Recording a Short Video Presentation

In my last post, Recording Yourself Giving a Talk, I shared step-by-step recording instructions, tools to enhance your video talk, and general suggestions for setting, lighting, and sound. However, you may also want to include videos, images, or graphics in your recorded talk or to create a freestanding multimedia presentation or video. In this post, I will cover some tools for creating a multimedia or video presentation with links to helpful sites to get you started.

Getting Started

First of all, I recommend exploring the resources for video and multimedia production at your institution or in your community. Many colleges, universities, and public libraries offer free access to tools for creating video presentations. For example, the Harvard Law School Library provides a list of presentation tools list with links to presentation and video programs. For those who are unsure about how to plan and execute a video project, the University of Minnesota has this self-help guide, which lays out the process of making a video from scouting locations, exploring audio and narration techniques to posting the video publicly. The videos in this guide are from, a fee-based service that provides tutorials for video production, software (such as Adobe products and the Microsoft Office suite), postproduction, and distribution. However, if your institution or local library does not have a subscription, there are many free tutorials on sites like YouTube and Vimeo that can do the trick. If you run aross particularly good resources for multimedia projects or presentations, please share them in the comments!

Desktop Tools


In a previous post, David Ayala-Alfonso discussed how to create a PowerPoint presentation with images and video. However, PowerPoint can also be used to create a video of your multimedia presentation. Not only can you record audio narration of your slides, animate texts or objects, and use transitions between slides to enhance your presentation, you can also export a video file of your presentation once complete. Don't forget to add captions using a software tool like Amara before you submit it, though.

Recording Your Screen

Screen recording is another simple way to give a multimedia presentation. Arrange elements like video and images on your desktop and then offer some spoken narration as you engage with them by pointing at them with your cursor or playing the video or sound. You can set your desktop background image to complement the content, and you can even capture video of yourself as you record your desktop. To record your screen on a Mac computer, follow these steps:

  • First, move the cursor to the magnifying glass at the top right of your screen.
  • Click on the magnifying glass to initiate Spotlight Search; a search bar will appear on your screen.
  • Type in QuickTime Player and hit enter or select with your cursor.
  • In the menu bar at the top of your screen (where the Apple icon appears next to the words QuickTime Player), click on File.
  • Then, select New Screen Recording.
  • Click the screen to begin recording the full screen, or you may highlight an area of the screen with your cursor to select a specific portion of the screen to record.
  • To end your screen recording, move your cursor to the top right of your menu bar and click the stop button.

Important: You can also use QuickTime to record a PowerPoint presentation with audio on a Mac. To do so, open QuickTime Player, start recording your screen following the instructions above, and then start your slideshow. After you are done recording, follow the prompts in QuickTime Player to save/export your recording.

Most versions of Windows require a separate screen recording app, but Windows 10 has a built-in screen recording option within the Xbox app.  

Mobile Video Apps

While desktop solutions like PowerPoint or QuickTime may seem easier, I highly recommend exploring the multitude of video-making apps available for your mobile device. You often just select an image or video, narrate over or add your own sound, and then add text or graphics. Magisto offers scaled subscriptions depending upon your needs, but may be too sleek for some projects. If you are used to Adobe products, Spark Video may be more your speed. iMovie is an excellent choice for those who like to drag and drop without fiddling with too many dials. For you dial-turners, Adobe Premiere Clip is available on Android devices, as is a new and easier-to-use version of Video Maker.

Social Media

You may want to use social media video tools such as Vine, Snapchat, or Boomerang (from Instagram) to record images, video, and sound; some of these tools allow you to superimpose graphics, texts, or emojis. You can save videos directly from most of these apps to cloud-based or local storage and then upload them into video editors to incorporate into a longer presentation.

I recommend consulting this list from the Guardian and this blog post from Android Authority for more choices of video apps.

Think about using two cameras and an audio recorder so you can cut between the two angles, as I did in this interview with Gísli Pálsson. Screen capture by Jen K. Hughes.


There are a few video editing programs you may find useful, particularly if you are combining media from multiple sources or formats (e.g., images, video, sounds, and narration). iMovie and Windows Media Maker remain the simplest. I recommend organizing the media you want to use into well-labeled folders first; I usually keep mine on my desktop for ease while working on a project. It is helpful to make an outline, script, or storyboard of the material and label each media file ahead of time in the order you want each to appear in your final product (example: Hughes_SCA/SVA_Video_1.mp4). Once your media is organized, in iMovie, you simply drag your media from the folders you have made into the program window.

Many editing programs, like iMovie, use “drag-and-drop” import to make editing easy. Screen capture by Jen K. Hughes.

From there, you can drag-and-drop the imported media into your “timeline” (the sequence of media in order of its appearance), insert video to run behind images or other video, and add in transitions, titles, or superimposed text. There are many good tutorials on how to create a video using iMovie. If you don’t have a Mac, you may want to try Windows Media Maker. Here, the quality of tutorials varies, but if you have the time, I recommend this longer how-to.

For the more advanced or adventurous media maker, Premiere Pro (Adobe) or Final Cut Pro are the industry standards. These can be expensive but your institution may have licenses available or media labs with the software installed. I prefer Premiere Pro because I was already familiar with Adobe Photoshop, but both are worth exploring. Like iMovie and Windows Media Maker, Premiere Pro and Final Cut allow you to drag-and-drop media into timelines to create sequences of media, but they also offer professional-grade color correction, graphics, titles, and transitions, as explained in these tutorials for Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro.

Here, I have used Premiere Pro’s color-coding feature to organize my media timeline in order to edit this video about an opera singer. Screen capture by Jen K. Hughes.

For ideas about form, consider revisiting the video call for papers created by Anand Pandian. Hannah Paveck’s recent review for the Visual and New Media section of the Cultural Anthropology website offers other ideas for soundscapes or aural montages.

Once you are finished with your video, you will need to export it, which means gathering all of the included media into one consolidated video file and saving it to a location you designate. Since the organizers of the Biennial Meeting want registered conference participants to be the first to see your work, we don’t recommend uploading it to social media or video hosting sites before your scheduled presentation time!


In preparing for the Biennial Meeting, there are multiple tools available to create visual or multimedia presentations. You may choose to use desktop computers, handheld devices, or web-based applications to record, organize, and share your contributions. However you choose to #displace2018, this post has emphasized that there are numerous tools at hand.

Further Reading

Barbash, Illisa, and Lucien Taylor. 1997. Cross-Cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Video. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Grimshaw, Anna. 2001. The Ethnographer’s Eye: Ways of Seeing in Anthropology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hockings, Paul, ed. 2003. Principles of Visual Anthropology. 3rd edition. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Pink, Sarah, ed. 2007. Visual Interventions: Applied Visual Anthropology. New York: Berghahn.

Schneider, Arnd, and Caterina Pasqualino, eds. 2014. Experimental Film and Anthropology. New York: Bloomsbury.

Suhr, Christian, and Rane Willerslev, eds. 2013. Transcultural Montage. New York: Berghahn.