Guidelines for creation of self-help videos at Texas Tech University


Introduction

As with all software, please ensure that your usage falls within the licensing terms. For instance, some software may not be licensed for use on TTU-owned devices.

Best practices for creating a self-help video

Determine audience
  • Self-help videos should always be created with a specific audience in mind.
  • Try to develop as many of your videos as possible with your customers as the audience (self help). In other words, instead of making a video "How to help a customer do XYZ", make it "How to do XYZ".
Define purpose
  • Before you begin making a self-help video, determine if a self-help video for the topic would be of value to your customers.
  • A self-help video for a topic that does not affect a majority or a specific subset of our customers and is not of high complexity would be unnecessary.
  • A self-help video for a topic that affects a majority or specific subset of our customers and is of high complexity would be ideal.

Production

Titles

Avoid "How to:" and similar words in the title. This is to save space to allow for more pertinent information. Keep your titles concise.

Develop a script
  • It is highly recommended that you develop the script before beginning to record the video.
  • Make the script more personable by including your first name.
  • Avoid slang terminology. Review the Spelling and grammar guidelines for knowledge base articles and Texas Tech IT documentation.
  • "Future proof" your videos by trying to keep specific details ambiguous. For instance, if Apple added a new feature in iOS 16, instead of saying that you need iOS 16 to see the option, you can say "iOS 16 or greater". Also, avoid phrases like "this new feature", because the feature will only be new for a short period of time and then your video will feel dated.
  • Collaborate with someone on the script. Use individuals who regularly contribute to official written communications.
  • A script should be clear and linear. To keep yourself from getting bogged down explaining every little thing, you should keep the scope of the video narrow. Let the video do some of the "talking" for you. The audience can see what you're doing, so you don't need to explain tiny details.
  • The script should sound natural when you read it. Write like you would speak. Ensure that it makes sense chronologically.
  • Eliminate wordiness in your sentences. Be concise.

EXAMPLE: "Trouble is caused when people disobey rules that have been established for the safety of all," can best be worded as "Disobeying safety regulations causes trouble."

  • Check for grammar, spelling, and phrasing mistakes.
  • Ensure that your script can be easily followed by reciting the script to others for feedback. Think, "Is there a way someone could possibly misunderstand what I wrote?"
  • Begin to think about the video stills (imagery) that will accompany your script.
  • If you intend to publish the video on YouTube, ensure the outro of the script includes text saying that the user can subscribe to your YouTube channel. Include one of your social media outlets in the outro, as well (e.g., Facebook or X). For instance, "Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and like us on Facebook."
Begin to storyboard (visualization of script)
  • Determine how it will be recorded. Camera phone? Screencast? A digital camera? When recording physical reenactments, a camera phone will work a majority of the time. Rental equipment is available from the University Library.
  • Determine what will be recorded in the video. It is recommended that you sketch each shot on a sheet of paper to start creating a sense of fluidity and sequence for your video. Simple stick figures/wireframes would do, as long as you can determine the direction of what will be captured in video.
  • Test your storyboard with actual people and determine if they are able to follow along with the direction of your storyboard. Improve the storyboard if the people you tested offer useful feedback that can help your audience to better understand the video.
  • Developing a storyboard will save you a tremendous amount of time during the recording phase because once you have established the direction of your video, you are less likely to make changes when you're done recording the video.
Consider drawbacks
  • Consider possible drawbacks for your video topic. For instance, if your topic includes the saving of credentials, this may later become problematic if they change their password online and would need to update the saved credentials in their software. Consider reminding the customer to keep in mind that their account could get locked out this way, or give them an alternative, such as not saving the password.
  • A negative part of video production is that it's not as easy as a screenshot to change or blur information that you don't want the audience to see. Keep this in mind when choosing a video topic. There may be considerable time involved in post production to alter the video footage to obfuscate such info.
Record
  • Before beginning to record, prepare the set or area where the recording will take place. Prepare any computer or device screen that will be recorded. Set up any temporary accounts that you need during the recording process, such as a "John Doe" or "Jane Doe" account.
  • Always do a trial run of each step/screen that you plan to record.
  • If you are recording a screen, keep the video and audio separate. This way you can reduce how many takes of a video you must do.
  • Always record in a quiet setting so that the audience can clearly understand what you're saying for the length of the video.
  • Don't speak in a low voice; be enthusiastic! Sound energetic and happy.
  • Speak in your own voice. Speak as if you are giving instructions to a person over the phone or in person. Make the instructions sound natural and not robotic.

If recording using a camera:

  • Ensure there is proper lighting in the recording area so that image quality is crisp and clear.
  • Ensure that there aren't miscellaneous items in your shot that could distract the viewer (e.g., food, drink, personal items, people, bright jewelry, loose clothing, etc.).
  • Consider posting a sign on the door which is conspicuous to clearly state that recording is in progress. This will minimize interruptions.

If recording a screencast:

  • Ensure that the brightness of the computer screen is high and of the best image quality (if recording it using a camera).
  • Ensure that there is no personal or sensitive information on your computer screen.
  • Close all programs that may interfere with your recording session.

Post-production

Accessibility
  • All self-help videos should be close captioned or uploaded with a transcript.
  • You are responsible for providing the transcript of the video so that the video can be accessible to all potential audience members.

Creating a video using Adobe Creative Cloud

A few notes before starting:

  • The same guidelines used for knowledge base article creation still apply when creating videos. If you need to rename a computer or use a temporary local account, do that. See the guidelines regarding screenshots for details in the section "Remove identifying info".
  • The transcript may change as you work on your video. This is OK. Try to keep it conversational.
  • Camera and accompanying equipment may be rented from the University Library for use in recording.

Creating your intro and outro with Adobe After Effects CC

Lower thirds are typically best created using After Effects (AE).

Reviewing the reference material below from these external sources will greatly help your understanding of the video creation process:

For recorded intro/outro that have a person on camera speaking, it would be best to have the lower third rendered with a transparent background, then used in a layer above the video in Premiere Pro.