Video Style Guide

The purpose of these guidelines is to make clear the minimum quality standards for VCU videos produced and displayed internally to the university and/or externally to the public for promotional or educational purposes. While technology is constantly changing, our minimum standards will continue to evolve as well. This document will be updated when significant industry changes become the recognized new “standard.” 4K video and/or UHD (Ultra High Definition) and even 6K and 8K video have already become the standard acquisition formats for most professional productions, and even YouTube and Netflix can now stream 4K video and above. While 1080p is the VCU minimum standard, if 4K or higher acquisition is available, it is highly recommended. Contact Dan Brazda (djbrazda@vcu.edu) and Joe Kuttenkuler (jpkutten@vcu.edu) from University Relations Video for more on this subject.

Video production standards

Progressive video mastered at 1920x1080 is the minimum standard for all VCU video productions regardless of their final distribution. Apple ProRes 422 HQ is highly recommended as the minimum quality format, but if it is not available use the codec with the least lossy compression. Frame rate can be 24p, 30p, 48p or 60p as this decision is usually somewhat subjective (higher frame rates are usually used to denote a “live” or “you are there” feel while 24p video is commonly known for more of a cinema-like or storytelling vibe). Avoid interlaced formats unless required for broadcast.

Video postproduction and delivery

Any editing system that can work with 1080p video or higher is acceptable as long as it has the ability to output, or compress with additional software, the final video in the many formats that may be needed for delivery. One of the most common delivery websites is YouTube. It is by far the best practice to upload your 1080p or higher master directly to YouTube, since YouTube then further compresses the video for streaming. If you compress your master (even if it is to YouTube’s recommended specs), the video ends up being compressed twice. 

Other Delivery Methods

DVDs are a standard definition, highly compressed format.  Blu-rays are a high definition (currently 1080p HD or 2160p UHD), less compressed format. A Digital Movie file (e.g., QuickTime) can be as high quality as your master as long as the machine playing it back (usually a laptop computer) has the power to play it without skipping. If storing your master file on a flash drive, be sure to transfer it directly to the computer’s hard drive since flash drives often don’t have the ability to playback high quality video files. Always try to arrange to play a Digital Movie file first. If that isn’t possible, suggest Blu-ray. Your last choice should be DVD as this is by far the lowest quality solution.

If the need arises for a broadcast television commercial, it is highly recommended you contact Dan Brazda (djbrazda@vcu.edu) and Joe Kuttenkuler (jpkutten@vcu.edu) from University Relations Video. Very specific technical standards exist for these spots and depending on the broadcast entity, these standards are rarely the same.

The proper utilization of the VCU logo in all video productions is critical to our identity. While the decision for placement and location of the logo is often dictated by the concept and content of the video, excluding the logo is usually not an option.

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