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Research Guides

AFR 303: Understanding American Slavery through Film

Intro to Video Essays

Your video should explore a subject in the same ways a written essay does. The same amount of research and analysis is required to create a video essay as it is to write a traditional essay, however, it forces you to think about how imagery can be used to advance your argument.

Interested in examples of different video essays?

Intro to Storyboarding

Quick Storyboarding Tips

Recording Tips

If you plan on including a video of yourself speaking, Zoom will probably work just fine for you. To learn some basic tips on how to improve the quality of your computer webcam recordings, watch this video.

If you have a smartphone, chances are it’s more than powerful enough to record quality video. Make sure that your phone is fully-charged and that you have enough free space to record. To learn about best practices when recording your video with a smartphone, watch this video.

Podcasts, voiceovers, bears, oh my! Take stock of your background noise: fans, A/Cs, dogs barking, kids playing. Do what you can to minimize those sounds — turn off the fan, close doors to muffle loud noises in other rooms. But remember: it's not the end of the world if you can't control the noise around you.

When recording only audio, there are two options:

  • Computer: Record in Zoom, and Zoom will provide an “audio_only” file!

  • Smartphone: Smartphones should have built-in recording apps!

    • iPhone: Voice Memos

    • Android: Voice Recorder

The EarPods that come with most Apple products have built-in mics, which capture your voice just as well as some external microphones do!

Editing Tips

Depending on your computer, you may or may not be able to access video or audio editing programs. Watch the video entitled “Intro to Video Essays” to see an example of a video created with no editing software at all — only Zoom.

No matter what editing workflow you use, remember to collect all the media files you’re using for a video in ONE FOLDER.

Free Video Editing Tools


iMovie, DaVinci Resolve, Openshot


Openshot, DaVinci Resolve, Photos app


Adobe Spark

iPhone/iPad iMovie, Adobe Premiere Rush

Adobe Premiere Rush, KineMaster, Inshot

Free Audio Editing Tools







iPhone/iPad Garageband




Finding Media

If you'd like to distribute your media beyond the classroom, you should search for content in the public domain or under Creative Commons. 

The Media Libguide is a great summary of resources.


What is Creative Commons? Check out this guide or this infographic