VIdeo Best Practices

student with flip video cameraNorthwestern University encourages the use of YouTube to communicate with prospective and current students, staff, faculty, partners and alumni. YouTube is a powerful tool for allowing students and staff to showcase departmental work and build recognition. Use this guide to instruct users on how to professionally and productively use YouTube.

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing social media site and provides a good platform to visually showcase your department or group, encourage participation, network and build recognition. The following guidelines are intended to help YouTube users conduct their online activities in a successful, productive and legal manner.

Preparing and submitting your video content for publishing on your department’s YouTube channel

Technical specifications:

  • Video content files should be provided in either MP4 format (also known as MPEG-4) or M4V format that does not contain DRM copyright protection. Videos created with digital video cameras such as the Flip (Cisco) or PlayTouch (Kodak), high quality smartphones, and other digital recording devices are generally created in one of these formats. The manual for your recording device should specify the file type of the videos it creates. If your video is not in one of these two formats, see the list of resources below for software to convert it to the correct file type.
  • The most popular videos are short in length (1-5 minutes long). However, an individual file must be less than 20 GB in size. Long running videos or larger files will need to be split into multiple video clips prior to submission.
  • YouTube supports both standard definition and high definition (HD) video. HD is preferred. Recommended aspect ratio for standard definition is 640 x 480 pixels. Recommended aspect ratio for HD is 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p) or 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • Preferred video codec: H.264 or MPEG-2. The manual for your recording device should specify which codec the videos are using. 

Describing and tagging your work:

  • A title and description (provided as a text file or contained in the body of an email) must accompany each video clip submitted
  • Title must be fewer than 40 characters in length; otherwise, it may not appear correctly in some locations within the channel.
  • Description must be between 100-700 characters in length, and can include hyperlinks to related information.
  • Northwestern University should appear at least once in either the title or description (preferably the title) so that it can be found via the YouTube search engine.
  • Optional items: include tags (keywords separated by a comma that describe the video and help your video content to be found via the YouTube search engine); date and location of when and where video was recorded.
  • Video submissions should be of original work. If video was authored by someone other than the person submitting the video, SAIT requires written permission from the video's creator before it can be published to your department’s YouTube channel.

Important information about copyright:

Video submissions should be of original work. If video was authored by someone other than the person submitting the video, SAIT requires written permission from the video's creator before it can be published to your department's YouTube channel.

Video authoring resources, tutorials and utilities: