Reading and note making video tutorial

After the success of the first Learning Development video tutorial, What it means to be a “critical student”, I have recently supported the team to produce the second in this series, Reading and note making, featuring our favourite characters The Jelly Baby Men.

The content of the was written and narrated by Carol Edwards, which she record on Audacity. My role was to interrupt her narrative to produce the visuals and produce the final video. In this post I’ll discuss how I achieved this, reflect upon some lessons learnt and tips and tricks picked up along the way.

The visual were all produced in MS Powerpoint, using a combination of the standard shapes and animation effects (some 667 individual animations in total). The two toughest scene to produce were the Supermarket scene and the student reading in the library. Here is how they were produced.

The scene in the supermarket is actual two slides, on the first slide the student moves along the shelf, as the product fall into his trolley.

This picture shows the sequence of animations to produce this:

Animation used to for student shoppingThe scene is made up of 9 versions of the student, whose trolley has a new product attached with each new occurrence (labeled (1) to (9) in the image), and 8 shopping products (labeled (a) to (h) in the image). The sequence of the animations is:

  1. The student (1) moves in a straight-line left
  2. The product (a) moves in a curved path from the shelf
  3. Simultaneously the student (1) and the product (a) disappear
  4. A new version of the student with the product in the trolley (2) appears

This sequence is repeated 8 times.

The second part of the Supermarket scene, or what I call the Scooby-Doo scene, the background shelf moves and the student with the trolley remain still.

This is made up of 4 versions of the self, 12 products (a associated objects) and 1 versions of the student.

This is the sequence of animations that made up this animation:

  1. Shelf (1) move straight to the left
  2. Simultaneously Shelf (1) disappears. Shelf (2), product (a) and (b) appear. (a) is a broccoli and (b) is the box containing it. The box (b) is required because the broccoli (a) that appears in front of the shelf (2), and would seem to be floating without the additional box (b) in-front of it.
  3. Broccoli (a) moves in a curved path into the trolley
  4. Simultaneously (a) disappears and (c) appears in the trolley
  5. Shelf (2) moves left
  6. Simultaneously Shelf (2) disappears. Shelf (3), carrots (d) and box (e) appear. These then animate in the same way as the broccoli.

This process continues to Shelf (4) and the final objects (g), (i) and (k) animate into the trolley from a statioanary shelf.

The other scene that was complicated to produce was the motion of the books moving, as the student studies in the library.

This is seems like quite a simple scene, however it took a while to work out how to create the effect of a book opening, here how I achieved it:

The key to this is the ‘Stretch’ and ‘Collapse’ effect on (3), that make the cover of the book appear to be opening. For the pencils (b) and (d), two a required to generate the effect of writing and naturally moving the pencil back to the start of the next line.

As you can imagine creating effects with this detail requires using a large number of individual shapes and can get quite complicated to get groupings and ordering right on the slide. Thankfully during this project I discovered the Selection and Visibility Pane feature of PowerPoint, accessible via Drawing Tools tab on 2007 version.In the screenshot below you can see how the objects on the Supermarket slide were arranged. On the left are two panes: Selection and Visibility and Custom Animation.

The usefulness of the Selection and Visibility Pane is it enables you to give shapes custom names. PowerPoint automatically gives each shape a default name e.g Square 5, Flowchart shape 6 or Group 342, which makes them hard to differentiate. However by giving a Group of object a custom name like Man 1 in my example above makes this much easier. This also really helps when ordering and sorting custom animations, as the custom names are reflected in the Animation Pane.

The Selection and Visibility Pane is also really helpful when creating and working upon overlapping objects, as the Pane enables you to hide objects or make them temporarily invisible. The final thing it is really helpful for is ordering of objects. When you right click on a PowerPoint Shape you can select ‘Move to back’ of ‘Send back’ etc. with no real understand of which objects sit on top of one-another. The Selection and Visibility Pane enables you to easily track this ordering.

Screenr capture

Anyway that’s quite enough about PowerPoint, to make the video I used Screenr, I’ve discussed this tool before, but to recap it is probably one of the best web-applications around, as it enables you to very quickly create screen captures. Simple activate the Java application, place the frame over the area of screen you want to capture and press record. The screenshot below shows how it appears on the screen.

There are a couple of tips I would suggest when capturing a PowerPoint:

  1. In Slide Show Step Up ensure the ‘Use hardware graphics acceleration‘ is enabled. This will ensure the animation is as smooth as possible
  2. When viewing a PowerPoint show you as a default you get the Pointer tools appear in the bottom corner of the slide
    These will also be captured by Screenr, which is slightly unsuitable for this type of resource. To remove them, in Slide show view, right click on them and select Pointer Options – Arrow options – Hidden. Pointer options
  3. Set your screen to the correct resolution for your final video. On the Screenr capture their are preset sizes for standard video, 1280×720 being the largest option. If your screen resolution is larger than this you will have to manually size the frame, I did this for this video and it has created some issues, I will describe shortly.
Final cut sequence settings

The output is hosted on Screenr, also can be uploaded to YouTube or downloaded as an MP4. I do the latter as this enables me to edit the footage using Final Cut. In Final Cut I can sync the exported audio from Audacity with the MP4 visuals. When I originally captured the visuals on a 1680×1050 digital display, I set the screenr frame size to 1676×942, this is obviously not a standard size of video, therefore when importing in to Final Cut the image was resized and reduced the quality. Therefore ensure you follow tip 3!

Having recapture the visual at an appropriate size, I edited the clip, setting the Final Cut Sequence Settings exactly the same as the captured MP4, as shown here.

The great thing about Final Cut is the visuals and the sound can both be completely edited, therefore the original capture doesn’t have to match. Infact I did numerous, cuts and freeze frames to complete this. When the final edit was complete, I exported it using my standard YouTube settings and uploaded it to YouTube.

how ever one thing is troubling me, for some reason the is a black board around the entire video, if someone knows how to get rid of this it would be much appreciated.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the clips and the Learning Development team get a lot of use out of it.



1 Comment

  1. This is great – really good work! I’ve been meaning to blog about how I put the critical student one together – now I don’t have to – you’ve explained it much better that I could! How are the LD team going to promote it? I think it’s a really useful resource and needs promoting as much as possible when essay season begins Well done 🙂


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