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Submissions Overview | Guide to Successful Submissions: Papers | Guide to PDF Files
Electronic Submissions | Guide to Successful Submissions: Video | Technology Support

Guide to Successful Submissions: Video

This guide provides information to help you prepare digital video for inclusion in the CHI2004 Video Program. CHI videos are an excellent way to reach a wider audience at the conference as well as outside the conference.

Digital video submissions are limited to 30 megabytes final data size. Please test your final file before submission to ensure that it does not exceed this limit.


There are many ways to organize a video presentation, just as there are many ways to write a scientific paper. You should select a theme for the video and present the research in a way that contributes to this goal. It is generally not a good idea to simply show all the features of your system; you should identify what is novel and interesting. Emphasize the problems or issues being addressed. Present the concepts and principles upon which the work is based. Always clearly state the status of what is being shown. If you are simulating any aspect of the system, be sure to mention this.

Remember that your video must stand alone, and be understandable to viewers who are not familiar with the subject. You cannot assume that the viewer has read your printed abstract. Therefore, most videos will need a short introduction explaining the goals and context of the work. To maximize the utility of the video for the viewer, you should also provide pointers to further or related work. You can show one or two slides containing references that the viewer can find to accomplish this. However, show these slides only briefly, as the viewer can pause or replay the video to review that information.

Before recording begins, prepare a detailed script of the video and rehearse it thoroughly. Videos require much more planning and preparation than most people think. For your rehearsal, find someone who doesn't understand what you do and make your presentation to them. This will provide good practice in speaking and help to clarify the delivery of your ideas. If your presentation involves a larger group of people it will be especially important to have the script you will speak and the production process you will use worked out in advance.

Exposition and Presentation

The exposition style of your video presentation will greatly affect its impact. Use both the visual and audio capabilities of video. Always explain what is about to happen or what is most interesting: as the narrator, tell the viewer where to look and what to look for. You might speak aloud the directions to the camera operator, such as "if you zoom in on the top right corner of the display, " which will help the viewer orient themselves. Display screens have few natural navigation aids. Make your point once, and make it effectively; avoid being repetitious.

Seek a variety of images: switch between face, screen, hands, and slides to keep the viewer's interest. Always start out with an establishing shot, which shows the context of the subject and/or group. This might be a wide shot of the group in a meeting room, a split-screen shot of users in different locations, a wide shot of a meeting participant at the computer or of the entire computer screen. This helps the viewer stay oriented. Periodically return to an establishing shot to prevent viewer confusion.

Each shot should be visually well composed. Avoid having the subject in the exact middle of the screen. Pay attention to the background and colors; the eye is drawn to the most brightly colored part of the scene. Make the lightest and brightest part be the point of interest. Carefully consider lighting and make sure that there are no distracting shadows, especially on faces (a common occurrence with overhead lighting).

Do not overuse panning, zooming and other moving shots. Begin and end each moving shot with a static shot. Avoid visual distractions, such as idly moving the mouse. Fades to black can be used as transitions between scenes, but they should not be overused. A full screen fade usually indicates a change in subject, time or place, and can be confusing when used elsewhere.

Video is different from a lecture or a demonstration. The pacing of a video presentation must be appropriate: too slow a pace is as common as too fast. A recording of a live demonstration will appear too slow. A large number of jump cuts (abrupt change of image) may create too fast a pace. And please remember that your digital video will be accessed by an international audience, so speak clearly and more slowly than is natural to successfully convey your message.

Your video need not employ professional actors, although you may wish to use professional readers to obtain the best audio results. Usually the most realistic and convincing advocate of an idea is the person responsible for the work being reported. Whoever appears before the camera should remember to speak naturally and don’t appear to be reading. Try to keep “talking heads” (close up shot of a person talking) to a minimum.

CHI2004 will not edit your video. It must be judged on its merits independent of other materials. Please submit your digital video in its final edited form.

Please remember to review the properties of your digital file and insert appropriate identifying comments. All material submitted to the CHI2004 conference will bear a copyright notice assigning copyright to ACM. The QuickTime format permits you to enter author, title, and copyright information; Please include this information in the properties of your digital video file.

Equipment and Techniques

The final production quality of a video depends both on the quality of the equipment and the training and experience of the video maker. If you have access to a high-quality production studio and trained personnel, use them. However, production quality suitable for CHI2004 can be achieved with the equipment found in most universities, companies, and homes.

Camera Basics
Maintain the quality of the original recording medium throughout the editing process by saving compression for the final version. Shoot black and white displays with a black and white camera or only one gun of a color camera, usually green.

Keeping the camera stable and level is vital. Use a tripod whenever possible. Remember that camera jiggles are more apparent in telephoto shots; take extra care in zooms and close-ups.

Avoid using different sources of light when shooting, as it make similar colors in your shot appear inconsistent. For example, avoid recording in a room with both natural and artificial light sources. The white balance setting adjusts the camera to your lighting. When setting the white balance focus the camera on the color that you want to be filmed as white. This could be a sheet of white paper or the whitest color in the scene, depending on the effect you want. Avoid having too much white in a scene because it will make all your other colors too dark. Monitor your video levels. White levels should be at 100 units, and black levels should have a pedestal of 5 to 7.5 units. If possible, include 30 seconds of color bars and tone at the beginning of the tape. The color bars must be generated by the camera or editing equipment. Color bars copied from another video are worse than none at all.

You will produce better results if you monitor your recording on a large monitor in addition to the viewfinder of the camera. Using a monitor will greatly help you determine whether your shots are correct. Remember that the final picture will not be as clear as the picture in the monitor, so zoom in closer than might seem necessary, and make sure that no important elements are at the edge of the picture.

Digital Video Format
CHI2004 does not accept analog (videotape) submissions. Your submission must be received as a digital video file. We recognize that there are a number of different possible file types for digital video playback. We recommend that you use MPEG-2 for your digital video. This digital video format is playable through a number of common desktop video players and will be viewable by reviewers and, if accepted, by the large and diverse audience who will use the disc provided to conference attendees. Please note that if your video is accepted, you will have the opportunity to resubmit your final video with minor corrections.

If you are using analog videotape and converting it to digital, you will likely introduce compression artifacts (motion blur, pixelation, audio noise, etc.). Please take this into account by planning your video accordingly: a lengthy video, at 30 megabytes final data size, will have to be considerably compressed. Therefore, fast, sweeping motions will generally result in dropped frames and appear choppy to the viewer.

Raw analog or digital footage can be 1 gigabyte per minute in data size. Editing digital video generally requires twice the disk space as the video itself. Choose what you want to preserve carefully when editing, and compress your video as a final step.

Audio quality is as important as image quality to the overall impact of your video. Try to avoid recording the noise of computer fans and disks. It is generally better to record the audio separately, by doing a voice-over in a studio or other quiet room. With a voice-over, you watch the video and record the sound that explains what is happening. Make sure that the discussion is synchronized with the action on the screen. If you have introductory "talking heads," try to do these with the computer off, or with the microphones arranged so that the computer noise is not picked up. Another motivation for doing a voice-over afterwards is that the person operating the computer can concentrate on the demo and go as fast as possible without awkward pauses while he or she thinks about what to say next. Many successful videos use trained readers for the audio, which you can find by calling acting schools or radio stations.

If it is important to hear key clicks or computer audio output (beeps), record these on a separate audio track, and mix them with the voice-over in your editing software. Similarly, if you are adding music to the video, place it on a separate track, so it will be easy to fade out music when narration begins, etc.

Recording Computer Screens
Because of incompatibilities of resolution, refresh rate, and interlacing, it is often difficult to get good shots of computer screens on video. There are ways to capture the image: by pointing a camera at the screen, or using a scan converter or video encoder to translate the computer's signal directly to an NTSC signal or videotape. You will need to experiment to find the best way of capturing screen images on video.

Most people will film the screen with a camera. In this case, darken the room to enhance contrast, and set your white balance to match the white of the screen. Position your camera to avoid distortion from the curved face of the display. You will have to pan around the screen to show different parts, because the video will usually not show the entire display in sufficient resolution to read text and see the graphics. If you have problems getting good screenshots with one camera, you might consider borrowing or renting different cameras to see if you can obtain better results.

Try to find a display that has a refresh rate that is compatible or synchronized with the video camera rate of 30 frames per second. Most displays are not, so you will get a crawling refresh line on the video. In this case, try to wait until it is not visible before each video segment. If there is a continuous beating or flashing on the video, this means that the refresh rates are completely incompatible, and you should probably not make a video using that particular display.

If you have hardware that converts your computer signal to NTSC, you can record directly from your computer to tape and digitize your tape later. A major problem with this is that single pixel horizontal lines will flicker badly (in fact, all horizontal lines of odd thickness will flicker somewhat). If your display is color, limit color saturation to 75 to 80% and choose hues carefully, especially reds, to avoid exceeding the NTSC color bandwidth.

Digital Editing
Over the last few years, the prices have come down on good quality digital video editing systems (often called non-linear editing systems). Given a reasonably fast Windows or Macintosh personal computer, the equipment necessary can be purchased for approximately US$2000 to complete a non-linear video editing workstation. You will need a fast computer, editing software, storage, and digitizing hardware. With such equipment, video clips can be captured to disk, edited and assembled with an editing program, and played back for final recording. These systems offer great flexibility in editing power, a variety of useful tools and effects not easily available via analog means, and an avoidance of degeneration issues copying your source video from one format to another. A good system will allow you to capture, edit and play back at full frame rate.

A wide range of digital video editing systems is available. For assistance with digital video editing and questions about format, data size, and submissions, please contact the conference chairs at

Usability Testing

They say that the children of shoemakers have no shoes, and that people at the human factors and ergonomics conference tend to use illegible slides! Participants in HCI conferences and publications need to make sure that their presentations and products are usable. Please test your video for usability just as you would any other product. You can start off by testing your script with colleagues and friends. Is it interesting and understandable? Next you may want to storyboard your video. Do the cuts and transitions make sense; can you visualize how it will look? As well as being useful for usability testing, the storyboard should be an important part of your planning process. Next you should do rough cuts of the video. Do people want to see more talking head shots or fewer? Is the illustration of your material clear? Is the pace too fast or too slow? Are there any particular usability problems with specific segments of the video?

Anyone who has done video editing and post-production knows that it is a surprisingly time consuming business. Moreover, if you don't have good content or a clear message, excellent editing will not make an excellent video. Please ensure that you thoroughly usability test your video, including a final test to ensure that your digital video file will play on a variety of computers.

Submitting Videos

Full Papers:

Extended Abstracts (B--earlier submissions):

Extended Abstracts (C--later submissions):


This document has drawn heavily on the Guides for Submission written by previous CHI and CSCW video chairs, originally published on the CHI '99 Conference website. If you have any questions, please contact the conference chairs at

Created August 21, 1998
Last updated September 14, 2003

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