Prepare to Film

Make film day a breeze by doing the work ahead of time! Get your materials and equipment ready, set up your space, and create a game plan for filming your class.

In this article:


In this lesson from our teacher training class, Teach on Skillshare: Plan, Publish, and Promote an Engaging Class, Top Teachers Aaron Palabyab, Desdemona Dallas, and Fred Trevino review a few things you’ll need before you start filming, including getting the right equipment and setting up your space.

Create a Film Day Plan

Many teachers say that taking the time to prepare in advance makes their teaching easier and more effective. With all of the preparation out of the way, you can just focus on teaching on film day! Here are a few strategies to help you get ready.

  • Block 3 to 4 hours of uninterrupted time on your calendar for filming. If you’re shooting your first class you might need more time!
  • Spend a little time before film day getting organized. Set up your equipment, materials, and props. Test your camera, microphone, and lights to make sure all of your equipment is working correctly.
  • Practice your lessons. We can’t stress this enough! Review our tips in the article Teach with Confidence to help you get comfortable on camera.
  • Fill out your shot list (included in the Class Planning Template) to plan ahead on what shots you need to capture on film day. A shot list can also help you keep track of each take to make editing easier.
  • Make a note to grab some additional material for marketing your class and B-roll. You may need:
    • A few high-quality still images of you and your example project on the camera you used to shoot. Headshots are helpful for marketing purposes!
    • “Behind the scenes” photos and footage. We recommend shooting some of this material on your phone in both horizontal and vertical formats so they work for social media posts.
If you typically shoot your classes yourself, consider enlisting a friend to capture this additional material for you.

Prepare Your Visuals

In line with our Class Quality Guidelines, we highly recommend using varied visuals throughout your class to break up static shots and keep students engaged. Visuals can include on-screen text, slides, or example images; even switching up camera angles or adding in B-roll (the supplemental footage intercut into your main shot) from time to time works! More importantly, adding slides or text can help bookend your lessons, orient students, emphasize key takeaways, or explain complex ideas.

Need some tips on what to capture for B-roll? Check out the article Film Your Class for a list of ideas.

If you are planning to use slides or images in your class, we recommend preparing them before you film. Knowing what you’ll be editing into your video and where will help you refer to the correct images during filming. Here are a few tips for creating your own slides and graphics:

  • Use a consistent color palette, font, and layout throughout your class. This is your opportunity to extend your brand into your class! Create a visual identity that complements the style of your work, brand, or topic.
  • Use fonts that are easy to read. As a guide, imagine how your video might look on a mobile device and scale text accordingly.
  • Keep it simple. Your slides should match and follow the pacing of your narration, but you don’t have to spell out everything. Think about how to summarize your thoughts neatly in words and limit the amount of information shown on screen at a time so you’re not overwhelming your students.
  • Make sure your slides are the correct resolution and dimensions so they fit neatly into your edited video with no pixelation. We recommend setting the dimensions of your slides to 1920 x 1080p (16:9 ratio).
The overall visual design for Shelley Skail's class, A Mindful Approach to Practicing Watercolor: Values, Palettes & Brush Control, is particularly compelling in how it echoes the topic (watercolor) but also in how it is consistently applied across her entire class. Her lesson title cards (1) and supplementary slides (2) follow a similar layout, typeface, and color scheme. Elsewhere in the class, she uses similarly-designed elements to share "top tips" over her talking head footage (3) or to highlight specific techniques (4) during physical demonstrations.

Gather Your Assets

There are a ton of resources on the web for royalty-free assets — either free or low-cost — to use in your class. Here are some online repositories that other teachers have used to source media for their classes.

Make sure that anything you use is cleared for commercial use and add an attribution or credit to your class if the creator specifies it.

Royalty-free Music: Adding some music to your intro and conclusion videos can help set the mood for your class and get students excited about what you’re about to teach.

Royalty-free Sound Effects: Can be helpful to highlight specific points in your lessons and videos, or even to add some humor. Get creative!