Since everyone has been working from home for the past couple months, I’ve received at least 100 video files, maybe more, from students, faculty, staff and alumni. With a little bit of video editing work, I’ve turned the self-recorded videos into video messages or montages with video reflections strung together to tell a story or share collective thoughts.

I’ve been impressed with the quality of some videos I’ve received, especially the ones filmed on smartphones. The majority of our cell phones now capture video in 4K resolution, so it makes sense the image would come across crisp and clear, making it simple to edit the footage and share it on websites, video sharing platforms and social channels.

Our creative team has run into problems with quite a few of the videos that have been recorded using web conferencing technology. In many cases, the settings have not been updated to capture footage in high definition, so we receive video files that have very low resolution. Those small files make editing brutal because no matter how great the message is, the footage is blurry especially when appearing next to another clip captured in HD.

To ensure the best resolution possible on your at home video recordings, our creative team created a cheat sheet to make sure your video messages shine when viewed online. We recommend to keep it simple and use your smart phone to record, make sure it’s turned in the horizontal position and prop it against a makeshift tripod to keep your phone stable and eye-level. It’s also key to find a quiet place to record videos with a nice backdrop that’s well-lit. The hope is, once you have a good recording system in place, it will be simple to record video messages on a regular basis without thinking much about your set up.

Smart Phone Filming Cheat Sheet. Find a quiet, well-lit filming location. Final a pleasant, neutral backrop like a home office or book shelf. For filming inside, face a window (with indirect sunlight) or light source so light appears pleasant with gentle shadows. Avoid sitting with your back against the window because it will create a dark silhouette. Stabilize your phone for filming. Lean your phone against something stable and sturdy like a computer monitor or stack of books. Position your camera at eye-level. Position your phone. Filming in the horizontal/landscape position will ensure the recorded video fills the screen; this is preferable for a video that will be posted on a web page or YouTube. Record the video. Check camera settings to ensure your phone is set to film in 1080p HD or 4K at 24 or 30 frames per second. Bring up your phone's video camera and press record. Speak at a natural volume and look towards your device's camera. Distribute the video. After the recording is complete, send the video file to the appropriate parties via email, text or Duke Box app. Common question: what should I wear on camera? Bright, jewel tones look best. Avoid prints and patterns which can be distracting.

Instructions for filming video messages or interviews from home using your smart phone.

Download the Cheat Sheet as a PDF