VOC Technical support

This section will provide more technical and film-making background information for your vidumath projects. It is all about getting you started. There are many tutorials on YouTube which cover all the different aspects of video editing with various software but also creative film making if you want to take this further.

Video production has become easier over the years – but at the same time has become easier to get carried away with the technology and its features. Also students have become quite savvy with video production. It is important for you to understand that you, as the teacher, don’t need to be the video production expert. Your role is to be in charge of the pedagogical concept of the project.

Using the technology you have

We have already mentioned that the production quality is not the key parameter of a vidumath project. It is a good idea especially for first projects to keep the production simple and use the technology which is immediately available. If the students are interested, they can develop the quality of their production output with further projects. vidumath is not about becoming a professional videographer. It is more important to understand and learn how to create and reflect, on the video productions.

Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more integrated multi-tools with good cameras, post-production software (including stop-motion apps) and the ability to upload videos straight away. This speeds up the production process. But the traditional approach of a separate photo or video camera with a computer for post-production still works well – offering more possibilities but also being more time-consuming.

There is a range of cameras which can be used for filming:

  • Smartphone camera
  • Tablet camera
  • Web camera of the computer
  • Compact photo camera with video function
  • Digital SLR with video function (photo camera where you can change the lens)
  • Video camera (classic style camera)

The cameras of smartphones and tablets are generally of good quality but depend of course on the specific model. All recent models from the mid-price range up are good enough for video projects. Your school might have a policy for the use of smartphones in the classroom; find out if you are allowed to use them. Web cameras are built into notebooks or added to a desktop computer. They provide normally of a lower image quality and are not very flexible within different locations.

Current photo cameras offer a good quality, video function. The video quality can normally be adjusted: it is best to go for the highest quality. Digital SLR cameras are good for video projects where you would like to have a pristine image quality such as the ideas proposed for creative explorations. Traditional video cameras are easy to use, have good video quality and are easy to handle.

All cameras have the possibility to record sound (audio). Most of the time the quality is not too good but it is usable for vidumath projects. If sound is very important for your project you should either explore a separate microphone which can be connected to some cameras or record sound separately during the recording or in post-production stage.

Last but not least: Make sure that the battery or batteries are charged, that the memory card is inserted and that camera straps are used for protection for more expensive cameras.

In the vidumath project we suggest three methods to film your video.

Filming creatively

The camera is more than just a technical tool to record whatever is in front of it. It can be used in different ways – creating different messages. Filming is a very creative process of using different camera position, camera framings and camera movements. Encourage your students to explore these and become more aware of the power of the moving image.

Different camera positions create different images. It is a common practise to just put a camera in front of your eyes wherever you stand. But what happens when you place your camera on the floor or stand on a table to look down on what you want to record? What happens when you record a drama sequence from different angles – from both sides and also from behind?

The camera framing determines how much you choose to show and not show. This might be less of an issue if you work on stop motion where the framing is tightly fixed at the stage where you work on your animation. Finding good framing is not about showing as much as possible. It is about concentrating on what is most important in each shot. If you think of Hollywood movies then you might be aware of the many close-up shots they use – just a face or hand or an object. Also explore how a foreground or background can support your message.

Camera movements add another creative dimension. This includes pans (going from left to right or vice versa), tilts (going up or down) but also a zoom where you change the lens and your object gets closer or further away. As with the framing: It is tiresome to watch endless zooming in and out. Concentrate on what is most important. Camera movements are there to support your message, not to distract from the message. Also be aware that camera shaking can become hard work for the viewer. Better cameras have an image stabiliser which minimises this. The use of a tripod is generally useful especially for stop-motion productions. If you want to use smartphones or tablets you will need to build something as mentioned before or look for an adaptor which can be put on a tripod.

Post-production / Editing

Post-production is the second half of the creative process in a video project. It is there where the final message is decided upon – where images are selected, the order of video clips is changed and also titles and music is added. Post production needs editing software. Free and easy options include Movie Maker for Windows and iMovie for macOS. OpenShot and the forthcoming open software VideoLAN Movie Creator are both free and available for Windows, macOS as well as Linux. All of these entry solutions are adequate for vidumath projects. There is a range of free or very cheap apps available to be used with smartphones and tablets.

Every post-production has three steps:

  • Importing
  • Editing
  • Exporting

Importing

Importing means that all material is collected and put into the video software. If a camera is used then all photos and videos are copied to the computer. You can either connect the camera through a USB cable or take the memory card out of the camera and insert it into the memory card slot of your computer (or an attached card reader). Then copy all video and photo files and add sound files (music or sound effects) into the same project folder. Once all material is collected use the “import” command and insert all files into the collection of your editing software. If post  production is done on a smartphone or tablet you will only need to find the location of your videos and photos and insert them into the editing app.

Editing
Now the actual post production or video editing can start. Go back to your storyboard and lay out the video clips and photos in the same order as they were planned there. Look through your first video draft and decide if there are any changes you would like to make. Also where you would like to “trim” the videos – remove seconds at the beginning or end, because the action was not ready or the content is not interesting enough.
Once the first edit looks good, titles and music can be added. Titles can be put on as a full screen but they can also be put on top of existing video footage. Subtitles can be added if more content needs to be added or if they are there to support another language. Also credits can be put at the end of the video (be aware of privacy issues such as not including the full names for children). Music is a powerful addition to create interest and change the mood. Again caution is needed with what music is used: Commercial and copyright protected music cannot be used. Music with a free license can, for example, be found on http://freemusicarchive.org. It is required to include the name of the composer and musician in the video credits.

Export
Once all is done and all students from the team are happy then the video can be exported. This means that a new file is created which then can be shared. This is sometimes confused with saving the project file. The project file is not a video but a description for the editing software which records the information of what has been included in the timeline. All software offers presets which make this process very easy (we normally use mp4 files). Better-quality videos are larger in file size. Depending to the speed of the computer and the length of the video,  exporting can take a few minutes. Only share the video if copyright and privacy have been cleared.

vidumath wiki

If you wish to add your video to the project wiki you will find full instructions here,

Return to Introduction