3 MORE Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms

3 more green screen tips(1)

Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled 3 Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms. It proved to be a popular post, so I thought it was time to do a follow up with three MORE top tips that you can use in your classroom when embarking on multimedia green screen projects. So, take a look at the ideas below, and feel free to submit your top tips in the comments below.

1. Add Logos to Images and Videos

Green Screen by DoInk lets you add up to three layers of media to each project. Think of these like the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. Often, we just use two of these layers – one for the live camera and the other for the background – but that third layer can be very useful for branding, a watermark, or even your school logo. Simply add it to your foreground layer, resize it, and position it to where you would like it to appear on the screen.

This is ideal for adding logos at a conference you are running, or simply to add a channel number icon to your news broadcast. Any image will work here but transparent PNGs (images with no background layer) will add an additional air of authenticity. Create your own and export them to the camera roll with Paper53 or search for Vector images at Pixabay.com.

logo watermark

2. Use a Tripod

This is a very quick and easy way to make your videos look more professional. Shaky camera work, especially on a green screen video, can be quite disorientating for the viewer so the steadier the better. Thankfully, this is not as expensive as you might think. The Padcaster is a great setup, but it’s not within everyone’s budget. However, the Makiyama Movie Mount is a decent option. Amazon is full of affordable iPad holders that cost even less and they will easily mount to any standard camera tripod. Many will even work without removing the case you have your iPad housed in so be sure to look for those too if you need that flexibility.

tripod-

3. Get More Green Cloths

If you only have one green screen, you’re missing out on some creative opportunities. Ever wanted to fly like Superman or float like an astronaut? Cover a table, or some sturdy boxes, with an extra green cloth and you can take to the skies with the magic of green screen. When Halloween comes around you can use that extra green screen cloth to have fun with a disembodied head simply by wrapping the cloth around you like a cloak! For a less morbid example, you could try adding your head to Mount Rushmore! You could even try a mixed media example like this one on human anatomy.

fly green screen

BONUS TIP: Experiment With The Masking Tools

If you ever find that your green screen is not quite big enough, or there is a stubborn area of your background that you just can’t fix, then the masking tools are for you. They let you mask out areas of your scene that you don’t want to show on your final product. Simply tap the mask icon to get started and use any of the the eraser or shape tools to define an area that you want to mask. Anything that is underneath that layer will be transparent.

In the example where your green screen is too small, select the live camera view, then use the masking tools to “paint” the area outside of your green screen. This creates a mask that will now show your chosen background media instead of the classroom walls!

Of course, the masking tools can be used creatively too. If you don’t have another green cloth on hand, the masking tool could be use in place of that. Or, as you can see below, it could even be used to show two videos side by side! 🙂

Side by Side

Record, Edit & Share Student Podcasts on Windows

student podcasts windows

In a recent post, I looked at some of the best ways to record a podcast on an iPad. This time, I am going to switch platforms and look at the options you have for recording podcasts on a Windows computer. So, whether you have desktops, laptops or Surface tablets, this is the guide for you. It includes free and low cost options for teachers (or anyone else) who wants to record, edit and share podcasts from a Windows device.

Audio Recording Options for PC Users

If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8 you can take advantage of a free, built-in app called Sound Recorder. This comes pre-installed with these versions of Windows and is perfectly capable of recording good, clear audio. Windows 10 users have a very similar app called Voice Recorder that works in much the same way. You can also use free software like Audacity to record your podcasts, but more on that in a minute. The last thing you need to know for recording audio podcasts on a Windows PC is how to make sure external microphones are set as the default device. Why? Plugging in a USB microphone won’t always mean that device is selected when you want to record audio, so use this handy guide to switch input devices in the Control Panel.

Windows 10 Voice Recorder

Edit Podcast Audio for Free on Windows Computers

Editing is optional, depending on your needs, but sometimes it is nice to be able to add some royalty-free music to the beginning and/or end of your podcast, or to edit out some mistakes. Although you can do some very basic trims on the Sound Recorder or Voice Recorder apps, more serious edits are best left to a dedicated audio editor. Audacity is a free, open source recording and editing program that will do just that. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux computers and can be downloaded here.

If you have never used it before, the interface will take a little getting used to, but it is easy to learn from the myriad of YouTube tutorials that are dedicated to editing audio in Audacity.  With Audacity you can trim, split and combine multiple audio tracks, as well as remove background noise, adjust volume levels, and more. It really isn’t as hard to use as it might look and it’s okay if you don’t need or use half of the features it offers.

If your school happens to have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, then Adobe Audition would be well worth a look for editing podcasts. It is not free, but if you already have the subscription, it won’t cost you anything to try it out. This is professional level software that is used by audio engineers in radio, film and television broadcasts, but like Audacity, it is easy to learn some basics on YouTube. Middle and High School students could pick this up pretty quickly and Mike Russell has a great playlist to get you started.

Audacity-Windows

Uploading & Sharing Student Podcasts Online

There are a number of online audio hosting sites that you can use to share your student podcasts. However, the free accounts, as you might expect, often come with some restrictions. SoundCloud, for instance, gives you 3 hours of audio uploads for free. AudioBoom will let you upload as many files as you like, as long as none of them exceed 10 minutes in length.

A less conventional option might be to use tunestotube.com. This website lets you upload an MP3 file, attach an image, and then send the whole thing to YouTube as a video. It essentially creates a one picture slideshow with your podcast audio as the music track, but because it is on YouTube it is highly discoverable and easy to share.

Are You Podcasting With Windows Devices?

Do your students record and edit podcasts on Windows computers? If so, what do you use as part of your podcasting workflow? Feel free to leave a note in the comments below. You can also check out, and contribute to, my growing list of podcasts for K-12 students to listen to and learn from by following this link. Also, be sure to listen to the EdTech Take Out podcast that I co-host with Mindy Cairney by subscribing in iTunes or in a podcast player app of your choice.

How to Add a YouTube Video to Word, PowerPoint & OneNote on Windows

add youtube videos office

Inserting multimedia elements to your documents make them instantly more engaging and can save you jumping from one app to another. So, the next time you want to spice up a study guide or have your students submit a multimedia document with text, images, video and more, take a look at this handy guide. Here is what you need to know.

Add a YouTube Video to Word, PowerPoint & OneNote

Step 1: Open the app of your choice (Word, PowerPoint or OneNote), then place the cursor where you would like the YouTube video to go.

Step 2: Click (or tap) Insert and choose Online Video from the toolbar.

insert video

Step 3: Click (or tap) in the box that says Search YouTube and paste the URL to your video, or insert some keywords to search for the video from inside of Office, and hit Enter. (While a keyword search will work, a YouTube URL is more likely to give you direct access to the video you want).

Step 4: Click (or tap) the thumbnail of the video you want, and then hit Insert to add the video to your Office document. The video will appear where you placed your cursor, but and can be resized or moved to a different place in your document.

youtube search results

Advanced Tips & Tricks for Embedding YouTube Videos

Sometimes it is useful to embed the YouTube video with an embed code, instead of pasting a URL or searching with keywords. Here’s why you might want to do that instead.

  • Not all videos will appear in a keyword search, and sometimes the URL doesn’t work either. For scenarios like this, you can always grab the Embed code from the YouTube video and go to Insert > Online Video and paste the code next to the option that says From a Video Embed Code.
  • Is your video too long? Trim your video to the part you really need with TubeChop.com and add the embed code into your Word, PowerPoint or OneNote. You can also modify the YouTube embed code to choose your own start and finish times for the video.
  • If you want to hide the grid of “related” videos that YouTube offers up at the end of a video, be sure to click Show More underneath the YouTube embed code BEFORE you copy it. This opens a drop-down menu that lets you uncheck a box that says Show suggested videos when the video ends. Once you have that box deselected, copy and paste your embed code and the related videos will vanish from the end of the video.
  • Can’t find the video you want on YouTube? Embed codes from Vimeo and other popular video sharing sites are supported in Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Troubleshooting Videos That Don’t Appear

Every so often you will find that a link to a YouTube video reveals no search results, and the video has no embed code on YouTube. Unfortunately, this means you will likely not be able to add this video to your Office document, because the video creator has chosen to remove the ability to embed their video on other sites. This is an option for all YouTube users and can be found among the upload settings when uploading a new video to YouTube.

You may also find that you don’t have the option to add YouTube videos in your version of Office. To add YouTube videos to PowerPoint you need Office 2013 or later for Windows. To add YouTube Videos to Word or OneNote you need Office 2016 or later for Windows. If you don’t have access to one of these versions of Office, you can always use the free Office Online which can be found at office.com.