3Component 3How can we create our own agricultural extension videos?

Component Goals

By the time you have finished this component you will have:

  • Identified the baseline quality standard for your videos.
  • Thought about who will be involved in your video production process.
  • Understood the basics of every step of the video production process.

This component will help you to identify who you will want to train and determine what capacity they will serve in the process. It includes suggested techniques for producing videos that meet a baseline quality standard, with a focus on drafting, recording, and editing your video. Finally, it includes suggested techniques for lowering barriers to entry so that your team is more likely to produce its own videos, including simple ways to provide incentives for video production. It is not meant to be a comprehensive technical guide on how to create videos, although technical tips and references are included.

We have all seen videos that are painful to watch, ones with disjointed storylines, poor audio, distracting transitions, and dizzying camera motions. You may even have the experience of similar videos being created by projects you have worked on. Compared to high-quality videos you have seen created by professionals, this may have led you to believe that it simply is not possible to create low-cost videos. In reality, not only is it possible to make quality videos on a budget, it is not as difficult as it may seem. The key, however, is providing the video-making team with enough guidance so that they are able to create effective videos without professional support. By effective videos, we are not talking about cinema quality, but rather a baseline quality that is engaging and accessible to your intended audience.

Before you begin creating any videos, you should first identify the purpose of your videos and your baseline quality standards. A good starting point for establishing your baseline standard is to define what a video should look like to be useful for your audience. This is best done keeping in mind specific criteria, such as:

Component 3 introductory image

With your team, determine which criteria are most appropriate to your situation. You may decide to use the criteria listed above or add/remove criteria. Write down each of your criteria classifications into the Video Baseline Quality Worksheet. A soft copy of this template is included at the end of this component in case you need to make any changes. Alternatively, you can recreate the worksheet directly onto flipchart paper. Then discuss with your team what your expectations are for achieving a baseline or bare minimum in each area. A sample, completed worksheet is included below as a reference.

Sample Video Baseline Quality Worksheet

Criteria Baseline standard
Video Quality
(How was the video’s stability? Framing? Lighting? Editing?)
At least 90% of all shots are clear, well lit, and stable. No overly distracting scene transitions or camera angles.
Audio Quality
(How clear was the sound? Was there background noise?)
All dialogue can be heard. Volume level throughout video is roughly consistent. Background noise and wind is present, but does not distract from the dialogue.
Story Structure
(Does the video flow? Does it have a beginning, middle, and end?)
Video has a beginning, middle, and end. Scenes generally flow from one to another.
Message Clarity
(Is it clear what message the video is trying to convey?)
It is clear what the objectives of the video. Message is not abstract or confusing.
(Did the video capture your attention? Did it engage your thinking?)
The overall look of the video and content is engaging. If played to an audience of ten farmers, a minimum of nine of them are engaged and watch the video from start to finish.
(How well did you learn how to perform the activities covered in the video?)
Video provides enough information to enable a viewer to reasonably understand how to carry out the process highlighted on their own or are informed enough to be able to seek out specific resources to enable themselves to eventually carry out the process.

It is possible that once you begin actually creating videos and sharing them with farmers that some of your baseline standards will change. That is fine. The important thing is that everyone on your team is clear about what is expected of them so that they can create effective videos for your activity.

This process will also enable you to determine if it is possible to create videos with your staff and local partners or if you require professional support. For example, if your baseline standard is beyond what seems reasonable for your staff or partners, you may want to consider professional support. This may be especially necessary if you are planning to conduct a mass media or public awareness campaign, which may require a higher level of quality to meet broadcast television standards.

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Who should create these videos?

More often than not, people fail to create effective videos because of poor training and unclear video standards. Do not let someone's lack of prior experience be your sole determining factor in whether they are able to create videos. Farmers, rural teachers, and field staff -- often without prior experience -- are successfully creating videos in countries around the world.

A great starting point is to determine whether logistics or resource restrictions predetermine some of your decisions and which individuals should be involved. For instance, there may be a limited number of field staff or farmers available to take part in your activities. If you have decided to work in multiple villages in a district, you will want to determine first what structure is most appropriate for your own budget and the technical realities on the ground. If none of the villages you will be working in have computers, then you will probably need to consider doing all editing in the district town or the next nearest place with access to a computer. Also, if you have purchased only one camera per district, you will likely need to base your videographer in a central location.

At the very minimum, you will need at least one person involved per local area that you are working in. This would assume that this individual is responsible for all storyboarding, recording, and editing. Ideally, though, you should aim to have at least two to three trained individuals on all elements of the video creation process in each local area. These do not need to be people who are focused full-time on video creation, but experience has shown that they should have at least three days of time available per video created; this is based on one day for storyboarding, one day for recording, and one day for editing. As a general rule of thumb, editing one minute of final video takes about one hour of labor. Depending on the initial capacity of your team, it may take much longer than this. Initially, therefore, you may want to assume five or six days per video to be safe.

Having more than one person who is trained in the process is beneficial for three main reasons. First, staff will be able to test ideas on each other, which will likely result in a better end product. Second, it enables you to split their time worked on each video so that they can continue with their other job responsibilities. Finally, if one of your trained staff leaves, you do not need to worry about all of your technical capacity disappearing.

After making these logistical considerations, another important determining factor should be their interest and track record. Someone who is excited and interested in creating videos may learn faster than someone who is participating out of obligation. Additionally, if someone has a track record for learning and challenging themselves, they may be more likely to take on this new challenge.

Given that predicting the best candidate is not an exact science, you may also want to consider training more people than you actually need. For example, if you have decided that you need five people to work on your video production team, you might want to invite 10 people to any training you provide. This will give you an opportunity to observe everyone during the training before making your final selection. You may find that some people more naturally take to editing, others more naturally to storyboarding, and so on. Also, if any of the individuals you select to be on your video production team does not work out, you will have trained backups ready to step in.

iDE Ethiopia staff practice recording at Digital Green training in Ziway, Ethiopia.

You should also choose members of your video production team to check the accuracy of the content in each video. Although members of your production team will likely have a background in agriculture, they will not be experts on every topic you plan to feature. Identify who can help you with this process. If you do not already have topical area experts on staff, you will want to identify external experts or resources that you can use for this process. An easy way to organize this is to draw up a list of experts including their name, topic area expertise, and contact information. A basic template for this list entitled, Topical Area Expert Contact List has been included at the end of this component for your use.

Determine a process with each of these experts in advance to define how you will contact them and what is expected of them in terms of information and response time. If you are working with external experts, you should also determine if you will need to provide them with any compensation for their work. The list of experts may include local, regional, and national-level experts. These expert lists should then be distributed to each of your video production teams so that each of them knows who they can contact to check accuracy on a given topic. The contact list template also has a section for 'additional information.' This is where you can enter notes that may be of use to your team, such as 'needs at least two weeks to respond to requests,' 'requires payment,' or 'not available more than once per month.'

Do not forget to use your beneficiaries (i.e., farmers) as a resource as well. Consider engaging farmers in all stages of the video production process. Not only can this be empowering for the farmers, but it can also be a valuable way of increasing local engagement with your activity. This may also increase the chances of sustaining your activity beyond your project, since farmers who participated in the process will likely feel a sense of ownership over the content and its validity.

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Who should be featured in our videos?

In addition to your video production team, you will need to decide who will be featured in your videos. This will ultimately depend on which style of story you decide to use in a given video (see story style list under the Storyboarding section below for more details). Your videos may include your own staff or topical area experts who conduct interviews or provide direct instruction.

Most of your videos will likely include farmers. Deciding upon which farmers will appear in your videos depends on your video's topic, learning objectives and style, among other factors. If your topic is related to a success story or best practice, you will likely want to ask a farmer who has had success with that practice to star in your video. Using actual farmers is much more authentic than casting actors, and will likely resonate more with your intended audience. You will also want to make sure that you use a diverse cast of farmers across your different videos, looking at gender, scale of farm, local language, etc. Over time, this will help to ensure that your pool of videos appeals to diverse audiences. Be sure to check the local reputations of any farmers you plan on including in your videos. If a farmer has a poor reputation among your target audience, other farmers will be less likely to listen to the message even if it could be useful to them.

When approaching a farmer to ask for their participation, explain exactly how the video will be used and why you are asking them to participate. If you are going to be disseminating the videos beyond the immediate community that created them, you will want to make sure that the farmer is aware of this. If customary or advisable under local law, you should also consider creating a consent form that you can ask all individuals who appear in your videos to sign—or their parents, in the case of minors. Consent form text can be fairly basic, such as:

"I agree to allow [insert name] and/or its partners to publish, copyright, and use videos and/or pictures of me for informational purposes. I understand that these videos or pictures may be published without restriction. I understand that I will not receive payment or other compensation for use of this material."

Another approach that has been used is to record consent via video instead of using written release forms. You can do this by recording a member of your staff explaining why you are creating the video and how it will be used to the farmers who will appear on camera. If you choose to use video consent, make sure that you save all of your video consent clips both on your computer and backed up on an external device or in the cloud.

It is also important to make sure that whoever you have selected to appear in a video is comfortable with being on camera. You may find a very knowledgeable expert or successful farmer who just is not the right fit for the camera for whatever reason. This could be due to a number of factors, such as an overly reserved personality, a sleep-inducing monotone voice, or a speech pattern/accent that is difficult for most viewers to follow. Depending on how much time you have to help your subjects prepare, you may have to pass over recording individuals who are not camera-ready. If you do use someone who is not camera-ready for one of your videos, it may end up negatively affecting the overall impact of your video—even if the content is exceptional.

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What is required to create effective videos?

As mentioned earlier, this toolkit will not provide thorough details on how to train your team to create videos. Much of this information has already been created in more detail elsewhere, so it would be redundant to recreate it here. It will, however, include all of the major considerations you will need to make to structure your video.

Quality technical training manuals and curricula on video creation that you may want to consult for more details or specific activities include:

InsightShare's Participatory Video Handbook
InsightShare's Participatory Video Handbook
Vimeo Video School
Vimeo Video School
Youth Channel's Documentary Curriculum
Youth Channel's Documentary Curriculum
Digital Green's Standard Operating Procedures
Digital Green's Standard Operating Procedures
Witness's Video Advocacy Resources
Witness's Video Advocacy Resources

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The length of each video depends on your learning objectives and target audience. Consider this, though: the "10-minute rule" purported by some researchers, educators, and filmmakers claims that most people tend to lose their attention after 10 minutes. Based on this rule, you should aim to keep your videos to no more than 10 minutes each.

This does not mean that all of your videos should be 10 minutes. The length of each video should be dependent on the overall learning objective. Some more discrete objectives may only need a few minutes to convey, while more complex processes may require 10 minutes or slightly more.

An added benefit to creating short, modular videos is that they are easier to update. If you need to change a 10-minute video, it will take you a lot less time than updating a segment of an hour-long video.

The first part of the process to producing your own videos is creating a storyboard. A storyboard is important because it enables you to sketch out what your video will look like and what content it will include. This is different from a script, which is an extremely detailed, line-by-line outline of a video. Storyboards provide the overall gist of each shot and serve as a general guide to your video production team and subjects. A clearly written storyboard will save time during script writing, recording, and editing and reduce the likelihood that you will forget to record important elements. If you are planning to eventually subtitle or dub your videos into other languages, it will be necessary to have a script as well. This can be done either in advance of recording your video or after the fact by transcribing the dialogue in your video for translation.

When creating your storyboard or script, it is important to make sure that the content that you plan to include in your videos is accurate. If your videos are inaccurate, not only will they fail to achieve their objectives, but they may also lead to a loss of credibility, reducing the likelihood that farmers will want to watch other videos you have created. The best way to do this is to make sure that you have researched your content and consulted with topical area experts to make sure that you are accurately conveying your message. You may find that using a simple checklist such as this helps to ensure that all videos are properly fact-checked:

  • Research topic of video you plan to record
  • Consult with topical area expert to confirm the accuracy of the process you plan to highlight
  • Develop storyboard based on this input
  • Share storyboard with topical expert, field officers, and/or local partners for their feedback
  • Edit storyboard as necessary based on feedback

Storyboard templates vary, but they generally include video and audio directions, scene diagrams, and other details such as running time, location, and materials required. A Video Storyboard Template is included in the worksheet section of this component. This template includes three primary segments in addition to the header information about the video: video, diagram, and audio. The video column provides instructions to the cameraperson about the type of shot they will use in each scene and what the focus should be. The diagram column is a drawing of what the scene will look like from the perspective of the camera. Finally, the audio column includes notes on the dialogue and other audio during each scene. If you are going to be interviewing a farmer for your video, the audio should include the questions that you plan to ask to facilitate the discussion.

Feel free to create your own template based on what works best for your needs. Some people prefer to exclude the diagram segment of the storyboard. Others prefer to include information on who authored each storyboard or the topic type of the video to facilitate categorization. No matter what else you change, always be sure to include your learning objective(s) on your storyboard. This is important for your video production team to understand, but it is also helpful for tracking how well your audience understands your message. If, for instance, your learning objective is for farmers to understand improved seed storage techniques, but most farmers who watch the video come away with a completely different message, then it is likely that you may need to re-work your storyboard and re-shoot the video.

It is important that your video has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Depending on the story style you use, the specific content in each section may vary. Generally, though, your video should always introduce the challenge being faced, the proposed solution, the process for implementing the solution, the result, and any other pertinent information. Also, always be sure that your message is clear and that it is relevant and meaningful to your audience's lives.

A sample storyboard excerpt may look something like this:

Video Storyboard Template

TitleTitle: Triple Bagging Cowpea Seeds

Running TimeRunning Time: 9 minutes

Learning ObjectiveLearning Objective: Viewers will be able to improve how they store cowpea seeds

Materials RequiredMaterials Required: Cowpea seeds, plastic bags

Location of shootingLocation of Shooting: John Okueye's farm

Preparation requiredPreparation Required: Gather materials, coordinate time with Mr. Okueye

Video Storyboard Template

There are six main story styles that you will likely consider using to convey your message. Although other styles do exist, these are the most commonly used for sharing agricultural information:

  • Narrated – A narrated story includes a voice-over narrator who describes what is being seen on the screen. This style is most frequently used if you plan to use the video you are shooting to create multiple language versions. It eliminates the need to dub over the audio of subjects in the video.
  • Facilitated – Facilitated stories are used primarily in videos that include interviews with farmers. The facilitator may be either on screen or off screen, and their role is to facilitate the discussion with the subjects being filmed. This style is most frequently used for farmer success stories or best practices.
  • Narrative – Narrative stories (not to be confused with narrated stories) embed the learning objectives into a narrative, rather than being explicitly instructional. Some research has shown that we are hardwired to enjoy this type of story, and as a result narrative stories may be more effective at engaging audience attention.
  • Direct instruction – Direct instruction is generally one individual speaking directly to the camera about how a certain process is performed. It is most commonly associated with cooking shows, but may be effective for communicating certain agricultural learning objectives.
  • Fly on the wall – This style is not so much a story as it is a voyeuristic view of something that has happened. A video using this style may be a recording of a workshop that you edit and share.
  • Combination – Some videos use a combination of styles. For instance, part of a video may be narrated, while part of it is facilitated.

Deciding on which style or styles is best for your videos will depend on your audience and your learning objectives. Some learning objectives may be too complicated to communicate using certain styles, while other learning objectives may lend themselves to one style over another. The most important thing to consider is what style your audience enjoys most and what is likely to best convey your message. A great way to test this is to create a few short two-to-three-minute videos on the same topic using different styles. You can then screen each video to different sample groups of farmers who are representative of your target audience. Afterward, ask participants from each group to tell you what the learning objective of the video was and whether they enjoyed the style it was presented in. You can use this information to guide what style or styles you will use to create your full-length videos.

When creating your storyboards, it is important to remember to not make your stories overly formulaic. If all of your videos follow the exact same style and have the exact same story structure, you will likely lose the interest of your audience over time. Most people will find it difficult to stay engaged in videos that are completely interchangeable. Some variety will keep your videos engaging and will be more likely to achieve their learning objectives.



The process of storyboarding is likely to be new to your staff and some of them may consider it to be tedious and boring. Try to make sure that your storyboard template includes only information you will actually use. Including superfluous information will likely make the process even less appealing to your staff. Consider introducing small incentives, such as a monthly "Most-popular storyboard" or "Best peer-reviewed storyboard" award to recognize the hard work of your storyboard authors. This could be as a simple as providing winners with a certificate or small prize.

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Once you have created your storyboard, you can begin recording your video. To prepare for this moment, you'll need to make sure that your video production team has had ample time experimenting with and practicing how to use the equipment you will be using and peripheral devices, such as tripods and microphones. For instance, if you are using a pocket camcorder, your team will likely not need more than 15 minutes to learn how to use all of its onboard features. For standard or "pro-sumer" camcorders, however, you may need a half day or more simply to learn the basics.

At a minimum, you will want to make sure that your team understands the most common types of shots, framing, focus, lighting, stability, sound, and timing. In addition to reading about each of these here, you should encourage your team to practice them on their own. It is also helpful to encourage them to watch television or movies to see if they can identify different techniques that are used.

Different Types of Shots

There are dozens of different shot types that videographers use when composing their shots. For the purposes of simplicity, we will only discuss the most common shot types that you will likely use when creating your videos.

Wide shot – An extreme wide shot shows the subject's surroundings and is generally used to establish your scene. Closer wide shots (or long shots) generally show the full body of the subject.
Mid shot – Captures the subject from the waist up and roughly approximates how you would normally view a person when talking to them. The mid shot is considered a comfortable, emotionally neutral shot.
Close Up
Close up – Close ups generally refer to shot that include the subject's face. Unlike wide and mid shots, close ups tend to convey the emotional state of the subject.
Over-the-shoulder – These are generally used when recording a conversation between two people to establish relative location to each other.
Point-of-view (POV) – This is a shot that shows the subject's perspective, so that the viewer is seeing what the subject would be seeing.
Cutaway – Cutaways are generally shots of anything other than the subject that can be used during editing as "B roll," which is supplemental footage that adds extra relevant information, mood, or meaning to a sequence. In addition, this type of footage can be used to cover up a technical glitch within a scene by cutting away in place of the flawed video while keeping the original scene audio.


Effective shot framing can engage your viewer and help to illustrate mood or emotion. Like anything, the ability to effectively frame shots will improve with practice. Some of the basics that you will want your team to start mastering are:

  • Rule of thirds – This states that you should try to imagine your shot divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Rather than placing your focal point in the center of the shot, you should place it one-third or two-thirds of the way down or across the frame. For example:
  • Headroom/Looking Room – Related to the rule of thirds, this refers to the amount of space you have above someone's head or in front of them. Generally speaking, you should have a modest amount of space above your subject's head or in front of them in the direction they are looking. A lack of headroom or looking room can appear claustrophobic and be uncomfortable to watch.
    Headroom/Looking Room
  • Screen Continuity – When recording two subjects in conversation, never cross beyond the back of any of the subjects. This is also known as the 180 degree rule. It says that you should imagine a 180-degree semi-circle running between your two subjects and never position your camera outside that semi-circle while recording. If you move to the other side of this semi-circle, it will result in your subjects appearing to switch positions on camera. The subject who was on the left will now appear on the right, and vice versa. If you are shooting from several places along the semi-circle, you should also consider marking the ground (using rocks or twigs, for instance) at each location so you can always return to the same spot. You can also mark your subjects' places if they will be moving out of them between shots. This will ensure that your shot perspective is always consistent.
    Screen Continuity
  • Shot Angles – There are three primary types of shot angles that you will use:

    The most common is the straight angle, which is an eye-level shot.

    Low-angle shots are shot below eye-level looking up. They can be used to make the subject appear larger, more powerful, imposing, or in charge.

    shots are taken from above eye-level looking down. They can be used to make the subject appear diminutive, vulnerable, or powerless.
  • Camera Moves – This relates to the motion that you make with the camera. There are three basic types of camera moves:

    Pan – This is when you move the camera along a horizontal axis.

    Tilt – This is when you move the camera along a vertical axis.

    Zoom – This is when you move closer to or farther away from the subject. Generally speaking, you should try to avoid using the digital zoom that comes with most pocket camcorders, since it can lead to an overly pixilated video. In lieu of this, consider moving the camcorder closer or further away from the subject between shots.


If you are using a pocket camcorder, you likely will not have any manual focus control. Since the camcorder will automatically focus, it is important to make sure that it is focusing on your intended subject. If not, you may need to adjust your shot type or angle until the camera comes into focus on your subject. If you are using a camcorder that has manual focus, read the manual to understand how it works. Then experiment focusing on a variety of subjects at various distances from your lens.



As much of your recording will likely take place outside and you will most likely not have lighting equipment, you'll want to make sure that you have sufficient natural lighting.


If it is sunny out, the best times to shoot outdoors are in the morning or late afternoon. When the sun is directly overhead, it can cast unflattering shadows on the faces of your subjects.


If it is overcast, you will likely be able to record throughout the day provided that there is enough ambient light to illuminate your subjects.

Try to avoid shooting directly in the direction of the sun. This will result in your subject either being too dark or the background being too bright, neither of which make for compelling video. You may also experience this when recording a subject with a window in the background. If you notice that your subject is not properly exposed, try either moving the position of the camcorder or that of the subject until it returns to normal.


An unsteady video not only screams out amateur, but it can also be extremely distracting. The best way to address this is to use a tripod. If you are unable to find a tripod, you can reduce some of the effects of a shaky hand by firmly holding the camcorder and then bracing your arms against your sides. This is not as effective as using a tripod, but the difference between using this technique and simply holding the camcorder with your arms outstretched is instantly noticeable.



Always make sure the microphone is working BEFORE you start shooting. For built-in microphones, be aware of where it is and make sure that you do not having anything obstructing it (such as your fingers).

The microphone on pocket camcorders can be very sensitive. Even when using an external microphone, be careful when shooting outdoors or in noisy environments—the camcorder will likely pick up a lot of background noise in those cases. To help ensure the best possible audio when using the built-in microphone, remember the following:

  • Use your stage voice (i.e. speak loudly)
  • Avoid areas with loud background noise
  • Do not record into the wind (and if possible, shield the wind)
  • Try to minimize your use of the camcorder's zoom. Instead zoom with your legs by moving closer to your subject

In addition, when using an external microphone always make sure to check that it is functioning at the start of each session. If your camcorder enables you to monitor audio in real-time, then you can use a headset to confirm that audio levels are acceptable during recording. Otherwise, make sure to periodically review the clips you have recorded while you are on location to ensure that the audio quality is acceptable. Nothing is worse than having recorded hours of video, only to find out once you are back in your office that the microphone was not working or the background noise was too distracting. More information on specific external microphone options can be found in Component 6.


Use 3-second buffers before and after each clip you record.


Make sure that you include buffer space at the beginning and end of each clip you record. The easiest way to do this is to begin recording three seconds before you give your subjects the sign to begin the shot, and then to stop recording three seconds after they have finished the shot. During these buffer periods, instruct your subjects to be quiet so that the only audio that is recorded is ambient sound. This will greatly facilitate editing of each clip, and will ensure cleaner audio and visual edits.

Number of shots

You may be wondering how many shots (or video clips) you should be recording for your video. The answer is that there is no one answer. It really depends on the type of video you are recording and the message you are trying to convey in each scene. Consider trying the following exercise though: watch two minutes of television and count the number of shots you see. Remember that shots are video segments that run for an uninterrupted period of time. Many shots are combined to create a scene. For example, a scene that shows a conversation between two people may be comprised of several different shots that have been seamlessly combined during editing.

Before you start the exercise, write down how many shots you think you will count so you can compare it to your final count. What you will likely find is that your initial guess was significantly lower than your final count. This is because good filmmakers and editors use multiple shots to capture our attention and engage us so that we do not even notice changes in shots. Keep this in mind when you are recording footage for your own video. You need to resist the temptation to record long, uninterrupted shots similar to the type you might take when recording home videos of friends and family. That type of fly-on-the-wall recording, while perhaps interesting to the person recording it, often end up quickly boring other viewers.



One of the easiest ways to lower the barriers for recording video is by allowing your trainees to explore using the camcorders on their own. If you are overly controlling of the camcorders, they may doubt their own capacity for handling them. Encourage experimentation, sharing, and collegial feedback. The more they are able to use the camcorders to record video, the more comfortable they will become—and the better-quality video they will be able to produce.

You might create a video scavenger hunt where teams compete to record quality examples of all of the different shot types. Also consider creating your own video on how to use the camcorder that they can refer to as an illustrative guide.

Finally, as with storyboarding, consider exploring ways to promote positive competition and recognition for high-quality work.

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Editing videos can be an extremely complicated and time-consuming process if you want to produce a highly polished, professional-looking product. It does not have to be this way though. Using freely available editing software, you can produce decent-quality videos without weeks or months of training. More specific information on software that you might consider using can be found in Component 6. Rather than discussing any particular editing software here, this section will focus on specific steps that you can take to make sure that you are able to edit a decent final product.

Organizing Your Clips

Before you begin editing, the first thing you will want to do is develop a naming and filing system for organizing all of your clips. Since you will likely have recorded dozens of video clips for any final video, you want to make sure that they are well organized and that you can easily find what you are looking for. For example, you may want to name all clips related to your introduction as Introduction1, Introduction2, and so forth.

As part of the organization process, you should also watch all of the clips you have recorded and select the footage that you are likely to use. This part of the process might not be the most fun, but it is a necessary task if you want to ensure that you end up selecting the highest-quality and most relevant clips you have recorded for your final video. You can use the Video Editing Preparation Worksheet to keep track of which clips you think you will use and how. Below is a short example of what that might look like:

Clip Name Use/Discard Time Code (start/end)
Introduction 1 Consider using as B-roll 00:01:01.02 – 00:02:02.13
Introduction 2 Discard  
Introduction 3 Consider using as
intro scene
00:00:00.29 – 00:02:35.18

As you watch each clip, you should write out the name you have given it. In the Use/Discard column, you should write how the clip is worth using or if it should be discarded. Any clips that you have coded as 'discard' should be moved into a new folder on your computer called 'Discarded' or some similar naming convention. You can delete this folder once you have finished editing your final product, but in the meantime keep it in case you change your mind about any of your discards.

For the videos that you have marked as 'use' or 'considering using' you should also make note of the beginning and ending time code for the segment of video within the clip you want to use. The time code will normally be displayed in your editing program as HH:MM:SS.FF, meaning hours:minutes:seconds.frames. For example, a time code that reads 00:01:01.02 means one minute, one second, and two frames. If you are viewing your video clips in your video player or basic editing software, it is possible that it will only display minutes and seconds. If so, you can just record the minute and second time code for each clip. This will save you time when you go back to edit each clip since you can advance directly to the point in time that you want to start from and end at. Some editing programs, such as Windows Movie Maker, allow you to trim clips directly in your video timeline without altering the original file. If you are using a program that requires you to save any changes you make when trimming a clip, always make sure to 'Save As' so that you do not lose your original, full clip. This way you will still have the original in case you want to go back later and include additional footage from that clip.

Rough Editing



You may be tempted to use popular music in your videos. Music can often be distracting, especially if its audio levels are too high or if it is playing as a backdrop to dialogue.

Beyond the technical considerations, even if your video is not being sold for a profit, you must obtain the legal right to use copyrighted music in your videos. If you plan to use any music, first make sure that you have the right to use it or that the music is freely available for use without a special copyright.

For more information on legal sources of music for videos visit Creative Commons.

Once you have finished this process of identifying and trimming clips to use, you can begin to lay out your selected clips onto a timeline. This step of the editing process is known as the rough edit. There are two ways to carry out this step. This first is to do a paper edit, which means that you write out the order of each clip, any transitions, and any additional audio. The other option is to use the timeline in your editing program to manipulate and edit your clips directly.

The benefits of doing a paper edit first are that it can be done on flipchart paper in a group so that your entire team is able to provide input. In addition, depending on how powerful your computer is, you may find that doing a lot of back and forth directly in the editing program's timeline slows down your computer to the point of frustration. Certainly, however, if your computer is powerful enough, then laying out your timeline directly in the editing program can save you time compared to doing a paper edit first.

If you decide to do a paper edit, the easiest way is to lay out flipchart paper or use a whiteboard to write out your timeline. A basic paper edit layout might look something like this:

Rough editing

Once you have laid out your timeline, you would proceed to write down the names of each video clip you want you to use in order along the timeline, doing the same for any additional audio or transitions you want to add. You will find that this process is very similar to what editing looks like in your editing software.

Tight Edit



Video transitions can be effective for facilitating flow between clips, but they should be used only in moderation. Too many transitions or a wide variety of transitions can be distracting. Only use transitions when they enhance your video. Remember, you do not need to use transitions between every clip.

After you have finished your rough edit and all of the pieces of your final video are in place, you should tighten up your video by making additional adjustments to your video, audio, and transitions. This is also the time to add any titles you plan to use. The tight edit should be done directly in your video editing program.

The first thing that you should do when you begin editing your video on your computer is ensure that you save your project in your editing program. By creating a project you will be able to open your video-in-progress where you left it so that you can take breaks during editing and shut down the editing program. This will also allow you to go back and make changes to your video months later if you need to update something. Like all computer programs, make sure that you save your project often while you are working on it. Video editing programs can demand a lot of resources from your computer, and it is not uncommon for them to freeze or crash on occasion. Losing what you have worked on can be extremely frustrating and demoralizing, so make sure it does not happen to you or your team by saving often.

For anyone who is using a PC, the easiest starting point for your editing is likely to be Movie Maker, which is available for free. We have developed seven short videos on how to use Movie Maker 2012, all of which are freely available through this Vimeo channel. They include techniques for creating cutaways, adding transitions, creating voice overs, and several other important steps in the editing process.


If you plan to add subtitles to your video, they should be incorporated at the point of mastering. There are two types of subtitles:

Softsubs – are subtitle files that you can upload along with your video onto websites like YouTube.

Hardsubs – are subtitles that have been directly "burned" onto your final video file.

More information on how to create your own softsubs can be found in Component 6.


The final step of the video editing process is to master your video. This step is taken after you have finished your tight edit and are ready to finalize your video. Before you master your video, make sure to watch it in your video editing program from start to finish a couple of times to confirm that you are satisfied with it. If you notice anything that you are not satisfied with, go back and make the appropriate adjustments.

Once you are ready to master your video, you should select the appropriate option in your editing program. In Windows Movie Maker, for example, this option is called 'Save Movie File,' although in other editing programs it has other names, such as 'Export Video' or 'Render Video.' The program you are using will also ask you how you want to save your video, including the file type, aspect ratio, display size, and frames per second. You will want to select settings appropriate for your primary method of dissemination. If you are not sure what the appropriate settings are, check the user manual of your primary dissemination device or see if you can do some research online. Otherwise, you can just use the default settings.

If the program you are using does not allow you to master your video in a compatible format, there is no need to worry. You can always use a file conversion program (described in Component 6) to convert your video to the appropriate format after the fact. Although file conversion may lead to quality degradation, the difference should be negligible to the untrained eye on almost any dissemination device you will be using. When you do a test screening of your video using your dissemination device, you should be able to identify whether it plays correctly. Tell-tale signs of incompatibility are video or audio that jumps, is out of sync, or simply fails to play at all. If this happens, you can always re-master or re-convert your video using another configuration.



Video editing can be more tedious than people might initially expect. Encourage your team to stick with it and continue to practice. It will become easier and faster with time. You can also encourage them to watch training videos such as those at Vimeo Video School, or you can create your own training videos using free programs like Jing. Jing allows you to record narrated video of your screen so you can create your own videos on specific steps of the process in local dialects to share with your staff. Finally, as was suggested with storyboarding and video recording, creating some sort of positive incentive to further encourage your team might be helpful.


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Critical Success Factors

  • Establish baseline quality standards.
  • Select the right people to do the work.
  • Produce quality videos that meet farmer needs.


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