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

5 Video Tutorials for Green Screen App By Do Ink

Green screen tutorials

I am a big fan of using green screen in the classroom. My favorite app for doing that is the Green Screen app by Do Ink, so you can imagine how happy I was to see these new green screen tutorial videos from Do Ink that show you various ways to use the app. Each video is short and to the point. They are a great way to learn the app, or to share with others that are interested in getting started with green screen on the iPad. Take a look! The videos are embedded below.

How to Combine, Trim and Save Two Videos

Just getting started with green screen? Then this is the video tutorial for you. It shows you the basics of how to combine your green screen video with a background of your choice, as well as how to save and export your finished video. Easy, right?

How To Use All 3 Layers in the Green Screen by Do Ink app

Wondering what you can do with all three media tracks? In this video you can see a quick demonstration of how (and why) you can use all three tracks to make a multimedia video that is layered with different tracks. It sounds hard, but it is easier than you think.

How to Change Position, Size and Orientation of Images

I find that this is something people discover by accident, but it is a very useful skill to know when using the Green Screen by Do Ink app. With a couple of pinch and drags you can easily scale and move your images to position them exactly where you want them on the screen. The same technique works with pre-recorded video.

How to Crop Images, Videos and Live Camera

The crop tool is a powerful way to deal with smaller green screens, or bad framing when capturing the original photo or video. Why? It lets you crop out areas of the image that you don’t want to appear in your final video. Here’s how to do it.

How to Use the Mask Tool to Create a Moving Newspaper

This is my favorite of all the videos. It shows you how to create an animated newspaper that looks like it fell straight off the set of a Harry Potter movie. This could be a great way for students to interact with local or national news and give their opinions on hot topics. It could also be ideal for historical perspective pieces with archive images of newspapers from the past. This green screen video tutorial is quick and easy to follow.

Are you using green screen in your classroom? What tutorials would you like to see next?

How to Blur Student Faces on YouTube Videos

Blur student faces on YouTube

Student privacy is important, but so is sharing student work online. With the ability to blur faces on YouTube you may be able to have the best of both worlds. YouTube has had blurring effects for some time now, but it was somewhat crude and did not always work as well as it might. However, this week YouTube introduced custom blurring effects, and they work much better than before. Here’s how they work!

Step 1: Upload your video to YouTube. If you have student faces that you need to blur before you go public with your video, be sure to set your video to private until you get all the edits done that you need.

Step 2: Follow the URL for your new video and click the magic wand under the player controls to go to the Enhancements menu.

magic wand youtube player

Step 3: Select the Blurring Effects tab on the right-hand side of the screen, and then click the Edit button next to Custom blurring.

blurring effects youtube

Step 4: Cue up your video to the point where you would like the blurred effect to begin, then click and drag a box around the face(s) that you would like to blur. Adjust the size of the blurred area by dragging the corners of each box. You will see a blurring preview in the player and during playback you will notice that YouTube will attempt to track the movement of the face(s) you selected.

blurred faces on YouTube

Step 5: Adjust the duration of each blurred box by clicking and dragging the effect boxes on the timeline underneath the video. This will control when the effect begins and ends.To prevent the blurred area tracking the subject as they move around the screen, click the Lock icon to fix it in position.

edit blurring effects

Step 6: Once you are finished, click Done and preview the effect in the before and after window. If you find you need to make further tweaks, click Reconfigure to fine tune your adjustments.

Step 7: When you are ready, you can save your creation, adjust your sharing permissions accordingly, and share your video with everyone you want to see it.

If you are planning on using the YouTube blurring effects to blur student faces in videos, you will find that it works best on static or slower moving subjects. As of now, it is not as effective for things like sporting events or unpredictable movements. For all other scenarios, this is a useful tool for educators and for anyone else that needs to make light work of an otherwise complex editing process.

Hyper: Inspiring Videos for the Classroom

hyper ipad app

Educator’s looking for great examples of digital storytelling, journalism, and video production should take a look at a brand new app called Hyper: Best Daily Videos. It’s one of my favorite new apps for the iPad and I am going to take a few minutes to tell you why, as well as share some of the videos you can expect to see with this new video app.

I am currently taking some graduate classes as part of a Master’s degree. One of these classes is focused on filmmaking and digital storytelling: skills which I believe are important for students to be exposed to. The class has really opened my eyes to all that goes in to the creation of a great video in terms of the time and effort that is required to tell a really good story.

In essence, this is the goal of Hyper. It is a daily video magazine that consists of 6-12 videos that are hand-picked by real people. Each one is chosen for its quality, production values, visual appeal, journalistic integrity or storytelling prowess. Many are educational and are designed to make you think. For instance, did you know the internet is under water and covered in Vaseline? The video below explains why.

Looking for examples of great stories? Vimeo has always been a great place to find them. The Staff Picks often contain great stories worth sharing, but there are plenty of other amazing videos on Vimeo that don’t always get the attention they might. The film that is embedded below is from Alex Aimard. It has some amazing shots of a world champion skydiver. It is also less than three minutes long. Can your students tell a great story in three minutes or less? It would be fun to watch them try.

Green screen is all the rage, right? Whenever I show teachers how to use green screens, I like to put it in perspective. I show some of the real world examples that we see today in film and television. The video below is from WIRED and is a behind the scenes look at The Martian, starring Matt Damon. It shows exactly how and why green screen effects were needed to make this movie as authentic as it could be.

Need some interesting talking points for Social Studies? How about this next video. It exposes the true cost of the vast amounts of food that we waste on a daily basis. Is there a way to avoid this? What can governments do to discourage or redistribute the surplus? Your students could help decide.

All of these videos, and many more, are videos that I have watched in the Hyper app for iPad over the last week or so. The app is slick and well-designed. It refreshes with a new set of videos once a day, and if you miss a day, you can go back a few days to catch up on the ones you missed. You can also take advantage of the Weekend Recap which rounds up the best videos of the week.

Not every video is going to be one that you are going to use for in your classroom. In fact, not every video is going to be appropriate for your classroom. Hyper is rated 12+ so you will occasionally find videos that skirt the line between acceptable and unacceptable. That said, the vast majority of the videos that I have seen are just great examples of modern filmmaking. They are inspiring for videographers young and old. In my opinion, that makes Hyper a perfect discovery tool for educators who are looking to teach students the finer points of film making. Try it out for yourself and see what you think.

Cameo by Vimeo: A Free Video Editor for iOS

cameo video editor for ios

When using an iPad, there are not many free video editors that are robust enough, or have enough features, to warrant you spending a lot of time and effort on. Recently, I write about the Clips Video Editor. It is a great free option for schools or anyone else who is looking for a quick easy editor. Today I am writing about a new app that recently got a big overhaul to make it much more useable. It is called Cameo by Vimeo.

Technically, Cameo is an iPhone app. It is optimized for an iPhone 5, 6 and 6 Plus. However, it runs just fine on an iPad if you want it too. It doesn’t have a whole lot of bells and whistles, but it does the basics well and has some nice touches that you may not find in other apps. You can see a sample video below that I very quickly put together with the Cameo app.

Getting started is easy. Simply pick the clips from your camera roll that you want to add. Right now, it is video only, no pictures. Once you have the clips you need, your movie will begin playing but you can jump into the editor screens by tapping one of the three buttons in the bottom right hand-corner of your screen.

The scissors icon is a great place to start. Here you can trim the beginning or end of a clip, rearrange the order of your clips, add a caption or title to one or more clips, and optionally mute the audio of any of your videos. A number of audio tracks are built-in to the app and are available by tapping the music icon. Here you can browse by genre or see the featured artists that Vimeo is highlighting. The last button (the color pallete icon) lets you choose a theme to apply to your video. This is optional, but some nice effects can be achieved by choosing a video filter, and Cameo allows you to vary the strength of any effect you add. Each theme has its own selection of fonts that will be applied if you add any titles.

 

cameo editor screen

Once you are done editing, tap the check mark in the top right-hand corner of the screen. At this point, you can give your video a title, choose a thumbnail, and add a description. You can choose to upload it to Vimeo, or save it to the Camera Roll. Note that finished videos will automatically fade to black at the end, and so will the music. Also, if your video is longer than your chosen music track, the track will automatically loop. At the moment, this is not something that the Clips Video Editor does.

All in all, it is a very polished experience, and a nice video editor that could be ideal to introduce students to the power of video editing. It is missing a few things that you might want like transitions or the ability to set the volume of a music track. It would also be great if you had some ability to create exit titles to cite source materials, but otherwise there is a lot of positives here and I enjoyed using the app. I have no reason to suggest otherwise, but if the app remains free, it is easy to recommend it for the classroom.

I’ve always liked Vimeo. You might not always have the choice or variety you get with sites like YouTube, but there is a lot less noise. There are also some great storytellers on Vimeo, many of which are highlighted in Staff Picks each week. Some of these videos can be great model examples for film, journalism, and language arts students who are looking to tell digital stories of their own.

Another reason I like Vimeo is for the stock footage channels. There are several film makers on Vimeo that freely distribute video clips for you to use and download for your own use. The ones on the video clip above, were sourced from a Vimeo Group called Free HD Stock Footage. I often look here when I am looking for background videos for things like green screen video projects on the iPad.

So, if you are looking to edit video on the iPad, and don’t have the time (or money) to spend on iMovie, Cameo is well worth a look.

How to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails With Canva

youtube thumbnails on canva

Looking for a quick and easy way to increase views on your YouTube videos? If so, custom thumbnails are for you. With Canva you can create a thumbnail for YouTube videos that is guaranteed to catch the eye when your video appears in search results or is embedded on a website. Here’s what you need to know.

YouTube recommends that your image be 1280 x 720 pixels, that it is less than 2mb, and is either a JPEG, PNG, GIF or BMP file. Thankfully, this is easy to replicate in Canva using either the web interface or the iPad app. Simply select Use custom dimensions, enter the pixel measurements above and hit the Design button.

use custom dimensions canva

From here, pick the tools that will give you the look and feel that you want for a video thumbnail. Take advantage of the text elements that are provided, or get creative with your own. Think about bold, clear text or icons that can will catch the eye and be easily read at a glance. Be sure to leave a small margin at the top and bottom of your image because this is often covered with the the YouTube player when your video is embedded on a website. If your video is part of a series of videos, or you want to create an identity to match your school colors or brand, you can easily incorporate that into your thumbnails in the same way that districts like CCSD59 in Illinois do with their videos.

create custom thumbnails

Continue reading “How to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails With Canva”

The NEW Animoto for Education

Animoto, the popular online video creation service, been around for a while now. In fact it has been “in the works” since 2005. I first used it almost four years ago, and I have revisited it many times since that first experience. Why? Because there are few tools that are quicker, easier to use, and capable of producing such a high quality finished product. I love showing it to teachers.

The site is updated regularly with new features, and it even has its own mobile app for iOS and Android. Best of all, Animoto has a free account for Educators. Today, they relaunched their site with a great new look and a new logo too, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to take another look at how useful this tool can be in the classroom.

Animoto.com

Making an Animoto video is a very simple process. You start by choosing a style for your video. There are plenty to choose from, and each will add its own personality to your finished product. Next, choose some music. You can upload music of your own that you or your students created in something like Garageband, or you can browse through the library of songs that are built-in to the Animoto editor. Photos and videos can be uploaded directly to the site, or imported from a variety of social media sites. Lastly, you can add text slides, to help tell your story and give context to your media.

Animoto video editor

At this point, if you wanted, you could render your video and download or share it with others. However, there are a number of tweaks you can make to enhance your video. For instance, the spotlight tool will give more prominence to images you deem worthy of it. You can duplicate slides, rotate them, and change the order of them by dragging and dropping them. You can choose a starting point for your music, and pace your slides to the length of music you chose. After you are done with all the tweaking, you can preview the video to see if it is all that you hoped it would be. If not, simply return to the editing screen and change your style, music, or media until it is perfect. Videos can be downloaded, embedded and shared on social media sites.

Animoto Education

So, if you have not tried Animoto recently, or at all, you should definitely take a look to see what is there. Just be sure to sign up for the educator account (a $30 value) because this will remove the 30 second video limit you get with the free accounts. Once signed up, you will be given a class code that you can share with students. When students register for an account, they use this code to get the upgraded education edition of Animoto. Want to create your own student accounts? Animoto has a solution for that too.

Do you use Animoto in your classroom? What do you (or your students) like about it? Feel free to leave a comment below with your experiences.