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Creating Introduction Videos

Best practice in online and remote/synchronous course design includes the development of an Instructor Introduction Video that humanizes you, making you more than just a disembodied voice on Zoom.  Having the chance to meet you as a person, even digitally, helps students to forge personal connections with you early in the semester or even before the term, thus enhancing student engagement and improving learning outcomes.

We also recommend a separate Course Introduction Video that welcomes students by warmly providing important information like the purpose and goals of the course, strategies for student success, and first steps that students should take when starting the course.

Instructor Introduction Videos

  • A welcome to your students that includes an introduction to yourself, with information like your title and field of expertise;
  • Your educational and professional backgrounds;
  • Why you love your discipline and which courses you teach; and
  • What excites you about teaching and working with students.
  • We also recommend that you make your instructor introduction video universal so that it can be re-used for multiple classes over the span of multiple semesters.

Course Introduction Videos

  • The course’s name and number and how it fits into your program’s curriculum;
  • Why the course is significant and relevant for students;
  • How the course content is designed, organized, and delivered;
  • Specific and measurable learning objectives for students;
  • Expectations and requirements; and
  • Any special instructions for assignments.

Plus:

  • Avoid regurgitating the syllabus by focusing only on key points.
  • Avoid mentioning the term or year so that the video can be used for more than one semester.

Let the Center for Teaching and Learning help! We can work with you to create polished and professional introduction videos for you and your course through our Media Creation Team at no cost to you or your department. Our Media Creation Team has a broadcast-grade digital media studio, and our specialists and media producers have decades of experience in broadcast-quality media creation. You will present yourself and your course at the very best with our help and guidance.

Contact: digitalmedia@teaching.pitt.edu, 412-524-3335

Create it on your own! Short on time or want to get a video uploaded to Canvas ASAP? Use the One Button Studio at Hillman Library! We can also assist you with this DIY video production guide.

(1) Your text;

(2)  A personal computer with built-in or peripheral microphone and webcam (we recommend a camera that shoots 720p with a 16:9 aspect ratio) OR a tablet or smartphone (often featuring superior audio quality to what is available on a PC) with some way to stabilize the device for a good angle on your face, preferably at eye level;

(3)  Light;

(4)  A quiet space to record.

Your Text: You have a choice: do you want to speak from a script or work from an outline? Our veteran broadcasting professionals recommend a script, but some people prefer an outline.

 

Script

Outline

Pros Cons Pros Cons
No stumbling or fumbling, or uhs or ers, and a more polished and well planned presentation. Students will recognize that you invested effort in your video. Straight reading from a script can make some people sound canned and robotic. You remain free to improvise and be spontaneous and natural. You may seem unprepared or unsteady with a less smooth, choppier, and less professional presentation.
Easy compliance with Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, requiring that transcripts of multimedia be made available for accessibility and equity purposes. In a DIY setting, you are close enough to the camera that your eyes can be seen moving across your text on the screen, making it obvious that you are reading. You are able to look at the camera and make a more personal connection with your viewers. You will need to prepare a transcript after your recording is completed in order to comply with Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, which requires that transcripts of multimedia be made available for accessibility and equity purposes.
Easier to manage staying within a set length, ideally three to five minutes. Takes longer to create (although there is a return on that investment). Can be pulled together rather quickly. Can result in a rambling presentation that runs too long.

Your Space:

It is essential that you find a quiet and distraction-free location in which to record. Public spaces rarely make good recording locations. You should also consider potential distractions (e.g., kids, pets, lawnmowers, AC or fan drone, etc.). The Hillman Library Whisper Room can be a great choice, and you can borrow professional equipment to use while you’re there.

A lack of contrast between you and your background can ruin the quality of your video. The focus of a video is you, so you don’t want to let your background steal the show. There are two simple steps to follow to establish contrast in your videos:

  • Find a relatively plain background. A solid, lighter color will work best.
  • Wear clothing that sets you off from the background.

You will have the best luck using a plain background and avoiding rooms where you wouldn’t ordinarily have visitors.

Lights: 

Proper lighting an important element of any video. Use the simple techniques listed below to take maximum advantage of the lights around your office or home.

Lights from front, not behind

We tend to place them behind where we sit. The light illuminates the things in front of us, so this makes sense from a practical standpoint, but having your primary light source behind you can ruin the quality of a video. This happens because the primary light source is not illuminating your face, the most important part of the video. The best and easiest way to light yourself is to sit facing a window. Diffused sunlight illuminates you well, but if that isn’t possible, then bouncing light off the wall in front of you works well too.

Subject in video is too dark due to no lighting sources illuminating the front of the speaker

No light sources

Light source behind

Diffused sunlight

Here are some additional tips for planning and creating your video.

Equipment: Windows and Mac computers will default to the built-in microphone and webcam; if you are using peripheral devices, then make sure that these are selected as your sources in your recording program of choice. If possible, maximize the resolution of your camera and adjust the sensitivity of your mic so that normal conversation stays high in the green.

Webcams can have a limited field of view, so recording with them can be tricky. You might be looking at a very large window on your computer’s screen, giving you the impression that students will be watching your video at that size as well, but your recording will be significantly smaller. It’s therefore essential that you be close to the camera. Here are three photos for context, all taken with the built-in webcam on a 2011 MacBook Pro.

 

His face and features start to become harder to distinguish as he moves just a few feet away from the camera. Staying close is essential because it helps to preserve the nonverbal cues that you express with your face and gestures.

If you’re using a mobile device to record your video, make sure that it is in a vertical rather than a horizontal orientation. And no matter what recording medium you use, appear at your best by keeping it at eye level!

Subject in video shown 2 feet from camera

2 feet away

Subject in video shown 3 feet from camera

3 feet away (arm's length)

Subject in video shown 6 feet from camera

6 feet away

His face and features start to become harder to distinguish as he moves just a few feet away from the camera. Staying close is essential because it helps to preserve the nonverbal cues that you express with your face and gestures.

If you’re using a mobile device to record your video, make sure that it is in a vertical rather than a horizontal orientation. And no matter what recording medium you use, appear at your best by keeping it at eye level!

Action!

The process of finally recording a video of yourself can be uncomfortable for many people. We’re not used to hearing and seeing ourselves, and it’s easy to be overly critical. If you experience these feelings, try to flip them around to focus more on areas you can improve (like if you say “um” too frequently).

Use your voice.

Vary the tone of your voice, as well as your rate of speaking to avoid sounding too monotonous. But try not to go overboard with volume; it’s easy to push a microphone too far.

Relax your movements.

Try to relax on camera to help you seem more approachable to your audience. Avoid things that might distract (e.g., dangly or sparkly jewelry, constantly shifting in your seat, etc.). If you tend to use a lot of hand gestures, then try to slow them down. Swift movements can make your hands appear blurry.

Be prepared.

Keep your script or outline open on the screen in front of you in order to make it much less noticeable when you’re reading. Keeping a glass of water nearby may also be helpful. If you are recording a lot at once, your throat may go dry and affect your ability to speak. Remember to drink water frequently, to use hydrating cough drops, and to take frequent breaks between recordings.

Amp up your enthusiasm!

It’s hard to pack too much emotion into a video. Video flattens emotion, so it’s important to over-emote, almost to the point where you feel silly! This will look and sound more natural on the video than if you acted the way that you would in person. A “normal” performance usually generates a video in which you can seem emotionally bland. In other words, overact.

Final Steps:

Recording, saving, and publishing your video. In almost any situation, Panopto is the best choice for video distribution at Pitt. Once you have your video in Panopto, you can easily link to it or embed it in your Canvas course. The Panopto mobile app will also allow you to upload if you prefer that to the web interface. Find instructions on how to use Panopto for video recording and publishing in the General Information about Creating Multimedia For Your Course section of the Teaching Center Help Resources Canvas course.

Adapted from a resource published by Kent State University’s Online Learning Team, Office of Continuing and Distance Education.

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