Making Short Form Videos

flickr photo by clevercupcakes shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by clevercupcakes shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

scan with app


It used to be it took technical teams, time, and expensive equipment to create a video. Today you can produce compelling video content on a mobile device that first in your pocket. In this studio, we explore “short form” videos that in many ways are somewhere between a photograph and a video, rather than like film.

Short form video can help document processes, motion, or sequential procedures in just a few seconds to demonstrate the step of a process or show something that is important to understand. Stop motion video can stress the important portions of actions that may take a long time to play out in the world. Repeated or looped video can quickly reinforce an idea. Or you can generate can draw attention to your content with a stop-motion animation or surrealistic remixes.

In this studio, you will explore creating video or animation loops from images and video captured with iPad camera.

Examples to Inspire Ideas

These KINDS OF videos are familiar in social media. As “memes” they are often attempts at humor or expression of emotions. We have a small collection of examples created with the tools used in the challenges for this studio.

Short Form Video Examples

Review at least 4 videos. Try to identify the most compelling features as well as considering what things you might try to conveyed in a short, repeated video.

Considerations For Creating Short Videos

  • A short video may take a lot of planning. Consider sketching out the flow or creating storyboards (see the Storyboard challenge). If the video will loop plan on how to repeat the first frames into the last so the loop looks smooth.
  • Set up good lighting. The iPad video camera is not very high quality, so makr sure you plan to shoot in the best lighting possible. Your videos will be better with bright, even lighting, see if you can move outdoors or use natural light coming in through windows. Use something like a white piece of cardboard to bounce natural light back into your subject area. Consider other light sources for indoor video work.
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds and foregrounds. Remove anything that might clutter or be distracting in the foreground or the background. Use a solid sheet or blanket to hide what is behind your subject. Do not film into open windows or where there are strong lights in the background.
  • Pay attention to audio levels. Try to record in a place free of background noise. Unless you are using an external microphone make sure the source of your sounds are within a few feet of the iPad.
  • Prop up the iPad steady. Holding the device in your hands will only work if you want the shaky feel in your video. Experiment with ways to prop up the iPad by leaning it against objects or use accessories meant to hold iPads steady.
  • Learn how the tool or app you are using allows you to fine tune or export the video Many apps require you record in sequence. You might be challenged to fit your idea into the 6 seconds allowed by Vine or the 15 seconds of an Instagram video. Some apps (Animoto, Hyperlapse) will allow you to export or save the video to your camera roll on the iPad, and from there you can upload to YouTube.

Resources For Creating Short Videos


  • Make a 30 Second Animoto – With Animoto you select photos and video clips from your iPad and it can turn them into highly stylized videos up to 30 seconds in length. It chooses video effects to match your content. Select from pre-built themes and a music library.
  • GIFBooming a Short Video – use a series of images or short video clips recorded on your device to turn create an animated GIF.
  • Looping Vines and Instagram Videos – Experiment with making continuous looping videos from 6 seconds max (Vine) to 15 seconds (Instagram).
  • Speed Up Time with Hyperlapse – Compress time for a walkthrough or a stop motion sequence.
  • An Acapella Message combine up to nine videos that play together at once.


What kinds of ways can you use the looping nature of short videos? Consider them not strictly as stand alone pieces of instructional content, but perhaps as part of other materials and activities. What might students learn in creating such kinds of video themselves? What does the affordance of a mobile device enable for them to create videos out in the world?

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