YouTube

Using screencapture software to make next-level PowerPoint presentations

I normally record talks I give at conferences, using my phone in my jacket pocket. I have a strict 'no critiquing myself during the talk itself' rule, so the recording allows me to listen back afterwards and pick up on things that I'd want to do differently next time, or things that worked well etc.

In the past I've also put a video up on YouTube, using Camtasia to record me moving the slides along with the audio of my talk at the LIASA conference in Cape Town. I don't think this worked that well because there was simply too many long periods where nothing changed on the screen - in real life that was fine because the audience looks at the speaker, but in a video - a visual medium after all - it just feels a little inert and uninteresting.

So for a recent talk I decided to try and make a version of the slides that would work as a proper video. I spoke at the CILIP PPRG Conference in January (more on that in a previous post) about our UoYTips marketing campaign - York won a Bronze Marketing Award which I was picking up at the event. I delivered the slides and recorded the talk in the usual way, but then set about creating a new version of the slides that had much more going on visually. The actual slides are here, if you're interested, and here is how they evolved for the video I came up with:

Now I've done this, I'm wondering why I can't just do more visually exciting slides anyway? This doesn't have to be just for YouTube. I've always wanted to use video in presentations more, and it's surprisingly easy to do as it turns out.

The tools

To make the video above I used three bits of software. PowerPoint, obviously, for the slides. Audacity to edit and play the audio (this is free). And Screencastomatic for both the screen-capture videos within the slides, and the overall screen-capture of slides plus audio you can view above. Screencastomatic is a great tool, which I found much easier to use than Camtasia. It's quick and intuitive. It can be used for free, but in order to record videos of more than 15 minutes, and record PC audio, you need the pro subscription - this costs 12 quid year which is pretty great value, I reckon.

Here's what the Screencast-o-matic interface looks like:

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It's very easy to redraw the box around the exact part of the screen (or all the screen) that you want to record. You can pause and restart. You can also record PC audio as you go, or narrate into a mic. As you can see it gives you the option of recording from webcam at the same time if you wish, which happens in a smallish box at the top right of the screen.

It's really easy to use.

The techniques

In the video above there are a number of techniques (perhaps that's too grand a word!) employed to suit different types of information.

  • Actual video recorded on my phone. (This happens about 25 seconds in.) I recorded a video in the usual way, emailed it to myself, and went to Insert Video in PPT. You can make it full screen, or you can overlay the branding / visual identity from your PPT over the top. I think this is crucial to how easy this is to do - the video can effectively be the background of the slide, just like an image can. You then overlay it with text, shapes, images etc as normal.
  • Screencasting Google Earth. I really like this one, which happens here. How to have something dynamic on screen while I talk about the University of York? Type it into Google Earth then press record on the screencasting software, and return on Google Earth. It zooms all the way in and then, delightfully, spins round the building you've chosen for a bit. I'm going to use this in library induction sessions in the future, for sure.
  • Using gifs. There's a couple of examples of this, but here's the most interesting one. It starts off as a regular full-screen image, and then I used animation to first of all drop the text on top of the image at the appropriate time, and secondly to trigger the gif video beginning (having downloaded the gif from a gif site, and saved it as a video).
  • Regular PowerPoint animations and transitions. There's a few moments where things are added onto the screen one-by-one as I mention them, and there's this very long fade transition between two slides
  • Videos of websites instead of screengrabs of websites. There's an example here, and another example here. In the talk I just showed a screenshot of the thing I was talking about, but here it's a 15 second video of the site being used, which is much more interesting. I'm definitely going to reuse this technique.

The drawbacks

Really the only two drawbacks are that it takes time, and it takes space.

Of course, recording a clip on a website in use takes more time than just a screenshot, but it becomes surprisingly quick. Perhaps a minute to set-up, record and save / export 20 seconds' worth of screen-capture, so not too bad at all.

In terms of space - the videos are MP4 files and pleasingly small. Most brief captures were under 1 meg. The 22 second-long Google Earth zoom right at the start of the video was 12 meg. The overall final file - a 20 minute video capturing the whole thing, was 99MB. Video files are so huge, I think this is pretty reasonable.

So, I'd recommend giving this a try. And if you create a presentation with video and upload it anywhere (or you've already done this in the past) leave me a link in the comments...

Steal this: Student Guide to Social Media

If you click the image below, you'll be taken to the Student Guide to Social Media. This is an interactive online resource, giving information on various social media platforms, and on tasks you can accomplish using social media - it is aimed primarily at undergraduates but has applications across the board. It is made available under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons licence: in other words if you think this resource might be of use to YOUR students, feel free to use this, link to this, make it part of your own institution's website, just as long as you credit the creators (the BY part), aren't using it for commercial purposes (the NC part) and use it entirely as it is, in its current state, rather than creating your own version or derivatives (the ND part).

A screenshot of the resource's homepage

 

Alternatively, book mark libassets.manchester.ac.uk/social-media-guide/ or click the link to open the resource in a new window.

A Northern collaboration

The resource is the result of a joint project between the Libraries of the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and York, developed over the Summer. Michelle Schneider from Leeds' very successful Skills@Library team approached me about working together on a social media resource for undergraduates - I was extremely pleased she did, because it was something on my list to do anyway.

There's a lot of support out there for postgrads, academics, researchers generally in using social media, but I don't think there's as much for undergraduates. It's an area we're looking to expand at my own institution, and as well as face-to-face workshops I really wanted something that worked as an interactive learning object online, probably made using Articulate / Storyline. Imagine how pleased I was, therefore, when Michelle told me the other collaborators would be Manchester, including Jade Kelsall, who is absolutely brilliant with Articulate! I'd worked with Jade before at Leeds; she provided all the technical expertise to create the Digitisation Toolkit (using the Articulate), one of the parts of the LIFE-Share project I actually enjoyed. Also on the team were Carla Harwood at Leeds, and Sam Aston at Manchester.

So we got together, brainstormed on lots of massive pieces of paper, photographed the paper with our ipads, emailed each other a lot, and came up with a resource which we think will be really useful. I feel quite bad because I was off on paternity leave for a month of this and it took me ages to get back up to speed, so I don't feel like I contributed enough compared to Jade and Michelle who worked tirelessly on this (sorry guys!) but I'm really pleased with the result. It's gone down very well on Twitter, and I was excited to see we've found our way onto a curriculum already:

 

 

How it works

Increasingly as I do more and more teaching, training, and planning, I'm aware that when introducing people to new tools (or trying to help people use existing tools better) you have to give them two different versions of the same core information. The first and obvious thing is how to use a tool - e.g. here's Twitter, here's how you create an account, here's some tips on using it. But this assumes some prior knowledge - what if you don't know why you'd need Twitter? So you also have to present the information in terms of tasks people want to achieve: "I want to boost my professional reputation" is one such task, and Twitter would be among the tools you might recommend to achieve this. The great thing about using Storyline is we can do exactly that - students can explore this resource by tool, or by task, or both.

We've also included case studies (some video, some not) and I'm indebted to my colleague in the Career's Service at York, Chris Millson, for providing a lot of really useful information about both tools and tasks and sourcing case studies...

The resource is, deliberately, very straightforward. We stripped out everything non-essential to give students easily digestible, bite-sized introductions to the various things they might want to use these tools for (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Google+, Academia.edu, blogs etc). It's also relatively informal without attempting to be in any way cool or streetwise. I've showed it to some of my students in info skills classes already and it's gone down very positively; I think even students who are very au fait with web 2.0 tools still appreciate some guidance on how to meld the social with the academic and the professional.

So, check out the Students Guide to Social Media, tell us what you think, and if you'd like to steal it, feel free.

 

 

How we made a (pretty nice) virtual Library Tour video for almost no money

NB: This post has been in my drafts folder since September 2012! I never got around to finishing it, but I've done so now because anybody who wants to use a similar approach, there's probably just still time to get your video ready for the new academic year if you start right away... Last year at York we launched our virtual tour of the Library - a new video to replace the physical tours we used to do. Here it is:

(This on my YouTube channel because I don't want to artificially inflate our Library YouTube Channel's viewing statistics by sharing that version on here.) I found doing this video one of the most stressful, tiring and rewarding things I've done in my job... This post is all about how we went about it.

Before we go any further, the first thing to say is the video went down extremely well with students and staff. We got great feedback on it, so I think this method works.

The principles

I watched every single virtual tour video I could find before planning this one, and this gave rise to quite a firm set of principles in mind as to how we'd do ours. There are some really goods tours out there, but every video I saw had at least one element I felt I wanted to avoid... So ours was based on the following:

  • No scripted scenes. This is a video aimed at students - they can be a cynical bunch, and I wanted to avoid any kind of construct or fakery that might annoy them. For example, the camera just 'happening' upon a reference-interview type situation at the desk, or wide shots of people walking to the next part of the tour - you know these are staged, and it influences the way you perceive the film. Our video would be delivered straight to camera, with people telling the viewer how things work, and showing them directly.
  • No librarians on camera. Librarians can be quite bad on camera but that has nothing to do with this principle - we just felt it would be better to have students telling their peers about the Library, rather than us. It's a stronger and more relevant connection.
  • Professionally shot, informally delivered. This was a really hard blend - it had to look professional but it needed to be as informal as possible. So the informality comes from the script, which I encouraged the students featuring in the film to change if need be, so it was more like their natural way of expressing themselves.
  • No big theme, attempts to be funny, or over production. We wanted to avoid anything that would date quickly, or fall flat, or leave us open to accusations we were spending too much money on videos and not enough on resources...
  • No barrier to watching the film. I saw some tours which were QuickTime vids or more sophisticated things than video, but often they needed to be downloaded, or didn't work on certain platforms, or were otherwise tricky to access in some way. This would be a YouTube video, pure and simple. It means we can embed it anywhere, and it's discoverable online.
  • Benefits not AND features. Normally I'd advocate talking about the benefits of something rather than the features - it's marketing rule 101. But in this case, we really do have to tell people about the features of the library because that's what a tour does - so I at least tried to add in some benefits too, hinting at the recent studies showing students who use the library most get the best grades, for example.
  • Short and to the point. I ideally wanted the video to be under 5 minutes - in fact it's around 6-and-a-half because there's a lot of library to cover and we didn't want to sacrifice usefulness for the sake of hitting a particular figure in terms of timings. But it is as short as we could possible make it. .

The people involved

We employed a Marketing Intern specifically to make videos for us (a genius idea by Michelle Blake!) - he was with us for 3 months, working 2 days a week (the maximum allowed). His name was Balam Herrera, he was a Production Postgraduate in the Theatre, Film and Television Department here at York, and he was absolutely brilliant. I managed him and the video project - as well as the Virtual Tour, we made around 15 short films too (more on that in a future post).

(By the way here's Balam's website: www.balamh.com - I can't recommend him highly enough, he was great to work with.)

We also employed students from the same TFTV department, to present. They had camera experience, and knew how to get a lot done in a short space of time - this was vital to the success of the project in my view.

The camera equipment we borrowed from the University's A/V department.

I no longer have the figures to hand (the perils of not finishing off a post for 10 months!) but basically it cost us under £300 to do, between the intern wages and the student presenters. (That excludes my time setting it all up, but we'd be paying for that anyway...)

The process

Putting together this video happened approximately like this. I wrote a script for what I wanted to be said, and sent it round various senior managers and marketing people for approval and changes. I asked the Chair of TFTV's Board of Studies to send round an ad recruiting for presenters on my behalf (more credible coming from him than from the Library). I watched a lot of YouTube videos as a method of auditioning those that applied without taking lots of time out to meet them all, and chose the three presenters you see in the film above. We set a date. I gave Balam the script. He turned it into a proper shooting script - I'll embed it below, and when you see it you'll realise how important it is to have someone who knows what they're doing with film-making! Then Balam did as much of the filming as he could beforehand - all establishing shots, external time-lapse stuff - anything without the students in, essentially.

Then we filmed it, and edited it, and promoted it A LOT.

Filming it

We filmed it in a day. Even though we did it all between 9 - 5 it felt like the longest day of my life! I was completely wiped out by it - but it was fun too. Here's our shooting script - hopefully gives you an idea of the level of planning that went into this:

Library Tour Shooting Script

If you watch the video and compare you can see how things evolved on the day - we didn't stick completely strictly to the plan.

Generally speaking we got things within a few takes - there were no long sections so the students were able to briefly check their scripts before each shot, then deliver their lines. A lot of time was spent re-shooting the same scene from closer in (we only had one camera), or waiting around for people to stop doing noisy refurbishments which were going on in the Library at that time. In the end we got one student back to reshoot a scene a month later because our catalogue changed - 10 points if you can spot the scene in which he's wearing a different top because the one he wore the first time was in his parent's linen basket back home!

Editing it

Editing it took a LOT longer than filming it - Balam did that on his own, and at great speed, but it still took several days. We had, in total, 120 gig's worth of footage! I tried so hard not to be one of those incredibly annoying managers who makes people change tiny things at great length so it was perfect, but I'm afraid that's pretty much exactly what I was like. We had about 4 drafts in the end, but I was completely delighted with the results.

I wrote the music as a temporary measure until we licensed something proper, but then we ran out of time so had to use mine! We also meant to do a separate version with text on the screen, but ran out of time for that too - all of our other videos have text on the screen so they can be watched without the need for sound, but this one just has a link to a transcript, which isn't ideal.

Promoting it

Although a video is in itself a piece of marketing, it still needs to be marketed. So we tweeted about it (and by the way, tweeting a link to something once does not constitute marketing - if it's important, you need to tweet about it at least four times at different time of the day to catch different audiences) a huge amount, we blogged about it, we embedded it on all of our subject-specific libguides, we embedded it on our 'welcome to new students' pages, we played it in Induction sessions, and we emailed key people within departments to ask them to promote it. It's had, at the time of writing, over three-and-a-half thousand views - the stats tell us in real terms it's had 10,700 minutes worth of viewings. It's hard to imagine any other way of getting that much targeted library information into our students! Around 60% of people watch it on YouTube itself, 30% on embedded version in various places around our website, 8% on mobile devices, which is lower than I'd've expected.

If you want to try something similar…

First of all, start soon - now if at all possible! Tap into the local talent - if your HEI has a film studies department, then you have a pool of talented and willing people to help you do this. Prioritise the key videos you want to do and shoot them first. If you can't afford expensive software, Camtasia is really good for live-action stuff as well as screen-capture. Oh and this guide to marketing with video may be useful.

It's really, really important to promote the heck out of your tour. It's so much effort, you can't risk not getting any reward! Promoting it does not mean putting it in the VLE and mentioning it in the news section of the Library website - it means raising awareness as to the video's value via several media at once.

Good luck!

Any questions, leave them below.

 

Repeat after me: host content externally, embed content locally

Reblogged from the Library Marketing Toolkit Modern library websites now have ALL KINDS of content. Where there used to be lots of text and a few images, there's now much more dynamic content. We've got presentations, videos, audio, even embedded documents. This opens up a great opportunity to reach more and varied people.

It is possible to host all this stuff on your own website. But why do that when you can host them externally, and just embed them locally? It will save you an enormous amount of bandwidth, but more importantly, it will make your content infinitely more discoverable. We can't rely on people going right to the Library wesbite; we have to show up in their Google searches too.

As we all know, a lot of people don't know what libraries can do these days. If we host our content elsewhere on the internet, we're going to the people rather than relying on them guessing that the library might be the one to help. We're showing up in their searches. We're appearing on the platforms they frequent anyway. We're boosting our reputation among other libraries.

If you host a video on YouTube it will get views from people browsing that platform, as well as the views it will get embedded in your library website. The same applies for images which, if they're magnificent Special Collections images for example, you could put on Flickr in their own group, and embed them in the Library website (and why not set a up a Tumblr blog or a Pinterest board for them while you're at it?).

If you have Prezi or Slideshare presentations these can be picked up and featured by the hosting sites, leading to an exponentially increased audience. The same goes for PDFs too - host them on Issuu.com (like the new case studies for this website) or Scribd.com and they look good, get a lot more use (because people know what they're getting without having to open a file) and could become featured documents.

The Twitter for research PDF I recently uploaded to Scribd, to my organisation's account, was seen by around 3,000 people in its first two weeks of publication, because Scribd featured it on their homepage. So it was very useful locally, because putting on Scribd meant we could embed it locally making it more useable for our staff and students. But it was also useful internationally because it helped our institution reach a large audience, as a provider of useful guidance in an emerging area.

And what about Library news - why write it on the library website itself when you can host it on a blog and embed the RSS feed on your own site? Basically anything you think of can be hosted externally, embedded locally. What this means is you are AMPLIFYING your content and increasing discoverability - essentially, the work you put into your resources is going to be more richly rewarded.

So, repeat after me! Host externally, embed locally

Echolib / LISNPN / Advocacy: New Year's Round Up

A quick catch-up post for all the stuff I've not mentioned in previous posts but which has happened in the last couple of months.

The Echo Chamber

Lots of echolib stuff has been happening recently. The article I wrote a while ago for Library & Information Update has finished its embargo and so now can be made available - I've been displaying it on the Echo Chamber Netvibes page, but you can also download it in PDF format, here.

Continuing the Stealth Advocising theme from a few weeks back, I created a video version of my If you want to work in libraries... slide-deck. It has some funky hip-hoppy latin music in it that I wrote when I was about 17! Woof. Here it is - as ever, in the interests of spreading the messages far and wide, feel free to use this however you like, embed it wherever, etc etc.

The Slideshare version of this has now been viewed more than ten thousand times, so surely LOADS of those people must be outside the echo chamber, right..?

I also wrote an article for PostLib, the journal for retired librarians! I was really pleased to be asked to do this, I like to see the divide between senior and new professionals being bridged whereever possible. The resultant article is now available: Statistics, the Media and the Library Legacy (PDF) - and owes a big debt to Ian Clark [Thoughts of a Wannabe Librarian] who read it over for me and gave me his approval to use some of his ideas! It mentions the echo chamber in passing - but really the main thrust of it is to note that, if you take combined footfall and internet usage stats, public library use in the UK is actually UP over the last couple of years (quite considerably), contrary to popular reports.

Laura and I will present a new version of the Echo Chamber presentation in Cambridge in a couple of days, to an audience of 200 or so people - the biggest we've spoken to yet, so we're really excited about that.

LISNPN

There's also a couple of articles I wrote about LISNPN, the New Professionals Network, available elsewhere. They're both on CILIP platforms but both are freely available to all - Moving forward together opens Library  Information Gazette in digital form, and The LIS New Professionals Network takes you to CILIP's Information & Advice blog.

Look out for a BIG competition on LISNPN later this month, with a library-related-prize worth literally hundreds of pounds and well worth winning.

Library Routes Project

Remember Library Routes? It's still going! And there's plenty of great entries that have come in in recent months - there's now over 150 contributions from Information Professionals about how they got into librarianship, and their path through the profession. Check it out if you haven't already, or if you've not done so for a while. The project homepage has more than 25,000 views now, so maybe some of those will be from people outside the Echo Chamber too.

Gazette Profile

I was really pleased that Debby Raven featured me in the last but one edition of Gazette, following up on the Essential Careers Advice for New Professionals post. You can read the interview, again via the Digital Gazette magazine platform, here. Incidentally the permanent, to-be-added-to, and containing the wisdom of the people who've commented on the original, version of the Essential Careers Advice post is here on its own page of the blog - check it out and tell if there's anything that needs adding to it. What do you know now that you wish you'd known earlier?

All of these articles are available together on the Papers & Presentations page of my website.

And finally...

I created a hectoring advocacy poster a few weeks back - it's deliberately harsh and provocative, but I do think there is an underlying truth to it.

Poster that says there's no such thing as abstaining from library advocacy

Phew!

- thewikiman