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Multimedia Literacy

This research guide will help you to get started on your multimedia project.

Frame It

Goal: make sure your camera can clearly capture what you want the viewer to see.

Frame your subject.  Think about the composition of your shots. Think about what you are trying to convey in your video project, and who your audience might be. Ask yourself:

  • What is your message?
  • At the end of your video, what do you want the audience to understand, feel, contemplate?
  • How will your video convey this?

Observe the rule of thirds: make two imaginary horizontal and vertical intersecting lines in a grid pattern and place it over your composition. The focus of your shots should be where the two lines intersect. When shooting scenes with vertical or horizontal lines (such as a landscape), try to line up your shots with the vertical and horizontal lines as guidelines. Try not to place your subject directly in the middle of the frame. The rule of thirds (and other compositional guidelines) are not hard and fast rules, however. Use your best judgment in framing your subject to achieve your desired effect.

Rule of Thirds     Rule of Thirds Face  
Photo credit: Michael Hernandez, ktspix, Michelle W.

Ep. 5: Shot Composition -- Part 1 from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Shot types

Try to get a variety of shot types. Wide shots are more informational in character, while shots become more intense and convey more emotion the closer in you get. and Vimeo Video School offer an informative overview of shot types. 

     Extreme Wide Shot                                                 Wide Shot                                                    Medium Shot

     Medium Close Up                                                    Close Up                                                     Extreme Close Up

Photo Credit: 

Ep. 6: Shot Composition -- Part 2 from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Other tips


Use a tripod.  Even if you think you have steady hands, try to use a tripod. Otherwise, your shots may not turn out as steady as you think. If you do not have a tripod at hand, try to put the camera on something stationary, such as a table.

Use "handles." Record an extra 3 to 5 seconds at the beginning and end of your shots. These “handles” can be very helpful when it comes time to edit. 

“Man the camera.”  Use tilts (moving the camera up and down), pans (moving the camera side to side), and zooms (moving the lens backward and forward) to make a shot more interesting. Camera and lens movements should be done slowly (you can always speed up your shots while editing your video). Remember to include ample stationary footage as well so that you have a variety of options to choose from. Shoot from multiple angles and think about the sequence and effect you are trying to portray. 

Recording on a mobile device

It's often said that the best camera is the one that's with you, and chances are, you might end up using your mobile device to capture video footage. Check out Vimeo Video School's Mastering Mobile Video series, including this episode on Best Practices.

Additionally, here are some tips to make sure you get the shots you want:

  • Shoot horizontally.
  • Make sure you have enough memory. Delete any photos, videos, or apps you don't need so that it frees up your phone's memory. 
  • Charge your device and bring a backup battery.
  • Stabilize your shots
    • Brace your arms against your chest while holding the mobile device
    • Place the mobile device against a steady surface, like a table or fence
  • Record good audio
    • Use an external microphone if you can
    • Record backup audio on a second mobile device or digital voice recorder
    • Record close to the sound source, if possible

If you do find yourself leaning towards Mobile Production, the Student Multimedia Design Center has a couple of items you might be interested in loaning:


     Cell Phone Tripod Kit                                               VideoMic Me                

 Cell Phone Recording Accessories Kit                         Steadicam Smoothee Kit