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HSU Student Snapshots

Student Snapshots is a collection of video stories from Humboldt State University (HSU) students in their own voice.



What will your story be? You have 1 minute to tell it, so it won't be an exhaustive autobiography. Instead, this will be a snapshot into one aspect of your life as a student at HSU. To find your 1-minute story, brainstorm some ideas. Grab a piece of paper or a friend and start coming up with ideas.

It might help to ask yourself some questions: Is is a day-in-the-life snapshot, a specific event, an overview of your first year, a letter to your friends back home? How do you feel today compared with your first day in class? What do you want to tell yourself 10 years from now? What advice do you have for future students? What advice do you have for your teachers or HSU employees? What's the one thing you love the most about HSU or Humboldt? What's the one thing you hate the most? What would you change?

Once you have a seed of an idea, it's time to start fleshing it out and planning how you will tell your 1-minute story.



What will your video look like? Draw or write out what each scene will look like, the number of scenes you'll have, the location(s), the background, time of day, and anything else that you can think of. 

Think about what you need for these ideas. What type of lighting will you have? Is the environment noisy? Do you need a mic? Should you shoot at a time that it's less busy? What if it's raining on the day you plan to shoot? Scout out your spot ahead of time to see what you'll need to plan for.  

Take extra shots that you can use as transitions and voice-overs. This type of footage is called B-roll. With some B-roll, you can shoot yourself talking and then transition to other shots or images but continuing with your voice and audio. 


Plan out what you're going to say or do. How long will it take you to say/do it? Act out the scene to see what you need to consider- does the camera need to move or will the mic pick up everything?


Follow your plan. You have your scenes planned out and know how to frame your shot. Refer to your plan and take multiple shots and plenty of B roll. 

Be Prepared

Have an extra battery or a plan for charging your camera and/or audio recorder. Be sure to have enough space on the SD card. Lastly, have a backup for audio. Use the camera or lavalier mic, but also record using a digital recorder or smartphone just in case something goes awry. 


Take your time editing. This is a very important aspect of your video. There are many techniques for editing, from fade ins to L and J cuts, there are many ways to visually impart meaning to your audience. This 4-minute video from Pond5 on 13 Creative Film and Video Editing Techniques will give you a quick overview.


Background music and (well-used) sound effects can add a lot to your video. There are many sources for music, but we recommend: 


There are a variety of tools for editing your video. All HSU campus computers include Camtasia, a very basic but nicely featured program that will allow you to do most of what you want for a 1-minute video. There aren't many free video editing programs out there, but iMovie is available on Macs and Story Remix is available on Windows 10 (as of 9/2017). 

Heavyweight Editors

If you want to get in deep into working with video, you can use Adobe Premiere Pro in the Digital Media Lab (Mac and Windows). You can also download a couple of pretty advanced editors for free: Blender and Davinci Resolve. These three options, however, will require a pretty big investment of time to learn.


There are a variety of smartphone apps to choose from. Look for hidden charges (like having to pay to remove watermarks) before spending too much time with an app. Here are a couple that we recommend: 

More Video Resources

Video & Audio

Borrow a Video Camera

The Digital Media Lab has cameras you can borrow for free (up to 72 hours) as well as info and links on how to use them. Visit the DML video page for more info.

Borrow a Microphone

The DML also has mics and digital recorders for you to use. Visit the DML audio page for more info.

Using the Canon T6i DSLR cameras

If you're new to DSLRs, checkout these videos to help you get started. 

Some Basic Video Tips

There are some basic rules that are good to think about when getting ready to shoot your video. This 3-minute video from B&H goes over the 6 Rules of Video Composition

Smartphones can be great for creating your video. The cameras are often exceptional and the built-in mics are usually better than those built into video cameras. Take a look at this 2-minute video from Green Sky Media on Filming an Interview with an iPhone for some useful tips. 

Sound is one of the most important aspects of video. Your viewers will forgive an out of focus shot, but not inaudible dialog. Don't rely on the camera's built-in mic, those are often terrible. Use an external mic and capture backup audio with your smartphone or a digital recorder

Don't forget to add captions. These will allow viewers with hearing issues as well as people without speakers to read along and understand your video. 


Why captions?

Captions are an important part of creating a video. You will often have viewers who either have hearing issues or who don't have access to speakers or headphones. Captions allow you to share your content in a variety of circumstances. Visit the DML captions page to learn more about captions.

Create Captions Automatically

You can use YouTube to generate captions automatically. While not perfect, the YouTube autocaptioning does most of the heavy lifting. The YouTube caption editor allows you to make corrections relatively painlessly. The written instructions below (PDF) and the companion video can help you get started.

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