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Video Storytelling

Video is one of the most popular ways to tell stories, and the stories that make for the most compelling videos are ones that showcase something visual, distil complex information in a clear and concise way, engage students and staff and, most importantly, inspire emotion.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine the kind of video you want:

What is the purpose of your video?

The best videos are singular in their objective. Spend time upfront getting clear about your intention. Are you building brand awareness, promoting a program, recruiting new students, raising money, or making an announcement of some sort? The clearer you can get on what the purpose of your video is, the sharper the story will be.

Who is the ideal audience for your video?

Who is your video intended for? Is it current students, prospective students, faculty and staff, or alumni? How old are they? What sorts of things do they like?

Where are they most likely to see your video?

Determine the channel(s) your audience will see your video be it through TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, a website or email.

What do you want them to do after watching your video?

Identify a clear call to action for the audience based on the purpose of the video. That could be asking them to sign up for an event, donate to your cause or visit a webpage.

What is the ideal length of your video?

The channel(s) your video will be played on will determine the ideal length of the video. As a general rule, try to keep your video on the shorter side (under 2 minutes) as more concise and succinct videos tend to perform better.

Familiarize yourself with the Ryerson brand toolkit for the permitted use of the logo, lock-ups, brand colours, fonts, and graphics for your text and animations. In addition to the brand guidelines, here you’ll find rules specific for video.

Typography & Text Colour

Ensure that text remains legible and accessible by using these recommended text and colour combinations:

  • Use the font Replica, not Lyon or Polaris.
  • Use black or white fonts to maximize contrast and to ensure better legibility.
  • Black or white text on a coloured background is permitted as long as it meets an accessibility rating of AA or AAA.
Ryerson branded colours with black and white text to indicate accessible combinations

Typesetting

Follow these guidelines to increase readability:

  • Keep text on screen to a minimum. As a general rule, use no more than ⅓ of the screen with text to increase readability and engagement.
  • Headlines, subheads and body copy are always set in sentence case.
  • Ensure type is left aligned and that all text is within the correct safe zones. Please see technical requirements below for the recommended text safety areas.
  • As a general rule, text should be no taller than 10% of the screen height (for example: a 16:9 screen should have a maximum font size of 150pt).

Before the shoot

Think ahead to the edit and ask, what shots will I need? This will help you focus on the most important elements of your story, making the editing process easier.

Location

Choose a location that is quiet, well lit and visually interesting. Opt for backdrops with simple details such as a textured wall, a bookshelf, a staircase, or a tree lined park. If a simple background isn’t possible, opt for a clean blank wall.

Sound

Good sound adds another layer of polish to your video. If you’re filming an interview style video, make sure to record in a quiet space with as few interruptions as possible. Listen for outside noise such as street sounds (sirens, car horns, bike bells), air conditioners, wind, pets, kids or other disruptive noises.

Lighting, exposure & white balance

Keep your source of light consistent and avoid big contrasts caused by direct sunlight as you can’t save overexposed and underexposed shots in the edit. Use a natural light source such as a large window facing the person you are filming. Make use of your camera’s automatic settings when it comes to exposure and white balance.

Framing

Make sure your subject is inside the frame by using the rule of thirds. Doing so will help to balance your composition.

Capturing footage

To minimize camera shake, make use of a tripod or a gimbal. Spend extra time capturing b-roll or additional footage to cut away to for a more visually interesting story.

Filming yourself

Elevate the device you’ll be capturing footage with (laptop, phone, camera) so that it’s positioned at eye level when you’re seated. Print your script or have it prepared on another screen close to your camera to avoid the appearance of reading or looking away. If the video is formal, wear suitable business attire. If the video is informal, dress in work appropriate clothing that is comfortable while avoiding visible brand logos.

Here are some tips to guide you through the edit:

  • Use only the most important clips. Leave out anything that doesn’t help tell your story.
  • Add visual variety by cutting between various shot sizes and angles.
  • Use clean cuts for transitions (no wipes or slides).
  • Monitor your sound levels and choose a music track that fits the tone of your video.
  • Keep your graphic animations soft and smooth, external link.
  • End your video with a frame featuring the logo or faculty graphic. Make use of the correct size and place it within the safe area.

Ryerson videos must include captions and voiceover to ensure all viewers are able to understand and enjoy the content. For maximum accessibility, make use of audio description. If that’s not feasible, the use of a narrator to read quotes and text on screen will help increase accessibility.

Different channels have different requirements. As a general rule, here are our recommendations based on some of the most common video placements:

Platform

Format

Aspect ratio

Resolution

Recommended length

Frame rate

Safety area

Thumbnail

Instagram IGTV

mp4

1:1 or 9:16

1080x1080 or 1080x1920

60s +

24fps

N/A

Uses first frame of the video

Instagram Stories

mp4

9:16

1080x1920

<15s

24fps

Instagram Stories safety area, external link

N/A

Instagram Feed

mp4

1:1

1080x1080

<60s

24fps

N/A

Uses first frame of the video

Instagram Reels

mp4

9:16

1080x1920

<15s

24fps

Instagram Reels safety area, external link

N/A

Facebook

mp4

1:1 or 16:9

1080x1080 or 1920x1080

60s +

24fps

N/A

N/A

TikTok

mp4

9:16

1080x1920

<15s or <60s

24fps

TikTok safety area, external link

Thumbnail can be created in the app

YouTube

mp4

16:9

1920x1080

60s +

24fps

N/A

YouTube thumbnail template., external link Please see best practises on Ryerson YT channel., external link

Linkedin

mp4

1:1 or 16:9

1080x1080 or  1920x1080

60s + up to 10 min

24fps

N/A

N/A

Twitter

mp4

1:1 or 16:9

1080x1080 or 1920×1080

<60s +

(max length: 2 minutes 20 seconds)

24fps

N/A

N/A

Here are a variety of videos that demonstrate the tips outlined in the above guidelines.

The combination of existing footage, text on screen, animation, graphics and voiceover work together to create a visually interesting and engaging video story.

Ideal for event coverage, explainer videos, or short stories, videos optimized for social media are in 1:1 square format and use text on screen to effectively tell the story.

The use of full text and graphic animation or partial animation combined with footage helps to deliver a video that’s strongly connected to the brand.

Leverage a variety of shots and locations captured through b-roll to create a dynamic and engaging interview style video.

Promotional or commercial videos are typically part of advertising campaigns that start with a strong creative idea to stoke emotion and deliver a clear message through the use of powerful visuals and polished sound.

Here are some tools and resources to bring your video to life:

Ryerson video library, external link

Access drone shots, campus and building footage, student life content, Zones and more.

Stock footage sites

Stock music sites

Consent form

Voiceover

Caption generator