Assignment: Create 3 brief, related instructional videos. Include music, a title, a still, narration, and video in each.
When I began this assignment, I wondered why on earth we needed to do three of these videos. Quality video creation takes much, much longer than you would think when you are viewing the complete version. Scripting, story boarding, recording, creating stills, editing, and putting together all of the elements — it all takes time. I took an video and audio creation/editing class 13 years ago so I am familiar with it, though I’ve not done it since and we used “old school” direct-to-VHS camcorders and editing equipment (not computer-based). I still might argue that creating two of these videos may be sufficient but I am convinced that one was not enough. Multiple videos allow you to learn from your attempts and immediately apply what you learn on the next one.
I decided to create my first video from start to finish before working on my second and third videos in any way, aside from choosing topics. I felt that this would help me discover and adapt to any challenges that might arise without those challenges impacting all of my videos. I am glad I made that decision because I discovered bigger issues than I anticipated using the iPhone’s built-in mic (so quiet, even when standing very near), filming in portrait mode on the iPhone, and the importance of pausing to allow sufficient space for edits. I was able to apply these learned lessons into the next two videos. Unfortunately, it also means that my first video stands out a bit from the series.
I elected to create a series of training videos that we will actually use as a part of our training for new clerks at the UAA Learning Resources Center. I wanted to create videos that would have immediate and concrete application rather than creating something just to fulfill the assignment. I chose to use my iPhone for this project because:
- It’s a tool I always have on me and
- I wanted to explore the potential use of commonly owned tools (like smartphones and apps) for students to complete video assignments/projects in my future classes.
I used the iPhone’s default camera/video tool to record the video and take the photographs used. I edited using Cute Cut, an app that’s free to try but $5.99 to export a video, remove the watermark, and remove a short length limit. I looked into a few video editing options but really liked that I could jump right in to the app to try it out with no account and a relatively small learning curve. The system works very much like screencast editing software I’ve worked with (such as Camtasia). You layer elements in different tracks to create the end product. The app allows you to quickly and easily add 6 different track types: video, image, voice, music, text, and free draw (sort of like a mini version of Paint). I used Microsoft Word to create the introduction and a few other text-based slides.
I looked into a number of options for video hosting but ultimately chose to go with the tried-and-true — YouTube. It’s free, it would let me upload directly from my iPhone without issue, and I have other videos hosted there. I signed up for and tried Vimeo, GorillaVid, Veoh, and Flickr as well. All failed to upload directly from the iPhone despite a fast and strong WiFi connection. My biggest complaint with YouTube was it’s serious degradation of my original video quality. However, given the struggles I had with other services combined with my original reasoning for choosing to work with my iPhone, the ubiquitous YouTube ultimately seemed the right choice.
LRC Training Series
LRC Reserve Call Numbers
I liked the videos, they were clear and easy to understand. I was impressed that you did it all on an iPhone. Did you edit it on an iPhone too? My only criticism is volume was uneven, especially when changing from the video to the voiceover. Nice Job!
Your videos were great! I think our students at Rasmuson Library would benefit from these! I really appreciated how smooth your transitions were…it was something I struggled with a bit myself, so it was nice to see them done properly. There were a few instances in which your narration was a little bit soft and I had to turn my volume all the way up and then back down again as the video progressed, but overall I enjoyed your videos!
That’s fantastic, Liz! I’m very glad they are useful to others outside of my workplace. It makes the effort just that much more worthwhile.
I wish I could have done more about the sound. It certainly is the weakest point of the videos. I plan to look into external mics as Don suggested. It should make a big difference!
Being an iPhone jockey, you might find some interesting/useful items here:
They got a few of my $$ in the past. I’m also looking into a lav mic that works out of the headphone jack. It’s the Rode iOS SmartLav mic, $60. I’m planning to get one and will let you know how/if it works…
First of all I must say that I found your videos amazing! Thanks for your feedback on my videos. I can certainly learn a thing or two (or a dozen) from you. You are a natural presence on camera and you speak clearly and articulate yourself well. While I could go on and on about how great your videos are, I will stop here. Don summed it up perfectly. The only thing I noticed, which you mentioned in your brief, was the quiet audio. With that aside, your videos were a pleasure to watch. Thanks!
Thanks Charles! That’s a high compliment as you made great videos yourself. I look forward to seeing your screencast.
I neglected to emphasize how organized you had to be to have such smooth flow to the videos. I’m thinking of how, in the second video, you checked books with the computer while the voice-over flowed smoothly. That kind of clip does NOT happen by accident. Thank you for the effort!
D’Arcy, thank you for these videos. Your camera work is outstanding-no shaking, zooming, panning, focus issues, etc. I would be interested to know if you used a tripod and self-recorded or if someone else held the camera. You mentioned leaving “space” in the videos for editing and you obviously have that under control. The pacing on all three is spot-on. No gaps whatsoever as you went from topic to topic.
You have a natural voice for narration. Crystal clear, easy to follow and very pleasant. I did notice a few variations in volume-probably due to the distance from the mic, not to mention the inadequacy of the iPhone mic, as you mentioned. If this will be an on-going venture, you might consider buying an external mic. The intro and outro music you chose worked extremely well and fit in nicely with the overall “feel” of the pacing and narration.
Although the first video was shot in portrait vs. landscape, I don’t think that detracted at all. There’s some heavy duty pillarboxing (thanks to YouTube expecting 16:9 HD) but, as mentioned, that didn’t detract from the message of the video. I’m curious as to whether you use the up volume button to start and stop or if you use the touch screen. I have a tendency to stab the screen rather than touch it, so have to leave space to edit out the shake. Using the volume button solved the issue.
I will be very interested to hear how the new clerks respond to your masterpieces. They are so well done and so easy to follow (and fun to watch) that I predict they’ll become pretty integral. If your screencasts come out anything like these videos, you’ll have a very powerful arsenal. THANKS for a job really well done.
Do you miss the VHS days?
Most of the video was recorded by my lovely employee, Kate. I selected where I wanted her to stand for the shot to be well-framed and in focus, then had her record. I was impressed with her ability to hold the phone so still! I seem to remember her using the on-screen record button. For a few shots, Kate wasn’t around. My tripod doesn’t have any means of holding an iPhone (without some serious rigging), so I actually propped the phone up on bookshelves using bookends. I’d hit record then run to my spot to start talking.
Volume is my biggest complaint in my videos. For the narration overlay, I had excellent volume and control over it in editing. But the videos of me talking are so quiet. One criticism of Cute Cut is that it will not amplify audio, only reduce it. Whatever sound level your record at, that is the loudest your audio can be in the final product. I quieted my voice-overs quite a bit for the difference to be less shocking, but did not want to quiet it so much that the entire video was difficult to hear. Doing a voice-over of the scenes with me talking would have been an obvious and cheesy dub so I didn’t even bother. And I felt the scenes of me talking were a great addition to the videos that would not have been as effective if the visual was something like a slide. Like you mentioned, I now see that an external mic is a must-have for consistent audio.
The pillar-boxing in the first video was precisely why I switched to landscape. I didn’t know how bad it would be! But we do this assignment so we can learn how to do things better.
No, I don’t miss VHS! The camera was bulky, the video quality was poor, no one ever saw what I made because I didn’t have the option of uploading it for everyone to view online, and the price of editing equipment prevented making professional quality videos on your own. It’s amazing and wonderful that we can now make a high quality videos using the smartphone that most of us already have and no more than a few bucks for an editing app, then share it almost instantly with anyone in the world (who has internet access and a web-enabled device). I love digital!