, create a storyboard or at least a shot list. These tools will help you plan what images, footage, and sound you need to gather, either from existing source or through your own recording. 


Consider your environment for shooting your video. Do you need to search for and visit specific locations to find the right environment? Do you need to schedule your shooting around busy times, weather conditions, or lighting conditions during particular times of day or year? Do you need to ask for permission to use your preferred location?

Cast & Crew

Will other people appear in the video? If so, make sure they can accommodate your shooting schedule, and make sure you have permission to share the video containing their image with your audience. 

If you are producing your video in a group or with a partner, consider whether to assign or share responsibilities. Who will operate the camera, any lights, audio equipment? Who will keep track of the shot list and continuity? 

Props & Equipment

Will you need props for your video? Do you have a budget to rent or purchase them, or can you borrow them?

As for equipment, be sure to consider whether you need external microphones, portable lights, and accessories like batteries or memory cards in addition to a video camera. Students and faculty can borrow a range of equipment from Academic Computing Technology. Practice recording early so that you learn to make the best use the equipment you have. 


If you're combining recordings by more than one group member, try to record with similar equipment and conditions so that the recording quality is consistent. Consistent volume and clarity will help to cut down on the amount of editing you need to do.

Add music and sound effects to set the tone of your presentation. You can find free audio resources to use on the Free-to-Use Images and Clips page.

Saving & Sharing

Make note of any technical requirements for your project, such as preferred file type and maximum file size.

How will you share your video with your audience? Are you uploading it to your Canvas course, or will you need to host the video on a site like YouTube or a webpage of your own?

Free Planning Tools


Shot Lists

Free Editing Tools