Behind the scenes of ‘Studying Society at Foundation Centre’

We’ve been asked to prepare a 5 minute presentation about the courses we teach for a meeting to look for synergies and co-ordinate our content across the courses we provide. I thought that I’d make a 5 minute video about one of the courses I teach (an introductory sociology course) instead, and here I will document how I did it. This is not because I think I’m an expert, I’d welcome constructive feedback! But this post might be a useful starting point for somebody who is thinking of doing something similar.

My first stop was to get a web cam, and once I had my boss on board (ie I wasn’t paying) I decided to go for a pretty decent one with HD capabilities (Logitech C910HD) which was 65 quid. You can get webcams for around a tenner, but with a test run I’m very happy with the video quality and quite happy with the sound (although I think I should probably have considered getting a half decent mike).

My next step was to install any software that I might need. Our office computers at Durham are managed desktops, but we’ve got Windows Movie Maker installed and given that I’m not anticipating anything too avant garde I’m hoping that will be up to the task. I’ve used Adobe Premier Pro in a previous job so hopefully the basics will be similar.

I needed to temporarily get admin rights on my desktop to install the webcam and whilst I had it I quite cheekily installed camstudio a free screen recording program which I’ve used in the past. From the start I didn’t want my video to be a 5 minute talking head, and I think I’ll be able to use this software to make some short segments about the VLE and maybe my YouTube stuff.

I also had the idea ( partly because of the recent death of its inventor) of using my monitor as an autocue to appear more polished and sure enough somebody has written a free online program for that called cueprompter. [ a tip I’ve discovered is to include a couple of blank lines at the top of your script to give yourself time between clicking ‘play’ and getting composed for the filming, also include line breaks as pauses for breath]

My next step was to do a rough storyboard. I’m no artist, but I wanted to break up the 5 minutes into manageable chunks and note some ideas I’d had for mixing up the imagery to keep the video interesting.

Well there’s no more putting it off, I’ve had a shave and put a clean/relatively new top on so now I’m going to start writing a script and filming! I’ll post up any problems or thoughts!

Well as a guide I can tell you that it’s taken me about 3 hours to film roughly 5 minutes of footage! This does include writing the script and obviously numerous outtakes and retakes. I did have some little problems with the autocue, and I was saving the video to my desktop, but it filled up the space pretty quickly to so I had to move the files to my harddrive, I’m not sure if this will get quicker as and when (and if!) I do anything like this again. I was expecting it to take a while, but I’ve now got some editing to do!

I’ve imported all the video into moviemaker and after trimming the ends of each clip off I’ve got just over 5 minutes of material, which is handy! I’ve had a little play with the software now and it seems OK if a little basic. The titles are so rubbish I’ve decided to look for ‘found’ titles, so hopefully i can find the words that i want in completely unrelated pictures off the internet!

Talking of pictures off the internet, if you’ve watched the video you will notice that I’ve used quite a lot of these to try and spice up what would otherwise be quite a boring headshot. I did give some thought about licensing and whether to only use CC or other copyleft material. In the end, and partly because of the time pressure, I went with a standard google image search. My vague justification for this is that my video is not for profit and that my use is fair use. If any problems arise from this I will mention it! I have kept the original MS movie maker project file, so if i was asked to make any changes it would be relatively straightforward.

After 5 hours i’ve got a rough draft, probably about an hour away from finishing, but I’ll have to do that another time (and I won’t be posting it up on youtube until then). If I was to do this again I’m confident that it would be quite a lot quicker, this time is including learning new software (although MS movie maker is pretty straightforward to be fair). Also this time includes writing a 700 word blog post about the whole process.

OK I’ve finished and uploaded the final product. I think I will be tweaking a little in the next few days. I have a class coming up so I may as well play it at the start for some live audience research. I think I will have a bit more of a play with the annotations tool, especially if I can figure out a way of making them live links.

I’d really appreciate any comments or help, so feel free to leave a comment or drop me a message.


About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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One Response to Behind the scenes of ‘Studying Society at Foundation Centre’

  1. Pingback: 6 months in, our facebook page, and integration, integration, integration? | Digitalscholarship Blog

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