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Video Making Tips

So, you want to make a great Video Matsuri Contest entry?

This page will explain some filming and editing tips and tricks that will help you to make a great short film.


It is not necessary to have expensive gear. The best investment you can make if you want to make a great film, is to arm yourself with knowledge! With a bit of know-how of the fundamentals of filmmaking, you can avoid the usual pitfalls, and use a few well known “techniques” that will really help to make your film look great.

Shooting Basics

Audio Basics

Try a number of different takes and make sure you are getting enough audio so that you can hear the speakers’ voices. As you will discover, the main thing you need to think about is the distance of the microphone to the source of the sound.

Whether you are recording the voices of a number of people, or one person will make a difference to your approach. Here is a video that explains a great way to get excellent sound from a single source.

If you are recording more than one person’s voice at the same time, you might need to start delving into the world of microphones. The website has a great introduction to the topic.

Understanding Copyright

Whenever you create something it is automatically protected as your intellectual property by copyright law. You don’t even have to register the creation for the copyright to take effect. It’s yours!

When you make your video, by default, your work will be copyrighted, and no-one will be able to use it for any purpose except with your permission.

But this goes for others work too, so when you are selecting material for to use when creating your videos, you have to be careful not to break copyright law.

Checkout what Mayer and Bettle have to say on the topic of copyright for information and inspiration.

These Mayer and Beattle videos were really helpful for making this page. And because they were licensed with a Creative Commons license, they were free to use. Subarashii! The only condition, according to their license, is “Attribution” which means that we have to state who made the videos, just like we did above. See best practices for crediting works under Creative Commons. Maybe you could give your video a Creative Commons licence, so that other people can use it too!

Remember, with a Creative Commons Licence you can decide HOW you want to let others use your work. AND you can get a cool little CC License button which matches your licence type to stick next to your work.


Due to Copyright laws, you cannot use other people’s music for your video. The Japan Foundation has to be very strict with this rule to comply with the law.

Think of it as a creative challenge!

If there are any talented or aspiring musicians amongst your film making group you can try creating your own music. You could draw inspiration from the wide variety of music of Japan, from traditional to contemporary, underground to popular.

Alternatively, the internet provides as a huge resource bank of music and interesting sound effects which are free to use, sample, remix etc. (A list of links compiled by Creative Commons)

If you have any recommendations to add to this list, let us know!


As with music, we have to be very strict about the images that you put in your video. Every single image that you use for your Video Matsuri entry needs to be original, or unrestricted for your use by copyright. Again, this can be seen as a creative challenge for budding photographers or alternatively, you can turn to the web.

Here’s a list of creative commons and royalty free site from which you find loads of goodies: (search The Commons) (Search Creative Commons) (Search Creative Commons)

If you have any recommendations to add to this list, let us know!

How to Edit

After you have gone out into the field and recorded all your film and audio, its time to upload it all to your computer and begin the editing process.

Vimeo Video School have prepared excellent introductory information on how to edit your videos at Video 101: Editing Basics. You can also find more system-specific information at I-Movie on Mac and Windows Movie Maker on PC.

There are a lot of other powerful editing programs out there, so if you have access to different software, feel free to use it. There are also loads of freely available tutorials, so have a look around and you might find instructions on how to use a variety of programs for editing.


While you are editing, save, save, save, and make back-ups, for example on a portable hard drive, or somewhere on “the cloud”. A wise guru once said, “digital information does not exist unless you have three copies of it” [presses save].

So you’ve finished editing your masterpiece and it’s all ready to go. There is just one last important step you need to take to make your video ready for the web.

Your final edited file will probably be very large, while it may be acceptable to upload it an uncompressed file*, if your file is more than 50MB making the file smaller will make it more suitable for uploading. Please see ‘Converting Your Files’ below for further information on how to do this.

*Note: If you choose to compress your video file, please take care to use the correct custom settings – see format/file type on the Contest Rules page.

Converting Your Files

You may need to compress your video to reduce the file size. This can be done in just a few simple steps using video conversion software available online.

Your film should be saved in one of the following file formats before uploading:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)

For other file types, see YouTube’s troubleshooter to learn how to convert your file.

See recommended video file encoding settings and resolution and aspect ratios.

Judges’s Tips

  • Pronunciation – practice well and know when one word ends and the next begins. You’ll sound more fluent and natural.
  • Don’t overreach – it’s better to stick with your language abilities.
  • Learn your lines and don’t read off scripts.
  • Use a better microphone to capture quality audio or a windproof cover when outdoors to prevent wind blowing from into the microphone. This way we can hear you better.
  • Simple can be good because complex stories may be too hard to convey within the limited timeframe.
  • Ask your Japanese teacher or a native speaker to check your script and avoid mistakes.
  • Thinking of clever and interesting ways to incorporate the signature item without over-exaggerating its use in the story
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