Finding and Using Video

Academic Video Use

Video is an impactful academic resource as moving images often convey more than written text alone.

This page introduces you to the major aspects of finding, creating, and using video.

Finding Video

The following sections outline the process of an effective media search–a process that includes the identification of project need and the location of appropriate resources.

Identifying Your Need

Before you conduct your video search, consider the following:

  • What is the purpose of the video within your project? Will it serve as evidence, primary source, focus of analysis/critique/commentary, or raw data for scientific analysis?
  • What is your intended audience?
  • What is the environment for your project (e.g., academic vs. web page)?
  • What specific criteria should your video meet (e.g., content, file type, file size)?
  • Are there discipline-specific conventions for video use?
  • What video sources will you choose from (e.g., digital, analog, subscription databases, or personal creations)?

Pay attention to the following as you conduct your search:

  • Rights and restrictions of use associated with video files
  • Textual information associated with in video files (e.g., supporting text, user-generated tags, creator information, repository names, keywords, or other supporting information about the media file)

Adapted from the ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

Common File Formats:

  • AVI [Audio Video Interleave]: Large files & high quality
    “Primary digital video file format used by Microsoft Windows. An .avi file can contain a variety of codecs but usually yields high quality video and typically generates a large file.” — “AVI.” Oral History in the Digital Age, Accessed 16 Jun. 2023.
  • MOV: Files can be large
    “A primary digital video format developed and utilized by Apple and native to Quicktime systems. MOV files contain multiple streams of audiovisual or text data. A MOV file can contain standard or high definition video encoded using extremely high bitrates and a variety of codecs including H.264. MOV is also interchangeable with the MPEG-4 container format.” — “MOV (.mov).”Oral History in the Digital Age, Accessed 16 Jun. 2023.
  • MP4: Smaller file sizes & lossy format.
    “MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store other data such as subtitles and still images. Like most modern container formats, it allows streaming over the Internet.” —Wikipedia contributors. “MP4 file format.” Wikipedia, Accessed 16 Jun. 2023.

For more information, check out Adobe’s Video File Format and Codec Basics.

Resources for Finding Video

Name Subject Area Description Permits Downloading Use/Rights Subscription Required
Streaming Film Content Available through W&L Library movies/film The University Library provides a variety of streaming content in order support W&L’s curriculum. NO Several streaming film platforms allow users to create clips of films and also playlists. Refer to each platforms terms of service for further information on rights/usage. YES (paid for by the University Library)
European Southern Observatory Space/Science “ESO brings together over 750 staff from more than 30 countries, and countless more collaborators worldwide, all driven by the passion to build the best telescopes, serve the community and benefit society.”—ESO Site includes a wide variety of astronomical videos. YES Click here for details on how to interpret the ESO license. NO
Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive varied subject matter “This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.” —Internet Archive YES “See Internet Archive Terms & Conditions. NO
YouTube varied subject matter Online video sharing platform, owned by Google —YouTube NO.
From YouTube:
“Now with YouTube Shorts, you can create short videos sampling someone else’s content, provided they have given you permission to do so.”
View YouTube’s information on Copyright NO

Using Video

Once you have found appropriate video sources, you still may need to alter them to fit your project. Remember, as with any other data, avoid altering content in a way that may be misleading or misrepresent the original source.

See Washington and Lee University’s General Counsel’s policies and resources concerning intellectual property/copyright.

Video Editing Software

Software Name Availability
Adobe Premiere Pro Available in certain university computer labs and in the Harte Center’s Video Editing Rooms [on Leyburn Library’s Lower Level 1].
Final Cut Pro Available in certain university Mac labs and in the Harte Center’s Video Editing Rooms [on Leyburn Library’s Lower Level 1].
iMovie Available in certain university Mac labs and in the Harte Center’s Video Editing Rooms [on Leyburn Library’s Lower Level 1].

Creating Your Own Video

Just as when evaluating pre-created video content, creating new videos requires a consideration of audience, environment, technical criteria, and disciplinary conventions. There are many resources to help you make these important decisions, including a wide selection of content available to W&L students/faculty/staff through LinkedInLearning and O’Reilly [ebooks] for Higher Education.