Here we show you how items that may be within reach in your own home could be used to create well-produced video resources.

Before hitting record

Storage

You need to be mindful of how much space is on your recording device. If your device doesn’t have enough space, you risk not being able to successfully save your recordings to use later.

Also, consider the storage capacity of your method for sending your recordings to your computer. For instance, with Voice Memos on iPhones, one method of sending the recordings is via the Mail app. There could be an issue if you have a file that is longer than 14 minutes, as this is the maximum limit of a sent file.

Whilst you will be able to chop down your recordings to send via Mail, there may be alternative methods you’ll want to use instead. Using Dropbox to send your recordings to your computer is a potential solution to this. It has more space and syncs changes made to files quickly. You could also use OneDrive and Files (on Apple devices).

Image of a man holding an iPhone in his hand whilst facing a laptop.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Airplane Mode

When using your smartphone (either for video or audio resources) ensure that airplane mode is enabled to prevent any notifications from other apps on your device disrupting the recording.

For example, if you receive a phone call, the recording will be paused. This could affect the quality of the recording when trying to continue your recording later.

Network Connection

Recording using an internet application, such as Zoom, means you are reliant on an internet connection.

This is also true if you are planning on using your phone as your webcam, as your computer and your phone need to be on the same Wi-Fi network to work.

If you are recording on your smartphone, using the camera app (without it being used as a webcam) so you are not reliant on the network connection. To clarify, you will only need a connection later when you are uploading to your computer.

Image by methodshop from Pixabay
Location

This is important for either video or audio resources. The eLearning team already has a page related to this topic: Video Basics.

For video resources, record somewhere with minimal background distractions to ensure more focus on the content you are making.

Record your audio in a quiet space when outdoor noise is minimal. This could be during the morning or the night, depending on where you are.

Try to record in a smaller space with sound-absorbing materials. These materials include: curtains, pillows, quilts and mattresses. While spaces with these materials are likely bedrooms, you could move some of these materials to a different space to create another area for recording.

Image by Ernie A. Stephens from Pixabay

Recording Equipment

Cameras

The eLearning team already have a page related to this topic: Video Resources. In the Training & Guides section, there is advice on how to shoot from your smartphone.

If you are working with a computer/laptop with no inbuilt webcam, using your smartphone could be a solution for you. It is also useful if you think the resolution from your webcam isn’t as good as you would like it to be. See below a video explaining how to enable a phone as a webcam by installing the Iriun app. The video demonstrates the full installation process.

A YouTube video from Kevin Stratvert on how to enable your Phone as a Webcam
Sharing your device screen

Screen sharing can allow for devices to be used as whiteboards; or to demonstrate apps.

Zoom Mobile App

Note for students: Media Services recommend that you use your student email to sign up for Zoom (on desktop and app) as you will have an upgraded account. Therefore, you will gain some extra settings and capabilities in Zoom.

There are two ways this app can be utilised.

  • Start a Meeting – this way is for when you want to run your meeting on your iOS or Android device.
  • Join your your meeting as participant – this is when you want to run your meeting from your computer but annotate on what you are sharing on your desktop with your iOS or Android.

Below is a video demonstrating how to wirelessly share your screen to Zoom. The demonstration includes both Apple and Android devices.

A YouTube video from Where is that Setting about how to share your smartphone screen to Zoom

On Android devices, there are some extra requirements to sharing your smartphone audio:

  • Android 10 or higher
  • Granted Zoom permission to record when prompted
  • Sounds from shared apps is allowed to be shared to non-system apps. Some apps may not allow this due to security or privacy reasons

Screen Mirroring (iOS Only)

On iOS devices, you cannot use the above method to annotate when sharing your entire screen into a meeting with these devices.

The method below works if you want to use the audio and webcam from your computer but also share a whiteboard, or annotate on a presentation.

  • Here are instructions on how to use screen mirroring and how to use a wired connection (this connection is only possible on a Mac.
  • You can also look at these instructions for how you can do this via Airplay

The video below elaborates on Zoom’s screen sharing capabilities, and how to share the screens of Apple devices.

A YouTube video from dototech about screen sharing in Zoom and how to screen mirror with Apple Devices
Lighting

The eLearning team has another page which explains some ‘quick wins‘ for recording video resources, including advice on how to improve lighting.

Lighting has a huge impact on video resources. See below a video detailing how lighting works and some cheap tricks for a good set-up with household items (and even an open Word document on your monitor)!

A YouTube video from Julie Schiro on Zoom lighting hacks
Outdoor Lighting

One of the many challenges of filming resources outside is controlling the light.

To tackle this, you can use bounce-boards. They help redirect some light, giving you more control of the scene. Whilst these can be bought, the video below shows you how can easily create a bounce-board with just a white t-shirt and something rigid (e.g. cardboard boxes).

A YouTube video from the Film Riot channel which demonstrate 5 quick tips for filming outdoors.

The weather outside will affect the natural lighting you are working with. The video below offers suggestions on how to make of most of lighting on an overcast day, which includes bringing a mirror with you (not just to monitor your appearance).

A YouTube video from the Cinecom.net channel about how to utilise outdoor lighting on overcast days.

The techniques for filming on overcast days do not necessarily apply to sunny days. The video below gives tips on filming in hard sunlight.

A YouTube video from the Cinecom.net channel about how best to film in hard sunlight.
Microphones

Gaming Headsets

Gaming headsets often have microphones attached, and you may be able to plug these into your phone/PC to improve the standard of your audio capture.

However, if using these headsets, bear in mind that the microphone is very close to your mouth, which can lead to popping sounds in your audio, or unclear audio. You may need to test the positioning of the microphone to see what works best.

Smartphones as recorders

Using a smartphone as your microphone offers flexibility in your recording location, particularly if you are not planning to video-record yourself.

Consider testing the audio recording in different rooms with different materials, to find the best location.

Below is an informative video from the BBC YouTube Channel on using your smartphone to record audio. It offers some advice on microphone positioning, as well as sending audio to other devices. The demonstration uses an iPhone, with the built-in app, Voice Memos. You can also look at Apple Store information for the Voice Memos app.

A YouTube video from the BBC channel on how to use a smartphone to record audio

Android devices have a built in voice recording app. Try Google Support and Verizon for further details. These websites also offer advice on alternative apps you can download if you find the in-built app is not sufficient, and how to transfer your recording to your computer.

The video below gives advice on how to record professional audio using smartphones, including information on how locations can affect recordings.

A YouTube Video by Tech Overwatch demonstrating how to record professional audio with a smartphone
Tripods

While recording, your device will need to be propped up and properly angled. Tripods can be useful to position your device without relying solely on the stability of your own/someone else’s hands. However, you don’t have to purchase a tripod to use one. Below you will find some guides on how to make your own.

Gift Cards and More

Got a gift card that you still haven’t thrown out? You could actually use it to make a makeshift tripod! The video below explains how you can easily modify a gift-card using a pen for marking and a pair of scissors. It also includes other ideas for home-made tripods.

A YouTube from the CNET channel about how to create three different tripods with household items

Rubber Bands

You can even equip the likes of a bottle with some rubber bands to make a tripod, which can be placed on top of a pile of books to keep the your smartphone at eye-level. Similarly, hangers with rubber bands and pens can create one. Take a look at the video below which shows how both can be done.

A YouTube video from the Cheekiemonsta channel on how to use household items to create two different tripods

Lego®

If you have children in your home, the chances are they have Lego®. Or maybe you have some? In any case, they can create a tripod/stand for your device. Watch the video below to see how to make a Lego® tripod.

A YouTube video from the BMSWEB channel about how to create a tripod using Lego

It is also worth mentioning the value of getting a pile of books and putting your device on top of those. This is an easy way to get the best position/angle for recording.

Shock Mounts

If you are recording with a phone/microphone that is lying on your desk, you could find that when you click through your slides or use desk items, it could end up on your recording.

Of course, most disturbances to audios can be edited out in post processing using simple audio editing, or using software like Audacity. However, bearing this in mind before recording could make the editing process less strenuous.

The video below demonstrates this potential issue, and how some household items can be utilised to create a ‘shock mount’.

A YouTube video from adlingtont about how to create a shock mount for your desk microphone

Branding Resources

This relates to visual identity of resources being made, including: colour palettes, logos, and recommended typography.

The visual identity page for the University could be a good starting point when considering how you want your resources to look.

Branding can increase the professionalism, and thus the quality, of a resource.