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Durham University

Marketing and Communications

Producing video content

Before you start filming, you will need to have a plan in place, including a list of channels the finished product will be used in. Will you film yourself or will an external partner be involved? We provide guidance on this page.


Before you start filming, think what you are trying to achieve and plan the content carefully. In some cases, a 20-second sequence showing your project site might be adequate for your needs. On the other hand, you may decide to be more ambitious and film in a series of locations, interview people and then edit the film with a voice-over by yourself to provide commentary.

The most successful videos are those which are short, simple and concise

Think carefully about a small number of key messages you want your audience to take away, and avoid trying to tell users ‘everything’.

      • The key messages in your video should focus around what makes your offering distinct. What are the benefits and what are we trying to get someone to do or want them to know as a result of watching your video?
      • Often, the best advocates for what you do are current students or researchers, so consider asking them to contribute.
      • Consider diversity and include footage from a variety of contributors.

Learn more about

The most successful online videos are those which are short, simple and concise. Videos for the Web should be between approximately 90 seconds and 4.30 minutes in length.

  • Think carefully about the three or four key messages you want your audience to take away, and avoid the temptation of trying to tell users ‘everything’.
  • Each contributor should have a clear sense of the areas they need to cover and key points to bring up.
  • How will the video work alongside your other materials – website, brochures, posters, etc.? Ensure that key messages and the presentation of information are consistent across all communications platforms.

Video content is usually used as a teaser in social media, which needs to attract the attention of the user within a few seconds, due to many platforms auto-playing videos while the users scroll through their newsfeed. Subsequently, we recommend preparing a snippet of your video to generate interest on the social channels:

  • Really short (around 20-30 seconds)
  • Highlights in the first few seconds
  • Needs to work without sound (subtitles)
  • Might be cut version (s) of existing longer video - think trailer!

Top tip: In order to ensure your video is signed off and uploaded quickly it would be worth involving the Marketing and Communication Office in earlier versions of the video so necessary tweaks to the branding can be dealt with early. This will make the approval process easier and quicker. Read how


Choose how you want to produce your video:


A video taken on a mobile phone or tablet may be perfectly adequate for your needs, although a video camera and tripod could give you a better result, if available and convenient. Please note that at this point, the Marketing and Communications Office has no video capturing equipment available.


Firstly, always remember to be safe and do not use dangerous locations or props.

To make a simple sequence, try filming and playing it back to check the lighting and sound are OK and that it suits your purpose. Would someone viewing the film understand what it is, or does it need more context, like zooming in and out to show the scale of objects or increasing the volume of sounds?

If you are attempting a more ambitious production, try to be imaginative. You could scan the landscape or buildings around the location before focusing on your project site, to give it context, or perhaps make a sequence about travelling to the site, if that would be interesting and relevant. Look for filming opportunities like a glorious sunset over the site or interesting features such as a historic building or a nearby landmark.

If you are interviewing people, you could film them participating in the project then turning to the camera to answer your questions, or you could conduct interviews in front of interesting back-drops; perhaps something relevant or colourful - countryside, market, shopping centre, boat etc.

Think carefully about where you position the camera and consider everything viewable within the frame. Filming the back of people's heads, or people coming in and out of a doorway in a lecture theatre will be very distracting to the people viewing your film.

Legal Aspects

Always bear in mind legal aspects of making a video. You may infringe copyright if you incorporate someone else’s video sequence or photographs into your film or have recorded someone else’s work such as a performance, art exhibits or newspaper cuttings. You will probably also require copyright permission to add background music to a video. These issues are particularly relevant if you are videoing a lecture which includes slides. You must ensure adequate permission has been acquired for any images, excerpts, video etc used in lecture slides.

The rules of privacy vary but in many countries, including the UK, you should seek permission of those you are filming, especially if it is not in a public place. Also beware of filming military establishments or other sensitive locations, which may include airports and government buildings.

If you are making a film about research, be careful about criticising individuals or companies because you may libel them. There is, however, some protection if you are quoting peer reviewed and published research, although the law is complex in this area. You should also beware of prejudicing any ongoing legal proceedings and, in some countries, criticising the country’s rulers.

To support the use of video streaming or lecture capture, there are checklists to help you to cover common activities in the use of video and should be used to ensure appropriate use.

The above are only very rough outlines of legal pitfalls and if you have any doubts about legal aspects of communication and film making, you should contact the Communications Team.

How to brief an agency

The University has several approved video production agencies. It is important that all paid-for video production goes through one of these agencies. Information on these agencies and contact details can be found in the Video Framework web pages.

Professional video production can be costly, so to ensure best possible value, make sure that you are as prepared as possible when approaching an agency. Adequate planning also ensures that the project runs more quickly and smoothly.

They may also be able to discuss additional features or effects which might help your video. Costs vary, depending on the length of the video you envisage, special effects required and how much filming and editing is required. If you have a very tight budget it is usually useful to let the agency know what this budget is in your project brief so they can tailor something (perhaps using some archive footage, or combining your project with another project at the University). Also think about using the footage captured in a number of different ways (e.g. as well as a 2-minute promotional video, you might also be able to obtain several shorter 20-second cuts to use on social media).

We recommend using this template to brief the agency.

Anything unclear? Get in touch with the Marketing Team right away!

Format and Styling

Please ensure your video is correctly branded. This will be required before your video can be published through university channels.

  • Videos for the website should have a title slide, using the University font (Gotham). The University logo should feature bottom right.
  • Very short clips for social do not need a title slide.
  • For subtitles please use the preferred format recommended by social media providers, available in Final Cut Pro.
  • For pull captions, including references to names and titles, please use Open Sans font.
  • For longer videos (e.g. a recorded lecture), please include a ghosted logo in the top left.
  • Videos should have an end slide with a call to action - this is normally a URL to further information. Again, the University font should be used.
  • We have a sting which should be included at the end of all videos. You can download the sting here.


Due to regulations in our design framework, third-party suppliers should not be named in the video.

File formats

We use YouTube as our video hosting platform. It supports the following file types:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM

Approval and Publication

Video publishing

Videos must be approved by the Marketing and Communications Office before they can be added to the University website and social media channels.

The approval process will be faster and easier if you have involved the Marketing Team early in the process.

Please send the final file to, preferably via our shared OneDrive folder (requires University login).

If approved, the file will be uploaded to the University’s YouTube account, from where it can be pulled via the CMS onto the University’s web pages. Please make sure that you provide a title for the video, along with a short description (2-3 sentences) for inclusion on YouTube.