Creating Video


Archiving begins from the moment of creation, when you record raw video footage on a camera. At this key stage, there is important information about the video that must be captured to enable identification, authentication and use of the video later on.

This information is known as metadata. You can create video metadata in an automated or manual fashion. You can do it in the camera and embed it in the video file, or record it separately in a spreadsheet, text file, email, or handwritten note. You should also collect any documents related to your videos, such as consent forms or production notes.

Archiving also begins when you create new edited videos using editing software. The choices you make about what to output and keep from your editing project can affect a video’s usability later on.

A Scenario: A Video in Context This video was recorded on April 9, 2012 in Homs, Syria, showing that an upsurge of violence occurred in the lead-up to a UN-brokered ceasefire agreement that called for a withdrawal of heavy weapons from built-up areas and a complete cessation of hostilities on April 12, 2012.

Note how the videographers state the date and location in which the video was recorded in the video’s audio. This basic metadata is central to the video’s significance, and allows it to be verified, understood and contextualized in relation to external information, like the date of the ceasefire agreement.


Protect sensitive information

Video metadata can contain private or sensitive information like names or locations that can put you or other people at risk. If you have sensitive data, choose methods of capturing metadata that allow you to either encrypt the data, separate it from other data, or keep it in a safe location. Be aware of what metadata your camera embeds automatically (case in point here).

Get informed consent

You cannot be sure that sensitive information will never be compromised. Consider the risks to yourself, and inform the people you are filming about the risks and get their consent to be filmed. See WITNESS’s Informed Consent tips for more information.

Be safe when recording

See WITNESS’s Safety and Security tips for more information.

What’s Next

What Metadata to Capture
What specific information is most important to capture.

How to Capture Metadata and Documentation
Different methods for capturing important information.

Outputting Edited Videos
Tips for making outputs that are easily usable later on.

Key Concept: Authenticity

The concept of authenticity is based on the creator and the context of creation.

This information must therefore be documented in order for authentication/verification to happen. Learn More

Key Concept: Metadata

Capturing metadata at this stage – before it is lost or forgotten – is critical for the identification, authentication, and use of the video. Learn More

  • The most important metadata to capture when recording a video are: date and time, geographic location, basic description, safety and security requirements, and who shot the video.
  • Other information can be added later to aid understandability and findability of the video.
  • There are many ways to capture information, including using camera settings to automatically embed data, or using a separate pre-formatted template like a spreadsheet.
  • Different ways of capturing information have different safety and security risks and logistical requirements.
  • When creating edited videos, output at full resolution, name your video files consistently, and keep your project files.
The Archiving Workflow

Help WITNESS create more human rights change

Join us by subscribing to our newsletter.