Media $500 Video Tips

2014 Media Media $500 Video Contest

2014 Media Media $500 Video Contest

SafeLaunch Media $500 Contest Video Tips

Planning The Video Shoot

Step 1: Write a script

Write down what you want your characters and/or narrator to say. Then describe the visuals within each shot, including camera angles. Also include any music you plan to use (be sure that you are not using anything with a copyright). Make sure your script is detailed enough so you can plan each shot — but don’t get bogged down in too many details.

Step 2: Scout your locations

Think about where you’ll shoot each scene. In your driveway? On your street? Inside your car? Consider which locations will make the best visuals. Which are most “do-able?” Which might require getting special permission to shoot? Are they places where you can work safely?

Step 3: Develop a storyboard

A storyboard is simply a visual of what each scene will look like. The visuals can be as simple as a rough pencil sketch — just enough to give you the basic idea. In general, you should have one story-boarded frame for each scene or each time the camera angle or background changes.

Step 4: Create a schedule

Chart out the time you’ll spend shooting and editing. Then — stick to the schedule!

Step 5: Get permission

If you want to shoot on private property, get permission from the property owner. Likewise, if you intend to include people in your video, ask permission and have your actors sign the Contest Talent Form.

Shoot Your Video

From: The Law Encouragement Officer by Matthew Robertson

Positioning the Camera

  • You can make your shots more interesting by moving the camera around the scene.
  • If you want a smooth, rolling shot, position your camera on something that rolls and is fairly stable, like a wheelchair.Keep the camera on a shot for at least five seconds, even if your subject exits the frame. Holding shots in this way will be a big help when you begin editing.
  • When you finish a shot, shoot it again from another angle so you’ll have more choices when you edit. If you’re interviewing a person, always shoot “cutaways” that you can later edit into the scene to avoid long scenes of “talking heads.”


  • If you’re shooting outdoors, arrange people and objects to take advantage of available light. Early-morning or late-afternoon sunlight can give your video a beautiful “golden” look.
  • If you’re shooting indoors, place a few electric lights around your subject. (Lamps with clips, which you can find at a hardware store, are especially helpful.) Try to balance out any shadows on people’s faces. Using a large piece of white foam-core can help you bounce light onto the shady part of someone’s face.


  • Think about what you want to convey before you frame the shot. For example, wide-angle shots show a person’s location.
  • Use medium shots and close-ups to show someone’s expressions and emotions. You can vary your approach to scenes by using a wide, establishing shot that shows the viewer where you are, then cutting to a closer shot.
  • Cover up any brand names and/or logos on clothing, background items, props, etc. or just use plain, generic non-branded items.


  • Avoid shooting in locations with lots of background noise (including wind). If you hear a sound problem when you’re shooting, stop and fix it right away.
  • In each location you use, let the mike record some silence, with no one talking or any background noise. You can use these “room tones” to bridge cuts from one scene to another when you edit.
  • Remember to keep your screen size at its highest setting: 1920×1080 or 1280×720.

Edit Your Video

  • Use only the shots that you absolutely need to tell your story. Don’t use filler for the sake of making a longer video. Often, less is more.
  • Use edits to set the pace. In general, the shorter your sequences and the more edits you make, the faster the pace will be. How much you move the camera also plays a part in the tempo as do music and the composition of your images.
  • The right music helps set the mood as well as the pace. At the same time, remember that some scenes work better without music. Silence is a kind of soundtrack, too.
  • Unfortunately, you can’t use pre-recorded or copyrighted music unless you have a Master Use and Synchronization license! But you can use royalty-free music or have friends who are musicians, create music for your video. You can even make your own with software programs on your computer.
  • Take a break after you finish a rough edit and come back later. It helps to see things again through fresh eyes. And don’t hesitate to get feedback from others (like your parents or friends) while you’re editing. It won’t hurt — and might help the finished product.

Master Copy

  • Remember that your video could be aired on television as a SafeLaunch public service announcement.
  • When you are shooting, try to keep your screen size at its highest setting: 1920×1080 or 1280×720. Keep graphics and your main content/subject on the center of the screen.
  • Save an original master copy of your video on a data DVD and make a backup file. If technical difficulties arise during the submission process, you will need to resubmit your entry from the original copy.

Compressing Your Video

  • You’ll need to compress your video into a digital file in order to submit it online.
  • We can accept video files from most digital cameras and camcorders in the .wmv, .avi, .mov, and .mpg file formats.
  • Video Compression Recommended settings:
  • MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format
  • Standard definition (240p or 360p) to high definition (720p or 1080p), preferred but not required)
  • MP3 audio
  • 30 frames per second
  • Files larger than 50 MB are not recommended.

Some videos for inspiration…