Tips and explanations from GVI about the video production process:


Post Production



How do I decide whether to shoot with a full-size camera or a mini-camera?

Full-size broadcast cameras have better lenses. They allow the cameraperson to set up the shot quickly and produce sharper images. They can zoom in closer and zoom out wider.   These features aren’t as important when capturing medium shots of your family and friends. But if you’re looking to creatively tell a story – and capture images that really stick in your mind – you need a professional lens. The pictures really do look better. Newer full-size cameras also record on discs so you have a physical copy of what you shoot. This eliminates the transfer problems that can pop up when you record on computer cards.

Mini-cameras are good for working in cramped areas, for producers working as one-person crews, to get extra shots to complement the main camera and when the presence of a larger camera may intimidate those that you’re filming.

What are the pros and cons of shooting with a camera that records on memory cards?


  • Cameras that record on chips are generally cheaper, which may be reflected in the crew rate
  • The video is transferred to a hard drive at the end of the shoot, so you save money by not buying discs.


  • Recording on chips is less foolproof than recording on discs
  • There’s no "original copy" of your footage
  • The transfer process is prone to human error.  If your footage is incorrectly transferred and the chips are erased before you realize it, then you're out of luck.

Post Production

What is time code and how do I use it?

Time code is a unique time stamp recorded with each frame of video. It makes it easy to identify the good takes when you review your footage and find those exact same segments during the edit.

What do "4:3" and "16:9" mean?

These "aspect ratios" tell you the shape of an image by describing their relative width and height. HDTV images are 16:9 and are wider than the 4:3 images that used to fill your TV screen.

What does "letter-boxed" mean?

Letter-boxed video has black bars on the top and bottom of the video. It’s used to display 16:9 video on a 4:3 screen.

What does "pillar-boxed" mean?

Pillar-boxed video has black bars on the left and right of the video. It’s used to display 4:3 video on a 16:9 screen.

How do you combine images in different aspect ratios in one video?

You can squeeze or stretch one set of images to fit the chosen aspect ratio or use pillar-boxing or letter-boxing as needed (preferable).

What should I save from completed projects?

  • the original video files or discs from the camera 
  • a high-resolution master .mov file of the program
  • a lower-resolution .mp4 or .mov file of the program for the Internet
  • graphics files
  • narration files 
  • the Avid project folder with the digitized media from the master sequence, so the whole project can be quickly reloaded to make changes


Where should I host my video?

Vimeo and YouTube are the two most popular video hosting sites.  Why pick one over the other? It depends on:

How viewers will find your video
YouTube is your best bet if you want people to find your video through Google, as YouTube videos show up as thumbnails in Google search results.

If you are providing a link from an email campaign or your own site, your audience already knows where to find your video.  In that case, consider Vimeo with its cleaner, less cluttered interface.  Vimeo’s video player fills more of the screen than YouTube’s.

Whether you want ads on your video

YouTube will run ads on top of and before videos.  A commercial pitch on top of your advocacy video can undermine your message.  You can turn these off, but many organizations forget to do this or miss the option to do so when posting the video.  

Vimeo has no ads.  There’s nothing to compete with your message.

What else you want viewers to see
On YouTube, your video plays next to a long list of other videos that are automatically selected.  The list itself is distracting, but there’s also a risk that the videos will be embarrassing.  Fortunately you can avoid this by creating your own channel.

On Vimeo your video plays alone.  Its channels are a bit different, though.  Vimeo started as a community for sharing videos among groups with their own creative interests, so Vimeo’s channels are curated collections that include videos from many Vimeo users.  

How do I play my video at an event?

The best way is to playback a high-resolution Quick Time file on a laptop.  Be sure to copy the file to the laptop's hard drive first and then play it from there.

How much video fits on a DVD?

Roughly 2 hours on a single layer disc

How much high definition (HDTV) video fits on a Blu-Ray disc?

Roughly 4 ½ hours on a single layer disc