Skip to main content

Digital Media and Innovation Lab

PSA Filming Best Practices

If you are in the film studio in Ellis Library, you have many filming resources at your disposal. You can check out tripods, DSLR cameras, and other equipment at the Circulation Desk on the second floor of Ellis (near the north entrance). If you have access to the lab and Ellis’s equipment, it is recommended you do the following:

  1. Click “Submit Your Request” on this page and reserve a time to film in the Digital Media and Innovation Lab’s film studio. If this is for a video in which you will need a script to read from a teleprompter, specify that in the request and a staffer will prepare the teleprompter for use.
    • You must also send the script to the staffer ahead of time, otherwise this will cut into the amount of time that you have to finish filming.
  2. Check out all necessary video and audio recording equipment from Circulation prior to your scheduled time. Dress appropriately for the filming if that is a concern. Bring a local storage device like an SD card or a USB drive if you would like the video saved there.
  3. Once a staffer allows you/your group into the space, they will ensure that the camera is turned on and will provide you with a microphone. They may ask you to speak for a few seconds to ensure that the audio is being recorded properly and if you can read the text on the teleprompter. They will address other lighting and shooting concerns.
  4. Once any technical concerns are addressed, you may begin filming your video!
    • If you need to restart your script from an earlier point, take a deep breath and give a second of silence before beginning to speak again. This will make editing in post-production easier.
    • Once you have finished reading your script, the staffer will ensure that the recording is sent to you in a timely manner.
    • Once you have finished filming, edit your video! We have another guide linked here which has instructions how to do things like chroma keying and exporting finished videos in Premiere Pro.

If you are unable to use the DMIL Film Studio for your PSA, not to worry! Though there may be a few more steps you must take on your end, you can still produce a high-quality video using the resources at your disposal.

  1. Acquire the resources you’ll need to film your video. Some subsequent steps will vary based on what specific equipment you have, but for the sake of this list, we’ll assume that you can get a standalone DSLR camera or camcorder to film with.
  2. Now, find a place to film. If you can, select a background that minimizes distractions. A solid blank background/wall can work just fine, especially if you aim to chroma key yourself later. Also ensure that your space is not noisy and, if possible, has a minimal amount of echo. Make sure that your face is visible and evenly lit as well.
  3. If you can, hook your camera to an external monitor (like a small TV or computer monitor). If you can’t do this, practice placing your camera where you want to place it and record a short clip of yourself speaking. Make sure that your camera is level with your head – either raise your tripod higher or lower your body so that you are looking at eye level with the camera. Play that clip back and make sure that the audio sounds fine and that you are properly in the frame and visible. Having a friend help you film can ease this process.
  4. Have a script: in a situation like the digital media lab, you would have access to a teleprompter. In lieu of that, having a script printed out, on your phone, or a monitor off-screen will suffice.
    1. If you mispronounce a word, remember that it can be fixed with a simple edit in the video editing software of your choice! Just take a deep breath, take a pause, and start from the beginning of the previous sentence. No need to start the entire PSA over if you don’t need to. Just remember to make that edit later.
  5. Once your filming is finished, transfer the contents from your camera’s SD card to your computer (or the computer you are going to edit on). For sake of convenience, make sure that the computer you transfer your raw video to is the one you are going to finish your project on. Transferring project files can be complicated and can lengthen the process of finishing your video.
  6. Edit and export your video! We have another guide linked here which has instructions how to do things like chroma keying in Premiere Pro. Given that you found a background that is fairly uniform in color (it doesn’t have to be a green screen, but that helps), chroma keying will work similarly to how it is laid out in your instructions. It may not work quite as effectively however, as the color of your background may not contrast from you enough. If that is the case, do the best you can to achieve the desired effect and judge for yourself whether you want to use the effect at all.

You can film your PSA videos using a phone! There may be a few additional/alternate steps needed, but the phone in your pocket has cameras and downloadable editing software that can be used to complete your film without the use of tripods or external microphones.

  1. With your phone in hand, find a place where you want to film. Your first choice in this scenario should be to have a friend hold your phone and assist in filming you. Alternatively, you can also film by hand, but make sure that you move the camera as little as possible if you have to do so.
  2. Whether you prop your phone up or have a friend help you film, many of the previous steps still apply. Have a script ready and off-screen if possible to read from. Hold your script slightly above your phone camera lens and behind the phone so that it seems that you’re looking directly at the camera. Run through what you are going to say several times to minimize hiccups in filming. Record a short clip of yourself to make sure that your video and audio look and sound great. Don’t be afraid to stop, take a breath, and jump back to earlier in the script if you trip over a word.
    1. YouTube videos tend to have jump cuts every few seconds because those creators are doing that very thing and editing out their bad takes in post-production.
  3. Once you have recorded your PSA, you now have one of two primary choices. You can either:
    1. Import your video from your phone to a computer where you can edit your PSA to completion.
    2. Edit your video using an app from the App Store/Google Play Store.
  4. It is strongly recommended that you transfer the video file from your phone to a computer and edit there, as you have access to video editing tools like Premiere Pro through Software Anywhere (or even free video editing tools like iMovie on Macs and Lightworks on PC). There are apps which could allow you to edit your video files and could allow you to finish your video projects on your phone. However, none of the apps on either app store have been tested, so a recommendation cannot be made as to which apps you could use at this time.