Video Standards

Videos are an important medium for telling the UCSF story. Like all communications and materials, videos produced by any individual or group at UCSF should be of the highest quality to properly represent the organization and its identity.

video still of mother and daughter

Best Practices

1. Make a Creative Brief and Storyboard

Always start with a UCSF Video Creative Brief template

Once completed, spend some time storyboarding, or mapping out the ideal visuals for each scene. 

2. Get Interview Transcripts

Make the video editing process more efficient by making full transcripts of the video interviews, so you can see the full context. Highlight themes or specific sentences in the interview transcripts that you think will be successful in the video. 

3. Do Quality Testing

Always check video quality before distributing it online to the public. Try showing it to someone who wasn’t involved in the video production who can offer a fresh perspective. 

Is the text on the screen readable? Are the interviewees easy to hear? Does it look good when uploaded to YouTube? Does it look good on a mobile device? 

Once a video is posted on YouTube, the number of views, user ratings, user comments and other community data cannot be transferred to a revised version.

4. Ensure Copyright

Videos must be free of any copyrighted material unless legal permission is granted and documented. 

Videos must have “right to use” (RTU). Make sure UCSF holds all rights to the video, including talent, music and pictures. 

Keep in mind that some material being used in an educational setting may not be copyright-free in a marketing setting. (See "Permissions" in the Video Guidelines PDF.) 

Video still of Wendell Lim
All videos should:
  • Be visually interesting
  • Have clear, understandable audio
  • Tell a complete and compelling story as concisely as possible (in general, storytelling web videos should be no longer than 3 minutes)
  • Follow the university brand standards and visual identity guidelines
  • Close with the appropriate UCSF logos
  • Be consistent in style, tone and message
  • Meet ADA digital accessibility standards

Technical Standards 

video still of research in lab

Aspect Ratio 

Recommended aspect ratio = 16:9

Video Format

Preferred file types to upload to YouTube: Quicktime (.mov) and MPEG (.mp4)


High Definition (HD) video at either 1920x1080 or 1280x720

Visual Style

video still of pipets

UCSF videos should:
  • Capture genuine expressions to convey authenticity, intimacy and relatability
  • Minimize “talking head” shots; instead, use engaging B-roll that compliments the content
  • Use natural light and shallow depth of field to keep the focus on the subject and prevent backgrounds from being distracting

Digital Accessibility

Video still of Derek Harmon, showing closed captioning

As a public institution, UCSF is legally required to make all our digital resources accessible.

Closed captioning, also known as subtitling, is an on-screen/ visual transcription of the audio portion of the video. Many video platforms, such as YouTube, offer automatic captioning, but this can often have errors, especially when the audio quality is low. It’s important to check and edit automatic captioning, or have your video transcribed by a professional service.

Readability is important. To ensure people can easily read words you put on the screen, keep these factors in mind:

  • Sizing – Many people consume video on mobile devices, so always test your videos on a smartphone.
  • Contrast – Make sure there’s proper contrast between the text and its background. Use our Interactive Color Palette, and don’t overlay text on busy backgrounds.

Lower Thirds

Video still of Tess Veuthey, showing a lower third

A lower third is a graphic overlay that is used to introduce and identify a subject featured in a video. It includes the individual’s name and title in a title-safe area of the screen.​ 

For full specifications on placement and design, refer to the Video Guidelines PDF

Closing Slides

For guidance on end credits and the final frame options, refer to the Video Guidelines PDF

Closing slide

closing slide with logo box


Anyone featured in a UCSF video, including interviewees and other individuals clearly visible, must complete a written consent form permitting the University to use their image and/or voice in recordings.

For full guidance on consents, copyright information, fair use and music licensing, refer to the Video Guidelines PDF