Monthly Archives: May 2016

Splice by GoPro: A Great Free Video Editor for iPads

splice ipad

While preparing a workshop for teachers on iPad movie making, I was reviewing my top picks for free iPad video editors. One of my early favorites, the Clips Video Editor, is apparently no longer available because the developers got bought out by Google and their apps have been removed from the App Store. So, as I looked for a replacement I came across Splice. This app has been around for a while but I was pleased to see it now includes a iPad version and a much improved user interface. The app was recently acquired by GoPro, but can be used to edit any video footage on your iOS device.

Splice lets you create videos, or photo slideshows, with no time limits, ads or watermarks. It also has an impressive list of editing features that include:

  • Trim, cut, crop photos and videos
  • Choose from a selection of lens filters for special effects
  • An impressive library of free soundtracks and sound effects
  • The ability to record your own voiceover narration
  • The option to overlay and mix multiple audio tracks
  • Ken Burns pan and zoom effect
  • Control over video playback speed – slow motion or super fast!
  • A collection of professional looking video transitions
  • Text overlays for photos or videos

splice ipad

The interface may take a little getting used to, but I found it pretty intuitive and easy to learn. It is different from iMovie, but different in a good way. Everything feels very modern and fresh. There is a great built-in, searchable help menu that can be used to find the features you want, but it is largely text based. A few screenshots here would add a lot to the usefulness of the help screens.

Finished videos can be shared in a number of ways. There is built-in support for direct uploads to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, but you can also save to the camera roll or activate the “Open in” app picker to choose another app like Drive or Dropbox. However, perhaps most interesting is the ability to share via a link. When you choose this option, your video will be uploaded to GoPro’s servers and you will be given a link to the video that you can share with others. Only those with the link can access the video, and no account or login is required in order to share your video this way. Here’s a link to my sample Splice video. (Note: You can turn the GoPro outro on or off as required. In this case I chose to leave it on).

splice video editor

Any drawbacks? GoPro state that some features require newer devices and the latest version of iOS. As yet, I have not been able to uncover what those are, but no doubt time will tell. There are no themes like you might find in iMovie, and you can’t adjust how long text appears on a video clip. Once you add it, the text is there for the whole clip, just like it is in iMovie, unless you split the clip and only add text to the part you need. Finally, when in landscape mode, the narration button is harder to find than it should be. You need to tap Audio tab and then scroll up with one finger to reveal the additional audio track on the timeline.

Otherwise, if you are looking for a free video editor for your iPad, Splice by GoPro is well worth a look because it’s a powerful video editor that works really well on the iPad. I will definitely use it more in the future because I love the design of the app and the way everything is laid out. Below is a sample video that I put together in Splice with Creative Commons Zero video clips sourced from www.pixabay.com.

ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia Retire

ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia Retire

TechSmith announced today that they are ending all support and services for ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia in order to focus efforts on their Mac & PC desktop products, Snagit and Camtasia. This will come as a blow to many educators, especially those using Chromebooks & iPads, but their rationale does make sense. In a statement on their website, TechSmith said:

“Over the last several months, TechSmith has been reassessing how we can best serve the millions of amazing customers that use our tools to create remarkable images and videos everyday for their customers, colleagues, and classrooms…By retiring these products, TechSmith will be in a stronger position to develop tools that serve the needs of our customers. We remain dedicated to teachers, students, and instructional designers all over the world who use Snagit and Camtasia to create learning materials for the classroom, from K-12 to higher education.”

A full FAQ that outlined their decision making process is included on the same website. However, to soften the blow, TechSmith say you can use the code DESKTOPDISCOUNT in their web store through June 10, 2016 to receive 50% off a single EDU license of Snagit or Camtasia. Both are excellent products and I use them regularly.

So, are there free alternatives that can be used in place of these popular products? For the most part yes, although many now come as “freemium” products. For a browser based screencasting solution, Screencastify is a very decent alternative and it works on Chromebooks. If you have a Mac or a PC then screencastomatic.com is another free option that is well worth looking at. Microsoft fans with PowerPoint 2013 or later should check out the Office Mix add-in for Windows for some excellent screencasting options.

iPad users have a lot of decent alternatives to Screenchomp and Knowmia. Things like Educreations, ShowMe, IPEVO Whiteboard and Doceri are all free, or have free versions, you can use for screencasting in the classroom. There is also the extremely versatile ExplainEverything that can be bought for $5.99 (or $2.99 VPP).

Will you miss ScreenChomp, Snagit for Chrome, and Knowmia? Have you found some good alternatives to take their place? If so, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

How to Use Q&A in Google Slides for iPad & iPhone

Google Slides Q&A

When Google Slides first came out, I wasn’t very kind in my review of all that it could do (or not do). However, the iOS app has seen a lot of improvements and today Google released a brand new feature that will be great for classrooms and presenters everywhere – a live question and answer module that lets an audience ask and vote on questions they would most like you do address. Here’s how it works.

When I first tried out this feature, I couldn’t find how to activate it. My app was up to date, but there was nothing in the menus that indicated how to start a Q&A session. Turns out, there is something you need to know first. The Q&A feature is only available when your iPad is connected to a projector or other external device. This means you need to mirror your iPad via Airplay, or use a VGA adapter to connect to the display you want to present on. You will not be able to access Q&A unless you are connected to an external display.

Step 1: Connect your iPad to the projector or external display.

Step 2: Launch the presentation you want use, and tap the play arrow from the toolbar. In the drop-down menu, choose to Present to an external display.

Present to external display

Step 3: Once you are in presenter mode, tap the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen to open the Q&A menu.

Q&A button

Step 4: Tap START NEW to start a new Q&A session.

Start new Q&A

Step 5: If you are a Google Apps for Education user, or a Google Apps business user, you will have the option to limit questions to people within your organization, but if you select Anyone, everyone in the audience, regardless of whether they have a Google account or not, can ask or vote on questions.

Question permissions

Step 6: Once you have set the permissions you want, click the back arrow in the top left-hand corner of your screen to return to your presentation. At this point, you see the presenter mode, and the audience sees your first slide with a banner along the top that has a URL for them to visit on their device in order to enter questions and vote on questions submitted by others.

Presenter View Google Slides iPad

Step 7: When a new question arrives, you will see a number appear on the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Tap the number to see the questions that have been asked.

Step 8: To address a specific question with your audience, tap on it. This changes the audience view from your current slide to a full-screen view of the question you selected, as well as the name of the person that asked the question, (so long as they signed in with their Google account before asking the question). If the user does not sign in before asking a question, they will be listed as Anonymous.

Audience Question

Step 9: If the audience members have voted on questions, the ones with the most votes appear at the top of your list, (a la Google Moderator). Every question you answer/address is highlighted with a checkmark so you can see which ones you have answered and which ones you have not got to yet.

Step 10: When you exit your presentation, you can tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the app and access Q&A History. This shows you all the questions that were asked during the presentation. The entries are time stamped so that if you gave the same presentation on different days, you will be able to see what was asked for each day.

The video below show the Google Slides Q&A in action: