Integrating Technology in the Second Language Classroom

Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio 
SUNY Cortland 
© 2017
 Video Capture (Filming)

This lesson will present a few basics for capturing a video scene for inclusion in a multimedia presentation.

Video cameras like this Sony Handicam (digital) used to be the way to capture video for a class project. Converting the video and transferring it to a computer could be a major undertaking requiring a steep learning curve.

Today a digital camera,




Digital video camera,


or smartphone can capture satisfactory video for our purposes, whether creating a student project or instructional materials. With wifi connections, videos can be quickly transferred from camera to computer without the need to plug in cables.

Basic Steps:

Following a few simple rules when filming for desktop video will improve the quality of the shot:

  1. Keep the background simple to focus attention on the subject.
  2. Make sure that your lighting is adequate.  More light will help you keep the subject in focus and make colors look better too.
  3. Avoid large differences in brightness between background and subject to prevent washing out detail in the subject.
  4. Use a tripod when possible.  A steady image can make a big difference in image quality.
  5. Double check the sound level.  It might be better to avoid using an internal microphone that is too far away from the speaker. Get the microphone as close as possible to the subject.  Shoot in a quiet environment, and monitor the sound during filming if possible or view the video right away in case you need to redo the shot. (It's much easier to redo the shot immediately than to come back to fix it the next day.
  6. The smaller the image size of the final product, the closer you should zoom in on the subject to create a close-up shot for your video frame.
  7. Keep it short and keep up the pace. Beginners tend to make shots too long. Long videos with little content take up space and time and slow down the rhythm without adding much to the overall quality of the presentation.
  8. Remember to check the focus. Sometimes an auto-focus will focus on something in the background and your subject will end up out of focus.
  9. On some cameras it may be necessary to set white balance, check for indoor/outdoor settings, turn off any date stamp. When all else fails, read the manual.

Video creates large files, so avoid occupying too much screen area with unnecessary background.  Stable backgrounds compress better than moving backgrounds, so try to avoid a lot of camera motion. Moving the camera or changing the frame in any way (zooming in or out) makes file compression more difficult because it generates a greater difference between video frames.

Sound is actually harder to do well than images, so don't underestimate the attention that you need to devote to getting a good sound track.  The environment is full of sounds.  Human hearing is all about filtering out the things that are not important and paying attention only to the important details of what we hear.  In a recording, we can hear all of the noises that we normally do not notice because our perception filters them out.  Make sure that the sound track includes only the sounds that you want.

The larger the screen, the easier it is to see facial features and the more screen area may be occupied by background.  Cinema, television, and computer screen video formats must take relative size into consideration when determining the best framing for the subject.  Which of the following frames is a better choice for your online digital video?

 The key to good video is to develop good habits, use the same equipment and techniques each time, and look for the quickest way to handle the tech so that you are free to focus on the pedagogy.

For more information:

Video Basics and Production Projects for the Classroom Video production technology page
10 Video Projects Every Teacher Should Try
20 video project ideas to engage students
Teaching filmmaking

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