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City of Boston video guidelines

We have tips and templates to help you shoot great video for the City.

We believe in the power of video as a great communication tool. These guidelines will help us stay consistent with our content and storytelling.

Still have questions? Contact:
Digital Team
1 City Hall Square, Room 703
Boston MA  02201
United States

Steps for great videos

Find YOUR AUDIENCE AND PURPOSE

Who is your target audience for this video? Why are you creating it? These are things to keep in mind before you get started. Depending on who you’re creating the video for, you might give more or fewer details.

FIND YOUR IDEAL LENGTH AND PLATFORM

Once you identify your audience and purpose, you can determine your length and platform. For example:

  • For short-form social media videos, keep them between 15 and 60 seconds.
  • A “How-to” video should be between 30 seconds and a minute.
  • Digital ads should be between 15 to 30 seconds.
  • For an ad on broadcast television (for example, CityTV), keep them under two minutes.
  • You should film meetings and press conferences from start to finish.
  • For storytelling pieces, you have a little more flexibility, but under five minutes is best.
REMEMBER TO STAY ON BRAND

When it comes to colors, typography, and writing style, follow the City’s official brand guidelines. You can even download our branded animated bumpers.

The importance of residents and the public knowing that a piece of content is coming from the City of Boston can’t be overstated. Right from the start, a person should know that what they’re watching is a City of Boston video.

REMEMBER TO SHARE YOUR CONTENT

Setting up a solid communications outreach plan is an important last step. If you’ve created a one-off video, maybe this just involves a social media push leveraging the City’s main social media handles. If you plan to create a series of videos, consider creating your own editorial calendar to help guide you as you roll these videos out.

If you need help around the logistics involved with a broadcast TV ad — or a digital billboard campaign — contact us at digital@boston.gov. We can help guide you through the process and offer our thoughts on the best way to move forward.

Pre-production tips

Pre-production is an important first step for any project. You need to scout your location, lighting and audio, and the people taking part in the video.

You should be prepared to think outside of the box for issues that arise during production. Try to make arrangements ahead of time to prevent any surprises.

Audio is just as important as video in any production. If a viewer cannot hear what is being said clearly, that diminishes the power of the video. Unless it’s an emergency or a last-minute request, you should never use the camera microphone. Make sure to have hard-wired or wireless mics for any production.

Lighting is also a key part of any production. If the subject is not lit properly, the video looks very unprofessional.

production timeline

Contact: Digital Team

If you’re interested in starting a project with the Creative Team, please take a look at the timeline below to give you an idea of what to expect. When work is translated it will add anywhere between 24hrs and a full week to the project length.

  1. Project contact: You reach out to the Creative Team and give them a high-level understanding of the project. We ask the same questions of each client, you can find them here. 
  2. Kick-off, the Creative Team will ask the client to provide answers to the question we sent in step one. In this review, we will point out roadblocks and work with the client to find solutions. When all final copy and items are delivered to the Creative Team we move to step three.
  3. Creative work starts. When ready the Creative Team will submit the first draft for the client to review.
  4. The client provides a review and critique. This is the last opportunity for the client to change the text/script/story. 
  5. Work is finalized and approved, Items are then sent out for translation. All translations MUST be double-checked. You can do that with Professional LCA Vendors or with the LCA Volunteer Pool. We will give our LCA volunteers about a week to verify that the translations are correct, but if after a week they are still not verified we will reach out to a second vendor to have them verified. If a second vendor is necessary, that will be taken from your department’s LCA budget. 
  6. When Translations are finalized video/design is sent to the printer/PIO/press/content team for posting.

Things to keep in mind

THE POWER OF SOUND

Music has a huge impact on the mood of your video. Feel free to get creative and choose a song that contributes to the content. Make sure that the music you’re using is royalty-free: here’s a start-up library of song options. If you try to use a song that has a copyright, you’ll get flagged by Facebook and potentially YouTube, so it’s not worth the risk.

WHO AND WHAT CAN I FILM?

When dealing with schools, be sure to get a release form from the teachers, or check to see if they have already signed them in the school’s office. Adults can be asked for consent on or off camera. When in doubt, use this written form.

CAPTIONS, SUBTITLES, AND TRANSLATIONS

You should add these type of enhancements when they’re asked for. They can help you appeal to a wider audience. YouTube, Facebook, and many other sites offer free captioning or subtitling. This allows you to add English subtitles to a video without any additional cost.

IS THIS YOUR FIRST VIDEO?

We encourage everyone to be their own content creator. If this is your first time, reference these tips on “How to Produce a Video”(video basics). It’s a simple outline for how to produce a video from start to finish.

Still have questions?

Feel free to reach out to the Digital Team for any questions about the video brand guidelines.

Contact the Digital Team