How to Make a Short Video

PicnicPortraits_A225_MG_2493 copyright by Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover 2014

I am working with a group of technical women professionals of ArabWIC (the Arab Women in Computing Association) who want to make a video about mentoring best practices and experiences. ArabWIC, Gaza Sky Geeks, and the TechWomen mentoring program are target audiences. I am delighted to be collaborating on this project with one of my TechWomen mentees, Mai Temraz of Palestine. Mai (and Seham Aljaafreh of Jordan) and I made a series of videos together last year. We now want to make a somewhat longer video, putting together the thoughts and experiences of several experienced mentors and mentees from different countries in the Middle East and Africa.  This is how to make such a short video.

Here are three short video examples from my YouTube Channel:

You see that these three videos are not Great Art but they do get a simple message across.  Searching the web will quickly give you more detailed analyses and instruction, as well as tips on video creation and production.  However, sometimes you are limited in resources and time but still need to get the job done. For example, Meg Desko and I recorded her video in a Tunis hotel room the night after the Bardo Museum attack, when we realized that she would not be able to present at Tunisia Digital Day as planned.  Her video was presented in her stead.

Our focus was on simple, cheap, fast, and good-enough:

  • Conveying clear content, simply and briefly.
  • Using accessible, relatively-simple and robust tools that we already knew, or could learn quickly.
  • Low cost.
  • Quick cycle time.

Our tools were:

For each of the three video examples, we recorded many attempts before achieving a video that satisfied. I think 15 takes was our highest number! Our requirements for a final recording:


  1. Simple, light background – nothing behind the speaker to distract from her message. Standing in front of a corner gives enough contrast for interest.
  2. A room with no outside noise. Background sounds of air movement, beeping, traffic, and voices will get picked up by the microphone and detract from the speaker.
  3. Gentle light on the speaker’s face so that there are no deep shadows or bright spots.
  4. The camera is held very still with crisp focus on the speaker. A simple tripod or stand may help.
  5. The speaker wears a strong clothing color – to give her skin a glow and make a soft visual transition from the light background.
  6. The speaker speaks and looks directly at the camera – to engage the audience directly. Sometimes this is called “Breaking the Fourth Wall”.
  7. The content has a clear start and a crisp end, giving basic structure.
  8. Record one continuous video to minimize editing.
  9. Repeat often: Done is Better than Perfect.

This checklist will be used by the ArabWIC mentors and mentees to

  • Prepare two-to-four minute video segments in English (using an Apple or Android smartphone or tablet computing device) about mentoring best practices and experiences.
  • Upload the video segments to Drive.

I will stitch all the little videos together into a longer video (using iMovie), for posting to YouTube this month. Wish us luck!

Image Copyright 2014 by Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover


Filed under Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

2 responses to “How to Make a Short Video

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