Videography is a powerful communications tool. It can engage and tell a story that will stick with someone long after being viewed. When strategically planned and well-produced, video can be one of the most effective ways to reach an audience.

It is important to use professional videography whenever possible. For help coordinating a video shoot, connecting with a freelancer or consulting about any projects or workshops, contact Amanda Zettervall, director of visual communications and production, at azettervall@unc.edu.

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Tone and Mood for University Videography

University videography should reinforce Carolina’s friendly, open culture and academic excellence. Although subjects and stories will vary depending on the type of video being produced, all videos should reflect these core values of the University.

Essential Foundations for a Great Video

A straight and stable shot will allow the viewer to focus on the subject and story instead of trying to correct the movement and/or angle of the camera to be balanced. For this reason, it can be advantageous to use a tripod during video shoots. There are also tools available to help stabilize moving cameras if the location is not stationary.

Noise interference can distract from the story being told as well as obscure the words of the speaker. Try to keep the background noise to a minimum, or non-existent, if possible, unless the noise helps to tell the story. Using a good mic is essential in video recording so that the viewer isn’t distracted by background noises unrelated to the shoot. Clear audio is one of the most important aspects in keeping viewers engaged.

The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline for creating well-balanced scenes. Utilizing this rule will add visual interest to your videos by placing the subject matter in an area where the viewer’s eyes are naturally drawn. An example of the rule of thirds grid is illustrated below.


Rule of Thirds Grid

Example Using Rule of Thirds

Lighting can set the tone and change the mood of a video. Position the subjects and focus of the shot so that there is not a major light source behind, above or to the side of them. Avoiding harsh lighting will eliminate unnecessary shadows and make the subject appear more natural in the environment.

It is best to shoot video horizontally so that it can be used on the most platforms possible.

Some equipment will automatically focus on areas slightly off the intended subject, such as the speaker’s ear instead of his or her face. Check that the subject is fully in focus before beginning to record.

An ideal video length is typically less than two minutes. When considering its use on social media, cutting it to be about 30 to 45 seconds long is preferred. Attention spans are typically short; getting the message out quickly and in an engaging manner will help keep audiences watching to the end of the video.

The University continues to make great strides toward accessibility. Captioning videos is a requirement for any unc.edu address and social media channel. For assistance with captioning, contact Amanda Zettervall, director of strategic resources, at 919-843-4967 or azettervall@unc.edu.

Videography Resources

Multimedia Database

The Office of University Communications provides a photography and videography database in order to help enhance materials created for the University. Please note that no image or video may be used for commercial or advertising purposes without written permission from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, contact Jon Gardiner, University photographer, at jon.gardiner@unc.edu.

Video Slates

Video slates create a consistent branding opportunity to end a video. Video slates can be downloaded on the Resources section of this website.

Consent Guidelines

A release is needed in the following situations:

  • When asking people to engage in an activity in which they are not otherwise participating
  • When filming students in a classroom or residence hall (or some other venue in which they might otherwise have an expectation of privacy) and their faces will be identifiable
  • Anytime a minor is filmed (under the age of 18)

The University’s consent forms are available for download. When using the electronic consent form, please ensure the instructions listed on the first page of the PDF are followed.