Sunday, June 15, 2014

From the t.i.c.l. Conference 2014

  Here is the PowerPoint presentation that I used at the 2014 t.i.c.l. Conference at Buena Vista University.  The previous post has links for both training videos mentioned in the PowerPoint.


Any Video Converter training

Video Slimmer for the iPad

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make it so!

  It seemed so simple during the planning sessions.  Teachers would shoot video in their classrooms, upload the video clips to the web and then our PLAEA consultants would review the video clips.  As long as the teachers have access to a smart phone or an iPad, it should be easy as pie.  Shoot, upload and view.

  That was our plan.  Now, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard used to say, "Make it so!"

  Then we started getting phone calls and emails from the teachers who were attempting this feat.  The videos they shot were taking forever to upload, sometimes several hours.  Sometimes, the website would "time out" and the entire process would come to a screeching halt.  What is the problem here?

  After some investigation, we discovered that the file sizes of those video clips were just too darned big.  For example, an iPad shoots video in high definition, so even a 20 minute video clip is nearly 3 gig in size.  That's right, 3 gigabytes for 20 minutes.  How can you shoot a 50 minute classroom presentation and then upload it to your Dropbox account that has a maximum capacity of 2 gig?

 My suggestion was to use video conversion software to convert the video clips to a more compressed format.  Using video conversion software also lets the user downsize the resolution from HD to SD.  Changing the format and downsizing the resolution will shrink the size of the video file, sometimes dramatically. That 3 gig video clip became a 725 meg clip after conversion and downsizing.  That's small enough to easily fit in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.

 Different cameras and computers require different software to achieve this file compression.  So I'm producing videos to address that.

  What if you are using a Flip camera and transferring that video to your Windows 7 computer?  I suggested our team use Any Video Converter.  That's freeware that is available from CNET.  Then I recommended the converted clip be uploaded to a Google Drive account.

 Here is the video I created to explain the process. 

 If you are using an iPad, then it's even easier because it can all be done with your iPad.  Two apps, GDrive and Video Slimmer, allow you to compress your video clip and then upload it to your Google Drive.

 Again, I produced a video to demonstrate the process.

  That's not all of the camera and computer combinations out there.  But these two procedures and the accompanying instructional videos should help our classroom videographers to successfully shoot and upload their projects.  As additional instructors contact us, I'll search for solutions that apply to their specific hardware and computer operating systems.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Sound Advice

Combo headphone-mic headset

  Video conferencing is amazing.  The idea that we can turn a meeting room into a makeshift television studio and broadcast to the world is astounding, even to a veteran media person like me.  In order to have a successful broadcast, we need to use the right tool for the job. 

  When we’re dealing with video conferencing, we are broadcasting two things: picture and sound.  And while everyone understands that the video camera needs to show what the viewer wants to see, it can be a challenge to have the microphone pick up what everyone wants to hear.  

  Audio rarely receives the attention it deserves, even though so much of the information conveyed during a video conference is actually heard rather than seen.

So, what tools do we use to gather sound?  The microphone that is built in to your laptop does a pretty good job if you are the only person on your end of the conference.  However, using the built in mic and speaker can often set up a feedback or echo effect, where your mic hears and rebroadcasts the output of your speaker.  You will avoid that problem by using a combo headphone-mic headset like the one pictured. 
Blue Snowball mic

  If you have a group of people gathered around a table, you need a different kind of microphone to hear everyone clearly.  The Blue Snowball microphone can be switched from a cardioid pattern to an omnidirectional pattern, which means it can be used by a single person or set in the middle of a table to pick up an entire group of people.  It connects via a USB cable to your computer and is compatible with Skype and other conferencing software.

  Another style of microphone that is well suited to gathering sound at a meeting is the PZM or boundary microphone.  It sits flat on the table and picks up reflected sound.  This is the style of mic used with a Polycom and AVer video conferencing system.  Some models, such as the MXL-404 (pictured) also connect to your computer via USB. 
MXL-404 PZM Mic

  My father always told me to use the right tool for the job.  So use the right microphone for your next video conference. Your audience will appreciate being able to hear you better, and that’s sound advice.