Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quickie Videos #2

Here is a second example of videos instructors can make. In this case, it is just the talking head of the instructor and for "online lectures" I believe the consensus is that this is a pretty dull use. In the video itself I suggest using this as brief response to student work. Another possiblity is to use the approach as a way to get colleagues and other external experts to provide some quick content for the class, possibly to be followed up by an online discussion.

I want to emphasize again, as I did in the post yesterday, that the quality of production is medium to poor. I did this myself with no post editing whatsoever. I'm not particularly comfortable in front of the camera and I didn't rehearse beforehand. It is my opinion that anything that requires more instructor effort to produce will either not happen at all or will become a big deal, where the instructor will demand to be compensate above the norm for teaching for the extra time involved.

The recording happened in my home office (you can see one of my kids walk up the stairs in the background). I shut the glass doors to keep out some of the house noise. And I tried my best to look at the camera, not the computer screen on which the camera rests. But otherwise I did nothing special at all.

The file size is worth noting. The original AVI file is not quite 16 MB in size for a little more than a two minute presentation. The motion in the original video is excellent. The sound is tinny, but that I believe is the cheap camera, not the software.

I converted that big AVI file to realmedia format using the free RealProducer. The resulting file is a little more than 1 MB, better than a 15:1 compression. The motion is not perfect, by any means, but it seems to me to be good enough for this purpose.
Download the RM file.
If you have a broadband connecion, I recommend timing the download. There is a lag between clicking on the file and playing it, but that really isn't too bad.
Here is the same file streamed.
It comes up a little faster, but with files this size it seems to me you can just put them on an ordinary Web server for download, if your audience has broadband. And if they don't, this use of video seems awfully gratuitous.

I should also note I tried to convert to Quicktime. I've got the early realize of Quicktime 7 Pro for PC. I hope the problem I've had with it is fixed in later releases. Sometimes, it works fine (open the AVI file and then export it to the Quicktime format). But more frequently it doesn't seem to find the video part of the AVI file. I get a message that I'm missing some component, but no sure which it is or how to install it. The virtue of Quicktime over RM, in this case is that iTunes now has a podcast client and one can then use it as the viewer as well as the file manager. That seems pretty nifty to me. But I don't want to give up my Tablet PC just for that funcion.

One last point. Last week I talked about student videos of this sort and using them in their class projects. It seems to me that if the insructor goes that route then the instructor has an oligation to do likewise and, indeed, to create a model the students can imitate. So these instructor made videos may have that benefit as well.


Angela said...

I was impressed with the quality of picture and sound that was generated from such high compression. I found the first file downloaded much quicker than the streamed version, which was unexpected. I agree that there will be a better take up of the use of multimedia by tutors if the procedure is as simple as possible. A number of our tutors would like to work with video but the thought of learning to use the video camera and not knowing how to edit film puts them off. I am going to try out your process in our college with a small number of lecturers and see how they get on.

Lanny Arvan said...

I agree that doing post production work will be off putting for a lot of instructors and that for some use it is not necessary. A key is to manage expectations of the viewers so they are satsified with the video quality they do receive.