Monday, February 28, 2011

Help Fund the Voces de Cambio Visual Storytelling Project

I know the power of photography can life a teenage person out of herself and introduce her to the world, both within and exterior. I was that teenager. Constructing your narrative can be very powerful but sometimes you need a little help.

The Voces de Cambio is an after school project for Guatemalan teenage girls. The project needs funds for camcorders and other stuff so that the young ladies can record documentaries about they life and the life of the neighborhood.

This is a video explaining the project:

From the web site:

Voces de Cambio was born out of the necessity to provide a safe space for Guatemalan girls to begin to imagine a new role for themselves in their homes, schools, and communities. Using writing and photography, Voces de Cambio encourages girls to construct a new “social narrative”, one in which they occupy an equal and authentic voice.

All you gotta go is swing on over to the Kickstart fund raising page and pony up $1 or more if you have it to spare. They need $7,500 and they only have 1/3 of the amount.

Time is ticking. If they don't raise the $7,500 they don't get anything.

Honestly, it really does make a difference.

Tole-rants - 60 Seconds of Problem and Solution

The hubbub about civil debate and discussion was not just a re-action to a terrible event. Tole-Rants is an example of how video can help change the noise level on contentious topics.

From the web site:

Rather than ranting about everything that is wrong in the world, tole-ranters speak from the heart about social problems, and point to potential solutions - in 60 seconds. The dawn of hope-filled, heartfelt communications is here. It's time to tole-rant.

Thinking, reasonable people do want to hear other points of view but they also want to know what can be done about a problem or situation. This seems to be international in focus, this would be a great opportunity for a more positive dialog with the world community.

Tole-Rants are on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My PSA Experiment Post Mortem

I finally finished the PSA project. It is no great shakes but I did put it together. The trick was I looked around on my computer to see what software ideas I had that could give me a jump start.

I have Corel Paint Shop Pro Project Center on my computer. Never used it. What the hell, I dive in. I tried the feature where it does animate photos into a movie but that didn't really work for me. I couldn't customize the timing of the photos.

I used the collage feature. I made different photo jpeg walls of the various images and articles and exported them out. I then brought those into my video editing program and sliced in stand alone photo to make the video. Popped in title cards and the web address and it is done.

The music is by Ma Rainey which I obtained from the Internet Archive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

KDMC Webinar and Tutorial Videos

The Knight Digital Media Center (KDMC) has a lot of tutorial resources, video help and web seminars to help citizen journalists, reporters and those of us that need to put together a narrative non-fiction video.

Bookmark KDMC Presentations and Webcasts because there is a lot of information to review and soak up.

You want to spend some time diving into this goodness. One of the pages I've got parked for review is Mobile Reporting Tools and Techniques by Will Sullivan. Not only do you get the archived video web cast but you are also able to view any pdf or presentation slides that come with it.

Other Presentations of Interest:

  • Visual Storytelling Techniques and Scripting
  • Mobile & Live Video Techniques
  • Journalists as Community Curators
  • Lessons for 4-Wheel Journalism
This is a good find - I'm patting myself on the back for persistence. There is so much crapola being pumped into pseudo web sites and blogs I was losing hope of finding good, solid resource for web video users.

I'm telling you, we as readers and viewers have to brace up; the flood of crud is upon us. We can survive if we are literate, informed and prepared to meet the enemy with better content.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Using New SD Memory Cards in Old Computers

Many of us just can't rush out when the news computer of our dreams comes along. This can put a crimp in video editing. One of the ways it can hurt is when you insert a new fangled memory card that isn't support by your computer. In this case, I'm talking specifically about SD Memory cards.

As a reminder, there is standard SD, SDHC and the new kid on the block, SDXC.

Here is the thing. Your old sluggo might have been designed to read the standard SD format. That is fine until you try to place a SDHC or SDXC card in the memory card reader.

You might get an error message about formatting the card. DON'T! You will erase the video contents on the card. There is an inexpensive solution.

You can buy a separate memory card reader for under $5 to $15 at any office or electronic supply store. I've even seen them in places like Target. All you have to do is place your card in the reader and then connect it to the USB slot.

This will make it appear to your computer that it is a disk drive. You can open the folder on your computer that contains the videos and perform a copy and paste the videos to a new folder on your hard drive or make your CD/DVD back-up copy.

Make sure that you have your back-ups videos and have transferred your working video copies before you delete the videos from the card.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time to Update Your Video Editing Software?

If your new camcorder is giving your old video editing software fits it just might be time to upgrade.

The Clues:
  • You spend more time trying to get the video into your video editing software than you spend in editing the video.
  • The video format of your new camcorder is not supported by your old version of the program.
  • The software keeps crashing, locking up, freezes and then tries again to process your work.
Yep, it might be time to look into an upgrade or a new package. Now if what works for you is good don't fool with it.

Gretchen Siegchrist at has good information about buying software. It is what I would tell you, try before you buy.

But for me it is time. I am willing spending cash money for a solution. I'm being courted to upgrade to the newest version of various editing applications.

At this time Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 is saving my behind with that dang pesky .MTS video files. It does take .MTS video in without any fuss. My problem is that I never really liked the user interface and sometimes what I want to do has to be modified by what I can do in the program.

Like making L-Cuts, crossfades on my terms and fine tuned tweaking. I use another program called Serif Movie Plus X3 but it really can't handle .MTS files and there are export limitations on the size of the exported video. Hence my conversion work flow that isn't working.

I'm backed up to Brooklyn.

The file size thing, I hate uploading 100+MBs of video on my DSL - takes forever. No fooling 54.1k upload speed.

In South Korea they have 1GB Internet service. Keep this in mind as members of Congress fight against a national broadband service. I have a need for speed!

The new version Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 is promising some tasty goodies:
  • Stop Motion Animation – create your own animated movie starring people, toys or objects
  • Time-Lapse Effect – easily and quickly create time-lapse sequences from photos or videos
  • Advanced editing – have fun making movies with quick access to professional editing tools
  • Export in 3D – turn your 2D video into a 3D movie
  • Easy HD sharing – author and burn HD movies directly to DVD and Blu-ray Disc™
The 3D thing - naw, not me. I'm having enough trouble in 2 dimensions; what do I want to start pulling hairs on the third. Until there is a unified standard where count me out.

The other things I'd like to play with but I really need is an application that allows me to work the way I want. I can download a trial version and I might do that if it doesn't wonk up my current settings.

Serif has a new version - MoviePlusX5 and I did buy the upgrade at a reduced price. Hasn't arrived yet cuz they kicked in a green screen and they ran out of green screens to ship. Such is life.

I bought it because it now accepts AHCVD videos and I hope to heaven that means .MTS , AVC and the other hateful permutations of HD video formats.

Truth is, I'm still looking for that perfect for me video editing program. If I could combine Corel and Serif into a master package it would be perfect.

No, Final Cut Pro is not an option. I'm on a PC and I don't have $999+ to spend on software.

I'll look around at the other contenders but I really should be saving some cash to upgrade to a 2 terabyte drive. I'm maxed out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Strike One and Why Man Creates

It is time for me to go back to the Salt Mine. I did make a PSA in about five hours but it is just crossfades, photos and text. I did it but it is blah. I wanted something a little more than blah.

It is also, by today's viewing public too long at 33 seconds.

I'm bummed but not defeated. Today's pathfinder is advertising great Saul Bass. This is a clip from his great video "Why Man Creates" and if you were in any kind of school that had art associated with it there was a good chance you saw this video.

This is the famous introductory sequence. Oh, for you young whippersnappers, this is hand drawn and traditionally animated. No computers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

VideoMaker Article - Using Still Photos In Video

I'm multitasking on my day off. Which is turning into catch up day for everything but not including work. I've conjured a version or two of the PSA project. It's ok but no great shakes.

In the meantime, I got in my mailbox an 2005 article from VideoMaker magazine about using photos in video.

I gotta tell you. Animoto is looking kinda good to me. Dang it for wanting to do it myself. Me and my big mouth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Software Do I Have To Work With - PSA Project

Looking over the resources to conjure up the public service ad. Again, I have to keep the my goals in mind:
  • The goal is to let folks know about the AFRO American newspaper archive and direct them to the web site.
  • I don't have a lot of time, it should be something that I can assemble in an afternoon.
  • It can't be complex, I don't have the skills or the design know how and I don't think it needs to be.
So lemme see what I've got in the old kit bag:

Screen Capture:

I use Camtasia SnagIt to capture and customize computer generated images. I love the SnagIt Editor, captioning and resizing is a breeze. For those on the PC side who don't have cash I can recommend the free version of Gadwin PrintScreen.


I would like to have a clip or two from the 1940s and 1950s but finding a public domain or governmental video of African Americans on the screen for more than two seconds is a challenge. I'll give it a go but I have low expectations.

Photo and Text Animation:

I could just do screen captures and let Animoto compose the video. I could, but where is the fun in that?

Microsoft Photo Story 3 which will let me combine photos, music and narration into a movie.

I have a flash animation clone called SwishMax, it allows me to animate photos and text and then export to an .avi video file. Looking at the text animation feature that could be helpful. There are built in animation effects that I can just type and render.

I also have an older program called Momento Express (no longer available for download or it is a spammy copy of the original program.) It is similar to Microsoft Photo Story 3 but it has some nifty features like being able to zoom in on a particular hot spot that you want to focus on in the image.

I have plenty of video editing programs but I want to make sure I just do the basics.


I have Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 which comes with a supply of music. I'll need to go back and look at the terms of service about the music. I don't want to be surprised to find out if it is just for personal or non-commercial use.

I will also check for public domain music. That is gonna be tough because I'm not sure what kind of music would be appropriate; should I go blues, spiritual or thumping bass? It is more of a risk that I will get lost listening to music than working on the project.

There are a number of musicians that do give permission to use their music provided you give attribution or a link back to their site. Places like or the Celestrial Aeon Project.

The point is you don't need a lot of high tech stuff to make a simple PSA video.
Sometimes simple is all you need to make a point or tell the story.
Maybe we have forgotten that and get caught up in the whiz bang of technology.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Design Ideas For A Public Service Ad

I've been peculating on the AFRO Archive idea. I know that text and photos are going to be dominant. I need visual inspiration and design ideas. I'm not a designer.

I do know that paying attention to a few design concepts can make a video better.

Sometimes you can get design ideas from looking at old advertisements. This is a promotional ad for the ABC Evening News from I'd guess the late 1960s. It just contains text, drawings, photos and limited animation with a frantic sound track.

Idea Generators

The Advertising Council knows a thing or two about creating public service announcements. You could not have watched television without seeing a PSA or two an hour. These ads were produced by the leading advertising companies of the day so they knew how to get to a person attention. You can view some of the most historic campaigns for inspiration.

I also want to touch base with resources life Before and After Magazine for ideas about color, placement and typography.

Definitely gonna check out the retro ads at Design/Destroy - there are some trippy ads from the past I never knew about.

Dynamic Graphics was a good magazine. Yes, past tense. However the web site is still up and there is a tutorial section on how to create certain text and print effects.

This should be enough to get me started.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AFRO Archives - Thinking About Creating A PSA

I think one of the things that web video can do is to help promote resources. I found out about the AFRO Archives. I was reading the comments and one of them bothered me.

One commenter thought the archives was a good idea but doubted that African Americans would be interested in this kind of information.

I disagree, I think folks would be very interested if you let them know that it exists or let other people liked educators know it exists so that the archive can be used as a teaching resource.

AFRO American Newspaper Archives
Yeah, so what does this have to do with creating a video? Glad you asked.

Yesterday I wrote about the process about creating a core message video. Well, why not a very short video PSA to help promote the AFRO Archives or by extension any non-profit that does good work but has zero promotion.

For the record, yes, I know Google and the AFRO American Newspaper Chain are in no way non-profit organizations. In this situation perhaps I'm acting as a (non)Robin Hood and sharing what I found in the forest of information.

Yeah, that's it.

Basic Brainstorm Questions:

Do I have time to do this? No, but I'm doing it anyway. But time is a factor so that means I have to keep it short and simple.

Who besides myself would be interested knowing about the resource? Librarians, teachers, historians, genealogists, writers, students, and info-junkies everywhere.

What About Copyright? That could be sticky. The newspaper chain does still exist. The newspaper archives are being presented in a public display but that doesn't mean I can necessarily snatch, grab and post.

I believe that I could use a very small portion of some of the banners and images under Fair Use but I have to check the web site to see if there is a statement on what is and isn't allowed.

I've got a bit more brainstorming to do but these are the kind of questions that need to be considered before you jump into planning and producing a video PSA.

Related Posts

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some Thoughts on Creating A Core Message Video

There are times when you want to communicate a specific message. It could be a lesson, a concept or a point of view. Advertisers do this all the time so we can be inspired by using their techniques for a higher purpose.

I like to reverse engineer hard to understand concepts so this is what I've come up with as a jump off point to help creating tutorials and example videos.

To create a core message video you need to know:
  • What is it that you want to communicate?
  • Why is it important?
  • Why is in it for them?
  • After viewers see the video what do you want them to do with the information?
Basic questions that can be applied to writing, audio podcasting or education videos.

What Is Your Payoff?

What do you get out of creating this video? It could be to please another person, make money, get the message out but there has to be a compelling reason why you decided to do this video. If not then it can become a pain.

Your payoff has to be greater than the pain of putting all the parts of the project together.

What Is the Story?

Can you state the concept of the video in 30 words or less? What your project is about? If you can do that goes a long way to making a video. Sure we can be inspired by an idea but you have to convert the idea to a reality. How do you do that?

For some folks text or pictorial outlining is very important. Others can internally map out what they want to do (so they say). It doesn't matter what your process is. It is more important that you have one.

Ask anybody that has experienced the questionable joy of having a leader who demands stuff to be done but doesn't have a clue as how to begin or wrap it up.

Yes, it is a special kind of hell.

Call To Action

After folks see the video what do you want them to do?
  • Apply the lesson
  • Tell a friend
  • Save the world
So basically a core message video has a specific structure that tells a story. That story will communicate information or a connection you are supplying to the viewer. There is an exchange of content.

A viewer should receive a benefit for investing time in watching, i.e. a skill, concept or pleasure. You'll have no control over that but if your message is clear there will be an information exchange.

Try it out. Critically listen or watch a commercial. Advertisers do all of the above and in under 30 seconds. There is a method to the madness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Video Biography of Carolen Bailey Using Photos and Audio

What do you do when you have a person that you would like to create a biographical record but for what ever reason they do not want or cannot participate?

This is an example from the Minnesota Historical Society on the first woman police officer, Carolen Bailey.


First of all, you be respectful of individual rights of privacy. If you subject is a family member or someone close to you and really does not want their photo, voice or likeness publicly presented then you should probably not proceed.

With public and historical figures you have a bit a leeway but again, the respect thing can help keep you out of trouble.

I guess you will have to decide if this is a personal, public, journalistic or historical creation. Each one of those types of oral histories have to be approached differently.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Minnesota Historical Society Videos On Oral History

The Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) wants to make sure that there is full awareness of the history and cultural significance of the state.

MHS has a series of videos on YouTube that explain what oral history is, how to do it and provide tips and suggestions on the process.

Other Posts of Interest

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chris Cillizza on Web Video

You know how you are running late and there is something you want to share with folks but there isn't time? Yeah, today is like that. had a conference about online video, this is Chris Cillzza from The Washington Post talking about his perspective.

Oral History of Institutions - Black Churches

You don't have to be human to have a history. You might want to consider investigating the history of various schools, businesses or houses of faith in your community.

In this video Professor of Politics and Government Lorn Foster talks about his research on the history of eight black churches in the Los Angeles area. This is an academic approach but it could give you ideas on how to think about what you can do in your community or how to get folks to talk.

People may not want to talk about themselves but they may talk about the places and things that they hold dear.

Ideas that popped up for me:
  • Review old newspapers and magazines for historical perspective - yes, you might have to go to the library to look at the microfiche files.
  • Dig into the Internet Archive to find governmental videos that show examples of audio narrations
  • Find old telephone books and learn about phone exchanges and what they meant.
  • Do one of the above and then ask a senior to explain what you don't understand.
Everything and everybody has a story - you just need to find it.

Other Posts of Interest

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Farm Apprentice Oral History Project Video

There are options when you create an oral history. It does not have to be a talking head, sit down experience. You can show the person record audio narration while showing photos of them doing what they do to enhance the experience.

This is a video of Ryan O'Hern who is explaining why he is participating at the Stone Barn Apprentice Program.

This is a project of Erin Boyle's Farmer Voices, who mission is to share the work of farmers with the general public.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baylor University Oral History Resources

One of my irritations in life is that there are camcorders not being used in the service of collecting oral histories. I don't care if the person is a senior or child; we need to document there place in time because time changes.

The thing is how do you do it? It might be a little more than just sticking a camcorder in someones face and asking them to tell there history. That is overwhelming and most people will either lock up in fear or don't want to do it.

I've been looking into various resources and this could be helpful to those of you who need to have that conversation with an elder or person of experience.

It can be a little confusing. There is an academic practice of collecting oral histories, there a commercial companies that will create a video historical moment and then there are non-profit organizations that want to show folks how to do it.

There is a lot of overlap but can lead to different types of content production. On the academic side of the fence Baylor University has an Introduction to Oral History with a manual that you can read or download.

Some of the information will pertain to academic researchers but there are items of interest to all:
Planning A Project - The who, what and why are you doing this is important to consider.

Choosing A digital (audio) recorder - There is nothing wrong with getting the audio first and then matching it to slide or video later.

Digital Video Recording Concerns
- the camcorder information may be out of date but the other items about tripods, lighting and audio are spot on for any interview situation.
Again, this is just an exploration of oral history and digital storytelling resources that can help us make tell the most accurate story about a person's life.

Other Posts of Interest

Tahrir Square - In Words and Pictures Using a Rebel T2i

One of the things I notice about the events in Egypt was the amount of mobile phone video, point and share camcorders and all sorts of recording devices in the crowd. There is a tremendous amount of documentation.

This is a video by Oliver Williams recorded on February 1, 2011 using a Canon EOS Rebel T2i EF-S still camera with HD video.

Oliver gives the full story about how he came to record the video at DSLR Newshooter which is a resource I've got to dive into more deeply.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Spy - Remixing The Old to Make the New

One of the creative ways folks are using web video is to take a public domain video and re-cut or remix it with contemporary sound and narration.

Remi from Amins, France belongs to the Vimeo Same Video Different Use Group.

These are the folks that will dive into the Prelinger Archives and transform some of the governmental and industrial videos into new found gold.

Remi found a promotional U.S. Post Office video promoting the use of Zip Codes and transformed it into a love story. It is short but it packs a punch.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Experience With Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

Audio has been a challenge when recording speakers and poets. Some people mumble. Others are racing through their text like they are on the track at the Indy 500.

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
The library room has an automatic heating and air conditioning that cycles on and off. There are old school florescent lights on the ceiling that hum. Standard camcorder audio is fair at best but you can't ask it to perform miracles. I had to do something so I purchased a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder.

It saved my bacon this week for sure. I used Miro Video Converter to export to an .mp4 video format. Later I used MPEG Streamclip to export to de-interlace and export to .avi.

Then I used MoviePlus X3 to edit. It bought in the video fine but the audio was very tinny. It was bad.

I'm thinking mean thoughts about the camcorder but I had to get the video out. I tried to fix the sound in Audacity or use some kind of filter in MoviePlus to pluck out the tinny blips.

Nothing worked. I then like a dope remembered that I have an audio back up. Snipped out the original audio and laid in the .mp3 audio. Worked great. The sound is rich and full bodied, even when recording to .mp3 instead of .wav audio.

Upon reflection it was not the camcorder but perhaps a conversion too many. I'm working out the kinks.

Things I Need To Remember

I need to either leave it on and mark each change of speaker or remember to turn it on and off. I was turning it on and off after each speaker but there were times when I forgot.

The unit is made of plastic - I need to be very careful about transport. My handbag is not the most safe place for this device. It needs a padded case. I can make one but you have to be careful not to crush it.

I put the H1 on auto but I need to experiment with the manual settings to see if I can improve the sound. I'm not an audio person or understand the lingo. It will be a learning curve.
In any event, it was really good to have an alternative audio source. I need to get a windscreen for the mic heads and some kind of brace or connector so that I can have it attach to the tripod.

It was a good investment.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Musings on Miro Video Converter - MTS video to iPad Format

I think I'm on to something here. A brief recap, I bought a Canon VIXIA HF R10 camcorder that records MTS video. It was $199.99 and I would feel rooked it I paid more for it.

The camcorder and I are working it out. It is not bad camcorder but it isn't great either. Canon can and has done better. We are in our Lemonade phase.

For some of the video editing software programs I need to convert the video. I'm testing out different applications like Miro Video Converter.

Miro to iPad Conversion

Now Canon claims that the video is 1920x1080 but in reality it records in 1664x936 and upscales to 1920x1080. This is not good but these are the facts. Since I don't need to record at the upper level I have some flexibility.

So I shoot the video through the Miro iPad conversion filter. I opened QuickTime and looked at the Movie Inspector.

QuickTime Movie Inspector

The video renders at 1365x768. That is a non-standard video size but it is just a hop, skip and a jump to 1280x720. The video quality is acceptable and the sound is ok.

If it can take a bite out of the file size and maintain video quality it would be a win for me. Uploading 200+ MB on my standard DSL connection is not time efficient.

This might be doable. I still have to de-interlace the video and can use MPEG Streamclip for that but this could be a better option than using the default MP4 conversion filter. There may be some tinny sound issues with that filter; I'm not sure.

Testing continues. Running Back to the lab.

Related Posts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Look at Editing With QuickTime Pro For PC Users

QuickTime Pro on the PC is conceptually similar to the text editor Notepad; you can enter information, make limited adjustments and export out a file. I mean no disrespect to either product.

If you understand the strengths and limitations of the program, QuickTime Pro can be a great tools. I'm specifically focusing on the PC version because there have been changes to the Mac version so they are no longer equivalent products.

The current version of QuickTime Pro on the PC is $29.99. If you think that you might have to work with MPEG 2 videos you will also have to pony up $19.99 for the add-on.

What Can QuickTime Pro Do?
  • Import video such as generic .avi, .mov, H.264 mp4 mov video
  • Trim and insert video into a movie
  • Add .mp3 and .wav audio files
  • You can layer and combine movies. For example, you have two movies that you want to display side by side at the same time.? QuickTime can do that. It isn't easy but it is possible.
  • Export to various video formats

What QuickTime Pro Cannot Do:

  • Create Titles
  • Apply Transitions, there aren't any
  • Easily apply video effects, it can be done but it is not obvious

Who Should Use QuickTime Pro?

You need to be comfortable using computers, finding files and willing to experience a short but quirky learning curve. The menus are bare bones and there are no icons to guide your path.

If you are editing on the fly with an underpowered netbook or notebook and need to perform simple trims or cuts to the video this is your software.

If you need to extract audio or video only QuickTimePro is great for that purpose.

If you need to convert video from one file format to another QuickTime can help you out. If you have an .mov video but you want to use Windows Movie Maker or Windows Live Movie Makers it can export to .avi video that that Movie Maker can accept.

If you want to check out what QuickTime Pro can do for you before you buy then you should review the QuickTime Users Guide.

Related Posts