Best Practices

This is a guide for everyone in our community to use when creating videos that will carry the UC Davis logo. These best practices and standards cover graphics, captioning and how to create strong videos.

They will help you:

  • Support the UC Davis brand
  • Create videos that reflect the quality of our education
  • Communicate in a clear, consistent and compelling way


Please refer to the Visual Identity section for the latest graphics. Currently, we’re using a very simple UC Davis logo with no taglines.

It’s important to keep a consistent look throughout the videos we collectively produce. By doing so, we project a unified, strong message that over time has the greatest chance of having an impact.

Graphics tips

Try to keep your graphics use clean and simple. Avoid filling the frame with a graphic — it can feel overpowering to the audience. A 15-frame fade-in, and fade-out is suggested.

Closed captioning

Closed captioning is not optional. All of our videos are mandated by law to be captioned. If you’re unsure of how to do this, watch our how-to video:

Video: MFA Student Creates Tiny Sculptures

How to tell strong stories using video

As a medium, video works best in helping an audience form an emotional reaction to someone or something. Use the video to capture your audiences’ imagination, leaving them wanting more. A few tips:

1. Focus on one message

A common mistake is jamming too much information in a video. This encourages audiences to drop off and move on. Keep things short, simple and moving. Focus on one message and save the details for accompanying websites or written copy.

2. Make good choices with music, B-roll and interviews

  • There are many sites that offer subscription services for royalty free music, like AudioBlocks and Shutterstock. Strategic Communications uses APM Music.
  • Be subtle — don’t tell your audience how to feel.
  • Look for music that is upbeat, driving in terms of pace.
  • Use music that is copyright cleared. It should be cleared of all permissions in advance of filming.
  • Use Strategic Communications B-roll if possible, located at
  • Use motivated shots — avoid lingering.
  • Look for sequences: wide, medium and tight.
  • Consider using a video library, such as Video Blocks, which offers unlimited use of stock footage for a modest annual fee.

Top 10 interview tips

  1. Use a tripod.
  2. Use manual focus/exposure, if possible.
  3. Look for any audio and visual distractions in the background, e.g., computer, traffic.
  4. Use a good microphone and monitor it as you shoot.
  5. Direct your subject — mirror mirror.
  6. Keep eye contact with your subject.
  7. Keep your nonverbal cues nonverbal.
  8. Ask your subject to tell you stories with their answers.
  9. Think about a beginning, middle and end to the story/interview.
  10. Wait for the answer … after the answer.
  • Don’t be afraid to direct.
  • Make a clean shot with audio/visual.
  • Choose an eye line.

3. Put it all together: high production value

Your story is only as good as your video’s production value. Make sure your video is properly exposed and thoughtfully framed. Capture clean audio. Keep your graphics simple.

Visit our playlist on YouTube for more video tips, and check out this presentation on creating mobile videos.