Create a teaching video with video production best practices for teachers

Lights, sound, background: How to create a teaching video for your students that's production quality from your home studio
Molly McCracken
July 20, 2020

teacher creating a drone video

When thinking about how to create a teaching video at home, the best tip you will ever receive when putting together a video, whether it’s live, or recorded, is to have fun with it!

In 2020, almost anyone in the world can be creating, sharing, and publishing video content.

And they are.

We’ve all seen those stats that say that more than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

And do you think most of those videos are made with a big production budget and fancy equipment?

Of course not.

Just look at what your students are consuming. When they’re watching videos these days, they’re likely either watching:

  • Boxes being opened on YouTube (or)
  • Dance alongs on TikTok (or)
  • Influencers on Instagram

Most of these videos are shot (and even edited) with a smartphone.

They might be shaky, they might have jump cuts between takes, and they’re often just in a bedroom or basement. But they’re authentic.

Some of the most viral videos in the world are done on a shoestring budget with the same equipment you have at your fingertips.

All of this to say, when you create a teaching video that video doesn’t have to have Spielberg levels of production to be engaging for your students.

But at the same time, you don’t want it to look like it was shot from the same computer you used to access AOL.

Best practices for creating teaching videos 

Focus on your lighting, your sound, and your background. If you need to upgrade your equipment, you can check out these recommendations for must-have video tech and tools for educators.

Lights

Lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of a finished video, so make it one of your top priorities during filming.

One thing to avoid is overhead lighting – it can cast unflattering shadows on your face.

Windows offer a wonderful natural light source. You will want to be facing the window so the light shines on your face, rather than casting a light from behind you into the camera.

Working out of a dark space? You can also use multiple lamps to cast the type of light you want.

Do:

  • Face a lamp or window to highlight your face
  • Consider the time of day you’re filming and the direction of the sun as it changes through the day
  • Try multiple light sources– it can create a more balanced lighting at any time of day
  • Keep a tissue or blotting papers handy to reduce shine from bright lights
  • Adjust your camera. If lights or windows can’t be moved, maybe you can find a better position to catch the light in the most flattering way.

Do not:

  • Find yourself backlit with an overpowering window or lamp
  • Rely on sunlight as your only source of light. A rain shower could ruin your lesson plan halfway through filming.

Sound

Your audio quality is actually more important than your video quality.

Most people are willing to watch a video that’s a little grainy, but fuzzy, or hard to hear audio is usually enough to make anybody hit the “back” button within a few seconds of starting to play a video.

If you don’t have an external microphone to create a teaching video, wear your headphones. Whether you have a fancy headset or regular earbuds to plug into the computer, most headsets can give you better audio quality than the microphone built into your device.

Find a space you can close the door to. If you have access to a nice compact space, such as a den, closet, or car, your sound will be crisp and clear even on a budget.

Cars are excellent for insulating sound; just don’t do it while driving obviously.

Do:

  • Wear headphones if you don’t have an external microphone available to you. If you are looking for an external microphone, jump to our tech & tools article for help purchasing one.
  • Close your doors and windows.
  • Film in a compact space when you can.

Do not:

  • Keep the microphone close to your mouth, or on a lapel that brushes while you move.
  • Lean over and talk into your computer. That looks awkward!
  • Film in a big open space as it will create echoes and reverberations.
  • Film outdoors. While the light is delightful, nature can be too unpredictable.
  • Film videos while driving

Background

Where you take your video matters. When you create a teaching video, you and what you’re doing, should be the center of attention.

A pet creeping around the background, although adorable, is bound to take your students’ attention away. Likewise, a wall of family photos, a window to your backyard, or an open closet, is a ripe opportunity for students to pause and zoom in.

For your privacy, and your students’ focus, keeping distractions down is a must.

One easy way to get a professional look for your video is to use any solid-colored background. If you have a blank wall you can position yourself in front of, perfect. However, hanging a plain bedsheet, quilt, or a set of closed blinds, can offer sound alternatives.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking “well I want to show some of my personality” there are other ways.

You can film “home tours” (remember MTV Cribs?), show off your backyard, and do a remote show and tell, all the while keeping your video lessons focused on the lesson. You can also get on TikTok, as many teachers have done, to share more of who you are.

Do:

  • Find or create a simple background.
  • Use videos other than your lessons, such as a fun activity like “show and tell,” if you’d like to showcase more of your life in your videos. Pro-tip: You can even create a TikTok account just for this.
  • Keep your adorable pets off-screen while filming lessons, unless they’re directly involved in the content.

Do not:

  • Film videos in front of a busy space: Kitchen counters, closets, photo walls, and back decks are often not the best choice. However, if you’ve channeled your inner-Marie Kondo recently, prove us wrong.

Pro tip: Leave your set-up set up!

Once lights, sound, and background are set, your home studio is ready to roll.

But to keep the momentum going, you’re going to want your “studio” set up all the time.

Having a dedicated space to film videos allows for greater spontaneity and simplified the production of new videos.

Need a video? Pop over to your video “corner” and make it in a few minutes, rather than having to always tidy an area.

A camera stand with light and microphone

This is our Soapbox at the Spaces headquarters.

You can get the guide to setting up a Soapbox station from Wistia (Note: The cost of materials is around $500, so while it’s reasonable for a small business, it's not a small investment for a solo teacher.)

You can also head over to our must-have tools for teaching with video section to start acquiring upgrades for your home studio.

 

Molly McCracken

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