Video Production Guide

What follows are some things to think about as you begin the video production process.

First Things First

Always ask yourself: “Is video the best way to convey the story I want to tell?”

What’s the Story?

Even though you don’t need to have a written-out script, you should know ahead of time the through-line of the video. What is the theme? What are the key points? What should the people watching the video take away from it?

Who Are the Players?

Once you know what kind of story you want to tell, you need to identify who will be telling it. Will the video feature a narrator? Or will your interview subjects tell the story through their answers to your questions? Will you tell them what to say? Or will you let them answer your questions in their own words? (This final way tends to work best; you come up with questions that get at the points you want to get across, and let them say it in their own words. Your taped interview isn’t going to be live, so you can have the interview subject repeat their answer if the answer doesn’t come out the way you’d like.)

You want to make sure your interview subjects are able to convey themselves on camera clearly, concisely, and correctly. A pre-interview, where you talk over the phone or in person and go over the kind of questions you’re going to ask to find out how they’d answer, is strongly recommended. This will serve the dual purpose of giving you an idea of the types of video you might need to cover the interview(s).

For a video about a college program, it’s always a good idea to hear from at least one, if not two, professors/instructors, and one or two students. Realize that the more people involved, the more logistics that will be involved, and to keep the length down, you may only be using 30 seconds from each person, which works out to about two soundbites each. (See: Video Length.)

You should have at least two voices in a story. You should try to reflect the diversity of the campus: include both men and women, people of different ethnicities, and ages.

What’s the Video?

Interview Questions

A few technical notes:

Picture of video interview subject

Video Permission


If you are using music, you must make sure it is not copyrighted material. The Video Production Center can give you access to music that is OK to use.

Video Format

Video Length

The average television story is less than 2 minutes. (The standard “pkg,” or set of tracked, packaged elements, is 1:20.) It’s like that for a reason. People who are watching television can be simultaneously surfing the net, making a snack, and talking on the phone. People watching videos online can have just as many distractions. (The University of Louisville suggests keeping videos shorter than 3 minutes; the Office of Communications’ recommendation is that promotional videos should be no more than 5 minutes, with 2-3 minutes a more preferred length. If it’s under a minute, the audience might feel a bit shortchanged.) Keeping web videos short also lets you keep the file size small, which uses less bandwidth and loads faster.

Tech Tips & Terms

We can provide more details about each of these things, but here are just some general things you want to keep in mind:

Student in classroom

Student in classroom

Picture of professor in classroom

Picture of students in gym

Students in gym

Two people sanding a surfboard

Professor in classroom

Student in classroom


All videos that appear on the university website, and that promote university events and programs, should be properly branded.

IT Web Services, Creative Services, and the Office of Communications have developed a branded opening sequence (below) and closing graphic (also below) compatible with iMovie, Premiere, and Final Cut.

Opening Sequence

Picture of campus from above

Picture of the University of Massachusetts Boston campus with the logo on top of the picture

Example of a slide for a video sequence, with room for text to be entered

Closing Graphic

Photo of the campus with the university's web address at the bottom

If you are using lower thirds (also known as supers and chyrons), you need to use the following template, which is available upon request.

Picture of professor being interviewed

Don’t change the fonts or size of the UMass Boston logo.

Video Approval Process

All videos embedded on must be approved by the Office of Communications. All videos that are on the UMass Boston YouTube channel must be approved by Senior Web Designer Lisa Link. See Video Guidelines: Video Process for additional information.


These are just some general principles/concepts. If you would like additional information, contact the Office of Communications, Video Production Center, or the Digital Learning Studio.

Last Updated: January 9, 2012