Let’s imagine you love writing and you want to make a video about it. That sounds like a great idea, but you’re a writer, not a film director, so how do you make a video that actually connects with viewers the way you do with readers?
Well, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help you create your video submission.
You don’t need a set-up like your favorite YouTuber to record your video. The camera on a cell phone, computer, or tablet works great (make sure it’s charged!). Below are some other things to think about, when you’re setting up:
- Location. We encourage you to find a quiet space, that’s free from distracting elements (loud noises, background people, etc.) and where audio and video are clear. And, remember that if it’s visible on camera, everyone can see it. Please remove any personal items and logos from your background.
- Framing. Make sure your camera is set up in a level position and that you are centered in the shot.
- Lighting. Whether it’s an overhead light or natural light from a window, sit facing your light source so we can see you clearly.
- Sound. Whatever device you use has a microphone, but you still need to speak loudly and clearly.
- Camera Orientation. If you’re using a cell phone, please make sure it is set-up horizontally: Hold your phone in the normal typing position, grab the top of the phone, and then rotate it so that you’re holding it sideways.
To learn more about setting up,
check out our Video Best Practice Guide!
We recommend you practice your reading before you record and incorporate some of the tips below.
- Dynamics. Dynamics are similar to volume changes in a song. You can incorporate this same concept into your performance. Try reading your piece aloud (maybe even to someone you trust) and listening for when your voice volume naturally wants to rise and fall.
- Projection. Projecting your voice is like using your internal microphone. When you practice, focus on a spot that’s near your camera. Try to toss every word you say to that spot, without yelling or screaming. You can do this by speaking from your belly.
- Stylization. Does your piece feature multiple characters? Try creating different voices for them. Would your piece be enhanced by simple hand or arm movements? Choreograph them in! Try not to let these elements get in the way of us hearing and seeing you clearly, though.
- Remember your “why.” As you practice, reflect on why you wrote this piece in the first place. If you stay connected to your “why,” you’re sure to create a stellar video.
Recording Your Video
You’ve set-up your recording space, and you’ve practiced your performance. All that’s left is to do is record it!
- Introduction. Before you jump into your performance, please introduce yourself and it by stating this information.
- Your first name, your age, your school, and the title of your piece you’ll be performing.
- Recitation. You can read your work from memory, from the page, or from your device. If you mess up a word, don’t worry about starting over. Pause, take a breath, and then pick up where you left off.
- Don’t want to be on camera? Are you feeling camera-shy, but you’d still like to share a piece of your amazing writing? We welcome videos that include, or mainly feature, still images. These can be drawings you’ve made that help illustrate the piece or photos you’ve taken—just as long as they’re also original pieces of art!
When you’ve finished recording, watch your video back. Hopefully, you are proud of yourself for this huge accomplishment! If you really feel like you want to do it again, we recommend that you only do one more take.
Congratulations, you’re ready to submit!
Review the submission checklist below to make sure you have all of the pieces you need and that your video is in top shape to share with us.
- Does your video include an intro stating your first name, age, school, and title of your piece?
- Is your video recorded horizontally?
- Is your video a minimum of 1 minute long?
- Is your video 4 minutes or shorter? (If it’s longer than 4 minutes, we encourage you to trim your work.)
- Is your video free of background noises and distractions?
- Did you remove any personal items you don’t want in view and/or logos?
- Are you centered in the frame of the video, and is your shot level?
- Is your lighting making you look your best self? Test some angles!
- Did you test your sound? Can we hear you clearly?
- Did you write a short author bio?
- If your piece features a language other than English, did you write up a translation?
- Ready to send us your video?