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Research Guides

WRR308: Writing about Plants and the Environment

Getting Started

Production is the second phase of video creation, where you record your scenes based on your storyboards and script. There are a few important points to consider during the production process; 

  • Will you need a camera and lighting equipment to film your scenes? 

  • Will you record your video through another medium, such as PowerPoint or another slide processing software? 

  • Do you have audio equipment to record your script? 


Here's a basic list of equipment you may need or want to use during the production of your video;

1. A Recording Space 

It is suggested that you use a consistent and preferably sound-proof recording area. It is possible to purchase foam panels or folding soundproof barriers to help control sound. This will provide more consistent and reliable sound quality. 

2. A Computer 

You will need a computer to save your .mp3, mp4, .wav, .MOV, etc., files. It is important to have a computer that has audio and/or video editing software, such as iMovie (find more options in the Editing Videos section!). 

3. Microphone 

For serious video recording and narration, you should not use the integrated microphone on your computer. The quality will not be clear and could affect the interest of perspective listeners and viewers. Use a real, external microphone. Whether it is a dynamic or condenser microphone can have an effect based on the format of your video. Dynamic mics are typically better when recording multiple people at the same time. Condenser mics have a wider frequency response and stronger sensitivity to sudden changes in pitch. Dynamic mics are more frequently suggested. 

A popular low budget microphone that is suggested is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB. It has USB connection and is also a dynamic professional-level XLR microphone. It is also suggested you add a foam ball to your mic to help control background noise. 

4. Headphones 

Headphones can assist in preventing mistakes. Listening to yourself speaking live can be unsettling, but using headphones will also help you not waste an hour of recording time if the sound is off. Also, earbuds are likely not good enough, you will need some level of external noise cancelling. It is also suggested that you avoid using open-back headphones for recording, because your microphone will pick up the sound. 

5. Cameras 

There are two main differences in the kinds of cameras you might use to shoot your video, and that’s whether you’re using a Mirrorless camera, or a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera. DSLR cameras are usually bulkier in form and come with both an LCD display screen and an optical viewfinder which allows you to see exactly what the lens sees. 

Mirrorless cameras don’t come with an optical viewfinder however, making them smaller and lighter, and are often better suited to recording video, with better stabilization, better video quality, and typically faster shutter speeds. While dedicated video cameras exist, mirrorless cameras often provide a more well-rounded shooting experience, and with the high price of most cameras, the versatility of mirrorless cameras is key.  

iPhones and other smartphones often feature relatively robust cameras and recording capabilities. While smartphones often suffer from a poor telephoto capabilities, they usually have very high-resolution sensors, autofocus, some rudimentary, built-in editing software, and make it easy to store, transfer, and distribute your footage. 

While mirrorless cameras and smartphones are well suited to video production without needing to buy an expensive cinematic video camera, these can vary widely in quality, price, and specification, so it's up to you to determine what works best for your particular project. Any camera can be used to make an effective video, so long as you use them well.  

Resolution and Frame Rate: 

While looking for a camera, a device’s resolution is a good metric for whether your video will look clear and not pixelated or blurry. Generally speaking, 4K resolution is the current universal standard for most cameras, though this is generally pretty high for most projects. HD or Full HD are just below 4K resolution, and also provide a decent viewing experience.

A camera's frame rate also gives you an indicator of how smooth and natural looking your video playback will look. Most videos need to be recorded in a range of about 24-30 frames per second in order to avoid both jittery or strangely smooth looking shots. 

6. Other Equipment 

Depending on the kind of cameras, microphones, and recording requirements you have, you may find a few more pieces of equipment useful. For instance, you may need a tripod with a mount that fits your camera. While these are not as expensive as the cameras themselves, it may be worth buying a sturdy, metal tripod over lighter plastic models, as these will generally be more stable.

You may also have more specific lighting requirements, requiring you to invest in light kits. Beginners should keep an eye out for Key Lights, Back Lights, and Fill Lights as a starting point. If you’re filming outdoors, you may need to acquire a reflector, a wide reflective panel that allows you to direct and redirect natural lighting.  

Equipment available at UTSC: 

PowerPoint Videos

If you don't have access to camera equipment and you're looking for a simpler production phase, you can turn presentation slides into a video using PowerPoint’s built-in video recorder. When recording these slides, all narration, animation, cursor movements, or Audio-visual clips you include in the presentation will be saved in video form, allowing you to produce films directly within the PowerPoint dock.  

Once you’ve created your slides; 

  • Select File > Export > Create a video. 

  • Select the quality of the video: 

  • Ultra HD (4K) - Largest file size and ultra-high quality (3840 x 2160). 

  • Full HD (1080p) - Large file size and full high quality (1920 x 1080). 

  • HD (720p) - Medium file size and moderate quality (1280 x 720). 

  • Standard (480p) - Smallest file size and lowest quality (852 x 480).  

  • You also have the option to use recorded Timings and Narrations, which allow you to control the speed at which your slides are presented, and when your audio narrations begin and end. 

  • In the Seconds spent on each slide box, select the default time you want to spend on each slide. 

  • Select Create Video and save your file. 


Here are some more detailed Instructions on Creating a Video with PowerPoint, as well as some information on How to Add Narrations To Your PowerPoint Video !

Heads Up!: Most presentation slide platforms allow you to carry out similar recording functions! If you don't usually use PowerPoint, check to see if your preferred platform has similar capabilities!

Recording Audio and Voice-Over

While creating your video, you may find you want to include some form of voice-over or narration. In order to record voice-overs, you’ll need a microphone and audio recording software.  

Audacity: Audacity is an open-source, cross-platform audio recording and editing software that is great for beginners and casual video-makers. Audacity supports a wide range of audio file formats and gives you access to several features, like pitch adjustment, noise reduction, and sound effect additions. Audacity is perfect if you’re looking to edit and manipulate audio. 

GarageBand: GarageBand is a free, pre-installed audio recording studio app included on all Apple computers, and thanks to its intuitive user interface and wide variety of features, it is highly recommended for beginners. While Audacity and Garageband are both capable of recording and editing audio, Garageband is primarily used as a full audio workstation, especially for creating and editing music.  

PowerPoint: PowerPoint Narration/VO PowerPoint offers a free and effective voice over feature that’s straightforward and easy to use. In addition to allowing you to narrate while recording your presentation slides, PowerPoint allows you to manage these audio recordings. You can record audio continuously, on individual slides, time when your audio triggers in your video, and annotate your audio recordings with the pen and highlighter tools while editing. 

Be sure to keep these tips in mind when recording your narrations; 

  • Record your audio in a noise-free location  

  • If your computer has a noisy fan, move as far away from it as possible. 

  • Speak in a consistent, projected, and clear voice. 

  • Speak into your microphone from a distance of about 1-2 inches. 

  • Ensure you are reaching optimal levels in your recording software (averaging between -6 and -3 dB). 

  • Always create a test recording and listen to it before you begin. 

Animated Videos

Depending on your assignment guidelines or project prompt, you may decide to create an animated video! Here are a few free animation programs to choose from to get started with creating animated videos; 

PowToon: PowToon is an animation software that allows users to create some impressive visual content for videos and presentations. Animated designs and templates give users a helpful starting point to create animations and a visual identity for your video but does suffer from a lack of free features.  

Blender: Blender is an open-source 3D modelling software that allows users to create 3D models, animate those models, and create videos with those animations which can be included in your videos. While Blender is free and boasts an intuitive user-interface, its large suite of features can be overwhelming at times for beginners.  

Adobe Creative Cloud Express: Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a free animation software that allows you to animate images and designs. With a relatively restricted suite of editing tools and animation features, Adobe Express is great for producing simple graphics and provides a number of flexible templates to build your work from. 

OpenToonz: OpenToonz is an open-source animation software which maintains a large suite of 2D animation features, from digital drawing tools, animated special effects, frame-by-frame animation, particle animation, and so on. OpenToonz may have a steep learning curve but is a great resource for professional level animation software at a completely free and open-source level.