Producing an Educational Video

Video is a powerful communication medium. With its ability to combine sound and moving pictures video is extremely effective for information delivery. As a result, video’s use is widespread, ranging from television news to entertainment to education. This information will assist you in developing a video production plan. Here is Part One: How to decide?

 Is video right for you?

Before even planning the initial steps for a video program you need to decide if a video is “right” for the project. Because video is such a prevalent part of our society, it has become quite easy to go into a video production project by saying, “Oh, we’ll just put this on video.” If you don’t have a justifiable reason for producing a program then DON’T.

Think about its “shelf-life.” In other words, will the information still be relevant one or two years from now? If it will be out of date, then consider strongly if video is your best option. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce a quality program. Will it be worth an expensive production if the information is outdated before you get started?

You also have to consider the time frame in which you want the program produced. Video production can be a lengthy process. It is not unusual for a program to take several weeks from initially concept until the last edit is made.

Instructional considerations

In addition to the question, “Is video right for me?” you also should consider the following questions as you develop your educational videotape:

  • What is the need for the recorded program? A needs assessment, in essence, determines why the video is required.
  • What are the goals and objectives? Goals and objectives structure your plan of action. A goal is a general statement of what you hope the program will achieve. An objective is a statement of what viewers should be able to do (or do better) as a result of having watched the program.
  • Who is the audience?  It’s imperative to know as much about  the intended audience as possible. What are the audience members’ ages, cultural backgrounds, interests and educational levels?
  • What will be the message? What are you trying to say? What’s the content? The message should be decided even before a medium is chosen.

 Getting started

With the considerations outlined above in mind, let’s say you have decided that a video program is the best medium to communicate with your audience. But where do you begin the production process and how much will the production cost? Here are some suggestions:

  • Decide what level of quality you can afford. Will you use home VHS camcorders and shoot it yourself? Will you plan it and shoot it on your own, and then have it professionally edited? Will you hire a production company to do it all? Consider that the level of production you choose will affect the final product. For instance, using professional video cameras will allow you to make high-caliber videotape duplications that do not look fuzzy or discolored. However, your budget may not allow for anything beyond a home camcorder.


  • Be knowledgeable of different formats. Video can be shot in a multitude of formats. Professional Digital Betacam, Betacam SP and DV CAM or DVCpro are the top video formats at this time. They will not lose significant quality as they are duplicated, and will endure over time, but productions using “top” formats usually cost more. Middle-grade formats, such as Hi-8 and S-VHS & Mini DV  provide good quality and are not as expensive as “top” formats.


  • Music, special sound effects and professional actors add to the cost of your production. A professional-sounding narrator or actor (if there is considerable on-camera narration) is essential to an outstanding project. Some narrators charge by the hour; others charge a flat fee for a project. Of course, cost will vary depending on the length of the program.


Next: The Process of Video Production

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