GUIDE – Making a Live Video Recording for a Blog Entry or Interview

A video blog entry is pretty much what the name implies: an informal video recording featuring you sharing whatever you would’ve otherwise written about in a blog post.

The info below also applies to any recording you make of yourself speaking directly to the camera or across the camera (as though you were being interviewed by someone sitting beside the camera).


You can make one several different ways, based on the video equipment you already have available. Here are the most common options, along with some steps to try to make sure the option will work for you:

Laptop Camera

  • Use the built-in camera and mic in your laptop or attach a web cam
  • Record into a desktop video app, like QuickTime X, iMovie or Windows MovieMaker
  • Do a test recording to make sure your camera is working
  • Try exporting the video in a web-ready format

Mac users, see: Recording into iMovie

Windows users, see: Recording into Windows MovieMaker

Web-Based WebCam

Here’s how to use the free YouTube webcam, but you can find others online.

  • Sign up for an account on YouTube (using your Google account ID)
  • Read YouTube’s webcam instructions
  • Do a test recording with the webcam to make sure you have the necessary browser plugins and so on
  • Try publishing your video, but Change the privacy settings to unlisted (the bottom of that help page also shows you how to download your webcam recording as an mp4 file)

Smart Phone

  • Use the built-in video recording app or download one
  • Do a test recording to see what the quality is like
  • If you already have a way to post your smart phone videos on the web, try that
  • Otherwise, import the video to your computer and see what video format it’s in
    • If it’s in one of the preferred formats indicated below, you’re good to go
    • If not, try importing it into your video editing app and exporting it out in a preferred format
    • If that doesn’t work, try using a free media converter, as described below

For help, browse Google with the specs from your phone.

Digital Camera

  • Use a digital camera or camcorder with an internal or external mic
  • Set the camera on a steady surface and do a test recording
  • Import the footage onto your computer, the same way you do with photos (on a Mac, that’s often through the Import option in iMovie)
  • Test out the recording to make sure you like how it looks and you can hear your voice (sometimes digital cameras have weak mics)

For more help, browse Google with the specs from your camera.


Long before your video is due, start experimenting with your options for video recording. Your goals are to figure out:

  • what video recording tools and apps you have available
  • how to use those tools and apps to record live video
  • how to frame yourself in an appealing way (see Framing Interview Shots)
  • how to talk and use body language on camera in a way that seems natural and comfortable
  • how factors like time of day, lighting, background setting, camera angles, background noise, and other factors impact the recording
  • how to export the video in a shareable format (such as m4v or mp4)

One way to test whether you’ve shared your video in a web-ready format is to upload it to Google Drive. Give it about ten minutes to “process,” and then click the video to see if you can play it. If your only option is to download it, not to play it in the browser, the video was not in web-ready format.

Another way to test is to check the file size. For a short video, it should be under 100mb. If the file size is much larger, that’s probably the original, un-compressed video project file, not an exported “shareable” version.


Direct Approach

Look right at the camera, but stay far enough back that we can see your shoulders, at least. You might also experiment with changing your position frequently (or even moving the camera to change what shows in the background), to make the video more interesting to watch.

Changing your position works best if you plan to edit the movie in iMovie or MovieMaker, where you can create “jump cuts” (in which case you would want to stop talking as you change position, as you’ll cut that part out.)

Interview-type Approach

Position yourself so that your head is in the upper left or right third of the screen (see Video Framing), and look across the camera rather than off of it. See: Understanding Video Framing and Composition This is how almost all of the interviews you’ve ever seen on TV are framed.

Also see this related post: TIPS – Composing and Framing Video Interviews


The variety of formats videos can be saved and exported to is a bit overwhelming, especially considering that some video formats serve as “containers” for several different video and audio encoding options. Take mp4 format for example. If a video saved in mp4 format uses the MPEG4 or H.264 video codec and the AAC audio codec, you can import it into iMovie. If it doesn’t, you can’t.

The file formats below should be possible for most of you, given that most students will use laptops for recording. You can learn more with a Google search or by contacting me.

Preferred Format: m4v

If you use iMovie for your recording and export it using the Share menu and the Export option (the only one with the keyboard shortcut), the exported video will be in m4v format.

Also OK: mov or mp4

If you use an iPhone, your video will be in mov format. If you use YouTube’s webcam and download the file, it will be in mp4 format. Both of these are web-ready formats for videos.

Might Need Conversion: wmv and 3gp

wmv is the default format for a video exported out of Windows MovieMaker, and 3gp is a common format for videos on smart phones other than iPhones.

If you upload either format to a video host like YouTube, then everyone will be able to view the video. But if you upload it to Google Drive, the video may not be playable on the web, in which case you’d need to convert it to m4v first.

All Others

Did you end up with something different? If so, use a free, web-based media converter like Zamzar to convert the video to m4v (preferred) or mp4 (if m4v isn’t an option).

If you end up in a situation where you need to choose the video and audio encoding options for your video, choose these: MPEG4 or H.264 for the video codec and AAC for the audio codec. (You don’t need to understand what these mean, but if you’re curious, you can find lots of info via Google.)


If you’ll need to upload your video to Google Drive, check this Google help page for info on the video file formats you can use: Video Files in Google Drive

For general info on sharing your videos with others, see this help page: How to share a video you created with others

If you’ll need to post your video to the blog, see: How to embed a video in a blog post.