Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The pitfalls and how to's of making a screen capture mockumentary

After my previous post from Sunday night and some email with Robert Baird about what I went through to make the mockumentary, I asked myself whether the production part could be done easier. It turns out the answer to this is unambiguous - yes. For the previous movie, I did at home with older versions of software. In the office just now, I used PowerPoint 2007 and the most recent version of Camtasia.

It turns out that PowerPoint has a particular slide layout called images with captions. That sizes the images appropriately and you can put the captions in right there - very easy. In what I produced below, I used the titles only, not the captions themselves, but the effect is to produce captions. The new Camtasia has a timer in the recorder. This makes it very easy to manage the transitions. In this case, I had 10 slides. The audio of the Strauss piece was about 1 minute and 20 seconds, so I came up with 8 seconds per slide. (Your ability to do arithmetic gets challenged when you do the recordings.)

So, production-wise, this is very easy. Camtasia makes output for a blog format - 400 x 300 .swf file with a built in player. Then that just gets popped into the blog.

But unlike the previous video, where there was some creativity in the construction, this was pretty straightforward and dull. There is very little synthesis or pulling things together. It is just a recollection of the film 2001. So if students are to make these sort of things as part of their work, the emphasis needs to be on the creativity in the story, not on the production. The point of this post is, the technology is easy enough that they can do precisely that.

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