This post is part of our Human Rights Day Series: Resources for #Video4Change Activists. More resources can be found on our website.

In the past year, we have witnessed an unprecedented amount of media created by activists, citizen journalists, oral historians, and others who are documenting contemporary protest movements worldwide. As the volume of material continues to grow, questions about how to find, identify, verify, organize, and maintain this media for use as evidence and as historical documentation have become more pressing than ever.

A New York-based collective known as the Activist Archivists, in collaboration with WITNESS, put together this list of tips for #OccupyWallStreet activists to create and share video in ways that support its discoverability, use, and long-term preservation.  Many of these pointers are also included in our Top 10 Tips for Filming #Occupy Protests, Arrests, and Police Conduct, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them!

 Tips for Making Your Videos Discoverable and Usable in the Long Term

 1. Collect details while filming. Turn on date, time, and location capturing features on your camera, or film a piece of paper with this information written on it. Record noteworthy pieces of information like street signs, clocks, badge numbers, or state them verbally on camera. Record names and consents on camera or in a separate document, if safe to do so.

2. Keep your original raw footage, unaltered. If your video might have legal evidentiary value, keep your original raw footage, even after it has been uploaded. Organize your offloaded material (e.g. by date and/or creator), but do not delete or alter the original filenames or directory structure. Make a backup on a separate medium. Keep this material secure.

screenshot showing contextualization for a WITNESS partner video on YouTube
screenshot showing contextualization for a WITNESS partner video on YouTube

3. Make your video discoverable. If safe to do so, upload copies of your video or share as a torrent. The key is to make your video findable by others. Make your titles descriptive (e.g. name of event, date, location). Tag your video with OWS, OccupyWallStreet, and other keywords — search for videos like yours to see what tags others are already using.

 4. Contextualize it. Your uploaded video is more useful if people know what it’s about. Use description fields to describe what happened before, during and after the event depicted. Include names, dates, and specific locations. Add a URL for a relevant website leading to further information.

5. Make it verifiable. Enhance the verifiability of your video. Tag and describe your video (points 3 & 4 above) so that it can be easily compared with other documentation of the same event. Consider upload sites that allow you to upload/share untranscoded files (e.g. torrents, Internet Archive), or that allow you to be contacted (e.g.Vimeo).

6. Allow others to collect and archive. Share your uploaded videos using a Creative Commons license. Archives around the world are scraping videos from upload sites for safekeeping, but usually only ones they can legally collect. Consider depositing your original raw footage with a trustworthy archive. If your video has evidentiary value, a trusted archive can help maintain a reliable chain of custody.

7. Or archive it yourself. There are many benefits to working with an established archive, but if you want to do it yourself: 1) Save the original footage or the highest quality output, 2) Document the footage/videos with descriptive information, 3) Organize your videos by date or source, 4) Make back up copies on quality hard drives, stored in separate locations, 5) Check your saved files at least once a year. See the Library of Congress’s Personal Archiving site for more information.


Thoughts or ideas? Please submit them below!


2 thoughts on “7 Tips to Ensure Your Video Is Usable in the Long Term

  1. The seven tips to ensure video usable on a long term are interesting to review which most professional videographers are aware. Yet there is no guarantees in anybody using your footage as their own – unless you safeguard it … and it is important to maintain your ownership with copyrights, especially if you are producing authentic videos which appeal to subjects like Human Rights and the rights of all those “voiceless” women, young girls, children and some men who need to “voice” their stories worldwide ..

    We have hundreds of hours of videotapes on a variety of authentic experiences, especialy on gender empowerment being prepared by our GCDF’s VOICES OF WOMEN TELEVISION (VOW-TV) team for our exclusive website VOICES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE at and screened on Vimeo and youtube as samples womenvoicsworldwide Channel VOICES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE. These are all the voices that mainstream and international media ignores … stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary projects around the world !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *