Texas A&M University System Video Guidelines

Introduction

These guidelines apply to video produced for an external audience for the purpose of marketing or promoting any A&M System member or its departments and programs.

These guidelines are intended to set minimum production quality standards. Videos that do not meet these standards should not be posted online or to social media channels such as YouTube or Facebook.

Please consult the Marketing and Communications Office of your University or agency for additional guidelines and any required video approval process.

Use of Online Videos

A large number of internet users watch online video each day, and video can turn a static website into a dynamic, interactive destination. However, the decision to use video should not be made simply because it is popular or cool. Video may not appropriate for all projects and can result in awkward content when used unnecessarily.

Video production – planning, filming, editing – can be surprisingly time-consuming, even when the video is short. Before starting a video project, determine whether video is the most efficient and effective way to send a message or solve a problem. Video projects can be time consuming and expensive to produce when staff time is calculated into the cost. Amateur and unprofessional videos can result in a very negative response to your subject.  Some considerations: Will photography work just as well? Can written information get the message across faster? Do you have the time, the staff, the equipment and the software you need to film, edit and produce a video?

The purpose of the video should to promote the University or institution in a professional manner.  All content in the video should be appropriate for the audience. Here are a few examples of when video can be an effective tool:

  • Communicating with large numbers of people (i.e. several hundred, thousands)
  • Capturing an event and special guest speakers
  • Communicating a message that requires visual, sound and motion, such as demonstrating emotions and interpersonal interactions
  • Establishing expertise by providing in-depth information and updating viewers on field of work
  • Sharing student testimonials
  • Showcasing your faculty, staff and administrators

Video Resources

Please contact the Marketing & Communications Office for your University or agency for assistance with the necessary equipment, software or knowledge for producing a professional video.

Suggested Equipment & Tips

The following tips are provided for amateur videographers. Consulting a professional videographer or your Marketing & Communications Office is highly recommended.

Equipment Tips

  • Camera: If you do not have a professional video camera, please contact your Marketing & Communications Office.
  • Tripod: Essential for steady shots. A tripod with a “fluid head” will be necessary for panning the camera across a scene.
  • Microphone: Your sound quality is likely to improve markedly with the use of an external microphone.
  • Lights: For shooting indoors, adequate video lighting is essential.

Composition Tips

  • Avoid having the interviewee look into the lens – especially for the entire duration of the filming – unless the subject is addressing the viewer.
  • Avoid cutting off the top of someone’s head when framing a wider shot unless this is intentional and well composed.
  • Avoid angling the interviewee too far into profile.
  • Avoid low and high angle shots.
  • Avoid using too much headroom- tight shot but don’t cut off the top.
  • Outdoor interview guidelines
  • Position camera and subject with the sun facing the subject.
  • Avoid using the sun as a harsh backlight.
  • When possible, use a reflector to enhance outdoor lighting.

Indoor Interview Tips

  • Avoid plain white walls. Relocate interview to a more compelling location if possible.
  • Avoid mixed light situations where possible. (Ex: tungsten interview light w/sunlight in background)
  • Always seek a good composition in relation to your background. (Avoid having items appearing from behind the subject’s head)

B-Roll Tips

  • Prioritize gathering footage that relates to the story.
  • Avoid staying in the same camera position or sight line for too long. Move around the space and present the subject from a variety of vantage points.
  • Vary shot types, camera angle, focal lengths and compositions.
  • Bracket for static shots/camera movement, speed of camera moves and exposures.
  • Match camera movement and shooting style appropriately to the story’s tone.

Video Quality Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to set minimum production quality standards. Videos that do not meet these standards should not be posted online or to social media channels such as YouTube or Facebook.

  1. Filming on Campuses or Other System Property

Before using an outside vendor or crew to film on any Texas A&M University System property, first notify the Marketing & Communications Office of the institution or agency to make sure the vendor has received permission and is aware of the applicable A&M System and institutional policies or guidelines. A formal written agreement may be required before any or video is taken on or of the campus, students, faculty or staff. In addition, permission from the institution’s Trademarks & Licensing Office is required to use the university’s copyrighted or protected marks or names in a video for profit.

  1. Media Releases

All actors, interviewees and other individuals that are clearly identifiable should sign a media release permitting you to use their image and voice in video and/or audio recordings.  Please contact the Marketing & Communications Office for your institution for a media release form.

  1. Copyrighted Images and Music

Copyright information for photos, graphics and music must be clearly identified by source. Use of copyrighted images or music for educational use may require additional copyright permissions for promotional use.

  1. Audio & Video Quality
    • All audio should be consistently audible throughout the length of the project.
    • All audio files should be clearly understood through the length of the project.
    • All audio files should be free of background noise, breaks, skips, hissing, etc.
    • If there is more than one speaker, neither speaker should be noticeably louder than the other.
    • Intentional background audio should be well-balanced with the primary audio.
    • Audio and video quality should be consistent throughout the length of the project.
    • Audio and video should be free of fuzziness, distortion, blurriness, interruptions, mismatches, etc.
  1. Branding

Please consult the brand guidelines for your institution or agency for video brand specifications and templates. Videos that use of incorrect or outdated logos should not be posted online or on social media channels.

If the author or creator of the video is a student, it must be clearly stated in the video description. For example, if it is student-produced video, state it as “This video was created and produced by [name of institution] students.”

  1. Accessibility

Online video content must be captioned to enable accessibility for people with disabilities. Captioning is a relatively simple process that will allow for greater functionality of web content and will ensure that projects are in compliance with Sec. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as Accessibility guidelines. Free and paid services are available for creating caption and transcript files for your videos.

  1. Drones

While the use of drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) can be a useful tool for capturing campus shots, The Texas A&M University System, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, provides notice of the legal guidelines relevant to the use of UAS or drones in or around its campuses:

The FAA regulates the safe operation of all UAS aircraft flights. Any operators who operate carelessly or recklessly can be subject to civil penalties, including fines up to $10,000. This is a particular concern in a restricted construction site or sites near an airport.

Detailed information on the use of UAS is available on the FAA website at: http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=76381.

Tips for Posting to Social Media

Video is a highly engaging format, and social media channels such as YouTube provide important platforms for dialogue. Online video should feature simple, easy-to-understand content that encourages voluntary sharing or embedding of information by users on their own Web sites, blogs and social networking profiles.

  • Variety of formats accepted. YouTube enables videos to be uploaded that are high definition, up to 2 GB in size, up to 15 minutes in length and come in a wide variety of formats.
  • Create engaging content. The key to building an audience is to provide content that is useful, entertaining and relevant. Particularly relevant content for the university might feature: student or faculty work, class projects, university events or expert advice. Avoid “talking heads.”
  • Keep it short. While YouTube allows videos up to 15 minutes in length, most viewers don’t have that long of an attention span. Try to keep your videos to one or two minutes unless the content is compelling enough to run longer.
  • Use as many keyword tags as appropriate. Give your videos meaningful and searchable titles and tags. Please consult with your Marketing & Communications Office on the key words and tags for your institution or agency. See “YouTube: Tips and Tricks” for more information about improving your YouTube videos via Titles, Descriptions, Tags and more
  • Credit notable speakers and partners in your video description and include your website URL.
  • Encourage embedding. When someone embeds your video on their site, it counts as an inbound link and boosts that video’s rating in search engine results.
  • Integrate with other efforts. To gain additional traffic to your video, post your video to Facebook and incorporate it into your tweets. Include a shortened website URL in your printed material to connect viewers to online content.
  • Monitor comments. Welcoming comments on a social media site builds credibility and community. YouTube provides the option to set your site preferences to allow review and approval of comments before they appear publicly. This allows a timely response to comments. Turn comments off if they will not be monitored.

 Texas A&M University System Video Guidelines  Revision 4-6-15