Monday, 19 October 2015

A Follow-up to Video and Mobile Things



I recently had cause to work on a video project. The end result was quite satisfying, but the journey was a bit rough. I thought that I'd share the experience with you, as it is an example of bringing a few of the Things together for a real-world use.

What I wanted to do
The project was to create a video tutorial for setting up a piece of land surveying equipment. The exact details are not that important, but picture a tripod with a very expensive optical instrument on top and you'll get the idea. The issue is that most textbooks make a very poor effort at describing exactly how to do this. It is a very hands-on procedure, and the best way to do it is usually only learned by doing it for yourself. In an effort to help my students to understand the steps in the procedure, I decided to make a recording of me doing the set-up. The plan was to edit it on YouTube, to include annotations, and make it public. It didn't go exactly as planned.

What I did first
I used my iPhone to record a full take of me setting up the equipment (I did the setting up, and a colleague did the camera work). The take included close-ups and wider angle views of what was going on. I then packed all the equipment away and started again. This time I took about half a dozen shorter clips of various close-ups. The plan was to edit these together to make a coherent story of how to carry out the procedure from start to end.

What I did next
I uploaded the video clips to my PC and opened them using Windows Movie Maker. I attempted to piece together the clips in the right order, including making duplicate clips to add-in where certain procedures needed to be shown a second time. I found that the software was not as easy to use as I expected, and after a short while (perhaps an hour or so), I gave up. I went back to the clips on my iPhone and had a play around with the iMovie app that was on there. What I found was a real eye-opener: it was far easier to piece together the edit on the phone than it was on the PC. I was able to add a title and end credits, and use slick looking transitions (such as swipes and cross-fades) between the clips. As I was not interested in adding a voice-over, or using the original recorded audio on the video, I muted all of the clips and added a music soundtrack (available in iMovie). At this stage, I was feeling very pleased with myself!

Where it went wrong
After getting the edit about right, I uploaded the video to YouTube. I did not make it public right away, as I wanted to add annotations to the video. The idea of using annotations rather than a voice-over was that I wanted the video to be easy to use "in the field" by students: I felt that if they could pause the video and read some instructions it might be more usable than listening to instructions. Also, I was conscious that perhaps audio-only instruction may not suit a viewer with hearing difficulties. As there was no voice-over, I could not add automatic subtitles. Instead, I had to go through the video and add annotations manually. This was not a difficult process, but was time consuming. To give this a bit of context, the video is about 5 minutes long, and adding the annotations took about an hour. When I was happy that the annotations and video were working well together, I made the video public. That's where it started to go wrong!

When I viewed the video on YouTube on my phone, I noticed that the annotations did not appear. The video and the music were working, but the written instructions were missing. I did some investigating, and it turns out that there is no way to display annotations on a YouTube video when it is being viewed on a mobile device. This was a big issue, as I had thought that most students would be using their smartphones to view the video while out and about. I quickly took the video out of the public domain.

How I fixed it
I went back to iMovie on my phone. The version that was on there had no annotation, just video and music. I found a setting that allows you to add titles to any video clip, so I went through the entire video and recreated the annotations that I had added on YouTube. This took longer than on my PC, as the screen was smaller and I had to be a bit more careful with my typing. However, after just over an hour, I had annotated the video on the phone. I then uploaded it to YouTube. Because the annotations were part of the video file coming from my phone, I did not have to add any text on YouTube. The video basically came as a finished product off my phone. The annotations were now visible on the video regardless of what device was used to view it. Result!

Wrap up
So there you go: a combination of video and mobile apps for a real-world application. What did I learn? 1. That my phone is an excellent piece of hardware for capturing video, and it has excellent software for editing movies. 2. That YouTube has a serious limitation regarding annotations. Sum up: Apple 1, Google 0

If you want to see the end result (and I realise that the exact content may not seem very relevant to you), have a look at the video below.


(Photo from unsplashed.com)

This "Follow-up" Thing was written by Wayne Gibbons, Lecturer in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, Ireland. 


4 comments:

  1. Hi Wayne, Just to say i was reading some of your blogs and i'am enjoying them, like yourself I want to take my time with each THING not just skim over them and blog hence i'am on Thing 16 as this course is completed, even though i will gladly use some of these tools again or even further explore them. Jackie

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  2. Hi Jackie. Thanks for your feedback! Glad to see that you are enjoying the Things. If you need any further help with any of the ones I wrote, just drop me a line. Wayne.

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  4. Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for sharing - it's when things go wrong that we learn the most!

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