Documenting with Style

Teachers often make videos for the purpose of documenting—videos to record events, report achievements, archive learning, capture classroom activities, facilitate reflections, and celebrate learning. Get advice for filming and editing that can help your productions be super snazzy. See demonstrations of handy apps in action, and see the end results. Find out where to get copyright friendly music and how to edit that music to match your visuals. 

Document with video… Record Events, report achievements, archive learning, facilitate reflections, capture activities, curate photos and videos, celebrate learning

Thanks to Estee Williams for these notes…

Size and Orientation

  • Before you film, decide if your video will be horizontal (landscape), vertical (portrait) or square

  • Stick to this orientation

  • Typically, go with horizontal

  • Pay attention to where your fingers are when you shoot horizontally so they don’t cover the camera

  • Instagram story videos are vertical and are better shot that way

  • Youtube mobile app now supports full screen vertical videos (but will still have black space on either side when the video is watched on a computer screen)

  • Square videos are often used on social media so it looks decent on computers and mobile devices

  • iPad tip: double tap the screen to switch between standard (4x3) and widescreen. Standard will look good on the iPad, but the ratio is not best when you export to edit


  • Most phones can zoom, but it is a digital zoom so adds no details or clarity

  • It looks blurry and increases shakiness

  • Use “manual” zoom… i.e., move closer to what you are filming

Exposure and Focus

  • Camera app automatically adjusts lighting and pick a focal point

  • On an iPhone, you can tap to pick a focal point and you can drag the exposure control up and down by holding on the screen then dragging up/down.

Camera Movement

  • Minimize camera movement

  • Have movement within the still frame instead

Shot Size

  • Wide shots are fine to establish location

  • Wide shots don’t convey emotion and body language

  • Film so you can see the whites of people’s eyes

  • Mix in a few medium and wide shots


  • Light from the front

  • Backlighting makes people look like silhouettes


  • iMovie for Mac and iOS has trailer templates

  • You add your pictures and words while the app handles music and transitions

  • The Mac version has twice as many templates as the iOS version

Clip length

  • When choosing action clips, stick to clips less than 10 seconds

  • Changing the shot every few seconds keeps the video moving along and the audience interested

One Second Every Day (

  • App that reminds you to take a one second video every day

  • Splices all the seconds together for you

  • Teachers can use to create a video scrapbook of the school year

Think in Clips

  • Think of recording the clips to tell the story you want to tell your story (and that will look good)

  • Don’t record anything you don’t think you’ll use

  • Immediately delete clips you know you won’t use


  • When in doubt, cut it out

  • The shorter the video the better

Google Photos

  • Google Photos is awesome (it really is!)

  • Provides unlimited space to store photos and videos

  • Uses machine learning to find objects (and people) in your photos

  • In the iOS and Android apps, you can edit together a movie with up to 50 photos/videos and adjust the trimming of clips and music

Film in Clips

  • If you think/film in clips, your library will be filled with short videos

  • But then you have to splice them together

Filming Without Splicing

  • iOS app: VideoCam+

  • Android: CameraMX

  • These apps allow you to pause and resume recording

  • This leaves you with one video file without splicing or editing

Apple Clips for iPhone and iPad (

  • Record video

  • Add overlays

  • Live titles = captions of what is said in the clip

  • Search #ClassroomClips for examples

Master Music

  • Get free and copyright friendly music from the YouTube Audio Library

  • If your video is longer than your music file, drag the clip into the timeline again

  • Trim the end of the first instance

  • Trim the start of the second instance

  • Play around with the trimming until it sounds decent

  • When the music is longer than the video, trim from the beginning

  • Line up the end with the end of the video

  • Drag the beginning until it reaches the start of the video

  • In WeVideo, click the blue volume line and drag so that the audio will fade in


Interview Clips

  • You may have students or others talking in an interview style clip

  • Idea: download Flipgrid videos for interview clips

  • Add a B-roll in iMovie for iOS by adding a second video, clicking more (the three dots), and choosing Cutaway

Speed Things Up

  • Accelerate the pace of the video by increasing the speed of a clip

  • Hyperlapse from Instagram is an iOS app designed to smooth the shakes out of sped up video

  • Microsoft Hyperlapse is an Android app for shooting smooth and stable time-lapse videos (or enhance your existing videos)

Gear Spotlight: Handheld Stabilizer

  • A stand or tripod is helpful when the camera is staying in one spot.

  • A handheld stabilizer is an alternative when you are moving around

  • You can create a cinematic shot

  • Handheld stabilize uses a 3-axis gimbal to keep the video smooth

  • Amazon Link for DJI Osmo 2

Gear Spotlight: Wide Angle Lens

  • Allows you to capture 110 degree field of view while smartphones have 75 degree field of view

  • Allows you to capture more of your surroundings

  • Amazon Link for wide angle lens