I’ve moved my blogging activity to
Andrew Brown’s Captivate series introduced me to a number of facilities in the program which I hadn’t fully appreciated. However, there are times when still images aren’t good enough for training purposes, such as when you want to illustrate a video editing process. With this in mind I’ve been playing with Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio 5, a screen recorder with facilities for adding narration, callouts, transition effects, etc and exporting in a variety of formats. The academic licence costs about £84.
I decided to create a short video about blogs as recently I’d been giving brief introductions to various Web 2.0 topics to probationers and I’d use some of the materials. Camtasia is very easy to use. Just decide which area of the screen you want to recorded and click a button. When you’ve finished, click to stop. So far so good, but when clicking between sites, there are an inevitable delays so these had to be edited out. Then there were the times when I’d clicked the wrong link or hesitated too long and these had to go. Finally, I wanted to reduce the finished movie to under 5 minutes because I hoped to put together a series of short movies under the banner ‘Give Me Five’. Editing in Camtasia is intuitive so this didn’t take long.
I decided to avoid doing anything fancy to the video but couldn’t resist the pan and zoom feature which lets you zoom to the part of the screen you want to focus on. This can be set to work automatically but I found it easier to create my own.
Now, I thought, the easy bit. All I have to do is to add some narration and it’s finished. Tachsmith has a number of features to make adding a narration easy such as the ability to freeze a frame if your narration is over-running. About 90 minutes later, the 5 minute narration was finished. Not perfect, not even good, but finished. At this point my admiration for AB’s relaxed clarity multiplied! I’d chosen to work without a script – big mistake. You can fluff your way through when giving a live presentation but not when it’s being recorded. When I’d arrived at the end of the 5 minutes with some remaining semblance of coherence, I exported the file to Audacity and cut out as many ‘ers’ and ‘ums’ as I could without reducing the length too much.
So- lessons learned:
Is Camtasia Studio 5 worth getting? If you want to make short training videos, this is a great piece of software. It shares some features with Adobe Captivate but each has its own strengths. Both programs have 30 day trials so you can download and try before you buy.
Here is the result of my initial efforts. It can only get better!
(I’ve just noticed that this video has extra minutes of nothing added on to the end. Sorry – it does last less than 5 minutes – honest!)
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.abernet.org.uk/bigdownloads/vids/blogs/blogsinblog.swf" width="400" height="330" wmode="transparent" /]
If you use TeacherTube (discussed here) to store pupil videos, you can easily link to them on your blog (or website). For WordPress and Edublogs blogs just follow this advice -
Q: How can I embed a video for my Edublogs/WordPress blog?
A: Here are some steps:
1. Copy link provided under “Edublogs/WordPress Embeddable:” within the selected video viewing page.
2. Go to your Edublogs/WordPress “edit” page.
3. Select “Code”.
4. Select “Media”.
5. Paste the url that you copied from TeacherTube and press OK.
It seems to work well.
Yet another animation program. Tales Animator uses a scripting language to animate figures to produce good looking cartoons. The scripting language is fairly easy to use but would be too difficult for younger kids. Another free download with lots of extras available on the site.
Many teachers use the Digital Blue Movie Creator for stop motion animation. Although it is easy and fun to use, it has some limitations, particularly the quality of the output.
MonkeyJam lets you create stop motion animation from any web cam, digital video camera or sets of scanned images and outputs good quality avi files. It is freeware so can be used on as many computers as you want for no cost.
If you don’t need the quality, you can import the avi file into Windows Movie Maker and save as a wmv file which is considerably smaller.
Here’s a simple 2 second example in wmvformat. The avi file takes too long to download if you want to use it on the web but the quality is great for showing on a whiteboard or as part of a PowerPoint presentation. The wmv file is acceptable quality with a very small file size.
wmv file 149 Kb
I’m just catching up on this. Thanks to Neil Winton’s post.
SCRATCH is a free program which lets kids create animations by using a simple programming language. It seems to be quite powerful and, apart from the fun the kids would have, it could be used to create quite adventurous programs. It’s not for casual use – you need to spend some time familiarising yourself with the program but the results can be excellent. Take a look a t the examples on the site to see what can be achieved.
The SCRATCH site has the program download, and lots of support materials and examples.
The company is working on a Windows version and has released a free beta version for testing. It seems to be fairly robust. The only problems I’ve had are printing to a network printer and deleting objects ocassionally but these can be worked around.
Go to http://plasq.com/forum/comiclifewin for a free download.
Google Docs is a simple online word processor (and spreadsheet) with basic functions. With a decent online connection it responds quickly and can be used as a place to store documents. One of its strengths for a teacher is the ability for documents to be edited collaboratively. As an alternative to a wiki, it provides a familiar interface and ease of sharing. For many children it will be easier to use than a wiki. It is easy to look at different revisions and compare ‘before and after’ texts.
There are lots of features in Google Docs – some work better than others – but for simple collaborative working, it provides an easy way for a group to work on a piece of text together.