Tips to Create Your Own Instructional Media From Home

A camera records a woman sitting at her desk

More people are turning to podcasts and videos to engage with students and colleagues at a distance. Educators have many options to easily craft and refine these types of content. 

DELTA’s Assistant Director for Instructional Media Production John Gordon is sharing tips and techniques to help you navigate the technology behind instructional media and develop powerful learning materials on your own. 

To get started, you will need a microphone and/or a camera. NC State University Libraries offer technology lending for a variety of audio and visual tools (availability may be limited).

Audio

When creating instructional media, start with audio. 

  1. Get close to the microphone. While you should not touch or breathe into the microphone, in general, the closer you are the better. 
  2. Remember that smartphones are both a microphone and a camera. Refer to Rule 1 when recording on these devices such as iPhones or Androids. 
  3. Consider recording narration separately. Add sound over presentations for enhanced audio.
  4. Eliminate hard surfaces. Place something soft, such as a small towel, in the middle of your desk to absorb sound. Sound bounces off hard surfaces and back into the microphone, resulting in poor audio. 
  5. Eliminate background noise as much as possible. Closing windows and doors can help reduce excess noise. 
  6. If background noise is unavoidable, acknowledge it and move on. The listener will likely accept and ignore the sound.
  7. Provide each speaker with their own microphone if possible. NC State University Libraries lend out microphones and other audio production equipment.
  8. Listen to your audio with headphones while recording to monitor how you sound. 
  9. Contact NC State University Libraries for individualized technology consultations.

Video

Take the following considerations as you move on to video production. 

  1. Avoid using the camera’s microphone. Instead, use a lavalier microphone attached to the camera.
  2. Make sure the light hitting your subject is brighter than the light in the background. Avoid shooting in front of windows or lights. The camera will expose the brightest object in the frame.
  3. Do not use automatic focus, exposure or white balance. These functions will change throughout the shot and distract the viewer.
  4. Light the subject whenever possible. Use a simple work light with daylight bulbs, typically available at hardware or large retail stores. 
  5. Use natural outdoor light as a source. As mentioned above, do not put a window in the background of your shot.
  6. Use close-ups whenever possible. 
  7. Shoot in landscape orientation when shooting with a mobile device. Avoid portrait (vertically) by turning your device 90° to shoot in landscape (horizontally).
  8. Try to “edit in-camera.” Editing will take more time than production or planning. Rehearse before shooting video, and then shoot only what you need. This will make editing go faster

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