Tutorial Video: How to Use the Champaign Public Library Online Catalog

Premise

    For the past 9 months I've been working as a weekly volunteer at the Champaign Public Library, and recently we've been discussing creating some training videos for volunteers. Because volunteers come in more infrequently and because of volunteer turnover, the CPL volunteer coordinator, Kathy Kading, often finds herself re-training volunteers to do some of the most basic volunteer tasks. Having a few short tutorial videos would save her some time and give the volunteers freedom to brush up on their knowledge of how to do volunteer tasks whenever they need to. I volunteered to do a video that would remind volunteers (and perhaps others in the library) how to use the CPL online catalog, especially since the library has recently switched to a new OPAC system. My plan was to use video filming, a screen-capture software, and an accompanying worksheet to accomplish this.

Filming Process
    For a video camera I rented a Sony Handycam (25x optical zoom and up to 30GB of storage) from the GSLIS help desk for a few weeks, along with a tripod. I also used my own hand-held audio recorder, an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder that I purchased in 2008, but I ended up not being able to use it for the video. I started by trying to use Jing for screen-capture, but unfortunately it would not create finished files that I could use in Windows Live Movie Maker. Instead, I signed up for a free one-month trial of Camtasia, which allowed me to save screen captures in a format WLMM would accept, and it had more interesting customization options as well.
    I started by creating a script (which would later become the handout) for the movie, which Afton used while we recorded. For the filming, we also had my audio recorder set to record so I would be able to separate the audio and video more easily later. Because we couldn't install Jing or Camtasia on the library computers, while Afton was being recorded I was using my own laptop to screen-capture what Afton was doing. At some point the library OPAC system crashed, but I was able to play the video that we captured later and do the screen capture at home.
    One of the biggest issues I came up against when filming was trying to find technology and file formats that would all be compatible. My little audio recorder ended up not working at all because it didn't have an output jack, so I spent quite a bit of time trying to use Audacity to capture the audio from the recorder on the microphone in my headset. The sound quality in this process was terrible--it wasn't very high quality before, and it was further garbled when I rerecorded it. I ended up giving up and finding a way to use the audio from the video camera, a process which I'll describe later.
    I also had issues with finding a quality screen-capture software that I could save in a format compatible with WLMM. I ended up using some online YouTube tutorials to find a way to save screen capture with Camtasia in WMV format, which WLMM can handle. Until I realized I could follow along with Afton on my own computer, we also spent a long time trying to contact people at the library that could help us get permission to download a screen capture software on library computers. We never did get permission, but in the future I might try to find a screen capture software that doesn't require downloading (I have since found some, such as Screencast-O-Matic), as the library computers might have allowed us to use that.

Editing Process
    I used the most current version of Windows Live Movie Maker (the 2011 version) to create my movie. I used both the video clips I had captured of Afton describing how to use the OPAC and my own corresponding screen capture. I wanted to have a mixture of both of these visual aspects in the video but with consistent audio, which turned out to be a little tricky to maneuver. I ended up doing all my cutting and pasting of the video until I had the audio part of the video perfect and then saving the whole project as an audio file. Then I opened the video again and imported the audio file into it as music. The first time I did this, the file would not be recognized by WLMM so I downloaded a transcoding software called Switch Sound File Converter, which changed my file into a mp3 file. WLMM recognized this file and I was able to manipulate the video separately from the audio. In this process I learned how important it is to keep track of what part of the video and the audio you are working with--if you split out a part of the audio to move and it is separated from the video, there is no indication of what that audio is when you go back to look for it. The process took a lot of finesse; I learned several tricks for lengthening video (such as by slowing it down or copy and pasting a short video in which little is happening as often as necessary) so that it would match the corresponding audio.
    My next task was to add music to the video. Unfortunately, with WLMM you can only have one audio track at a time, and my audio track was the audio of Afton talking from the video. To get around this I found another YouTube tutorial that walked me through the steps of saving my project in the condition I wanted the final project to look like, just without music, and then importing that video into a blank project. In the new project then, there is room to add audio.
    The music that I found came from Free Music Archives, a site that my friend (who is majoring in film) suggested to me. While it wasn't easy to find a perfect fit for the music I wanted and I had to be extra careful not to violate the Creative Commons copyright rules for the clips I found, I ended up finding something that worked well. I had some trouble downloading the music I wanted in a format that would work in WLMM (again), but using HandBrake I was able to transcode it to a useable file type (mp4).
    The final result is 133 MB and in WMV file format.
    My final result is not perfect--the image quality of the Camtasia shots are really low, there are a few transitions that aren't as smooth as I'd like, and my timing between the audio and the screen capture isn't always exactly aligned--but overall, I learned a lot from the editing process and I know what to do next time I attempt to make a video like this one.

Lessons Learned and Final Product

    While this project was one of the most fun and interesting homework assignments I've done at GSLIS yet, I did encounter some difficulties that I can use as lessons for the future.
1) The more expensive the equipment you use, the better the results will be. Unfortunately, in my case I didn't have a big budget for my video so things like my cheap audio recorder and the free Jing software didn't give me the results that I needed.
2) It's best to be sure that all the files you are working with are compatible with the video editing software you are using. If they aren't, there is probably a transcoder out there that can help you, but it may take some careful searching to find it.
3) I discovered the importance of planning ahead. Knowing what rules and policies the location in which I was working had for video/screen capturing beforehand would have saved me time and energy. I also learned to give myself a lot of extra time in case my original plan doesn't work out (which happened frequently).
4) Most likely there is someone out there who has the same question as you do about using one of these technologies and they have either figured it out and made a YouTube tutorial or asked on a comment board and gotten some advice. It really helped me to seek out and consult these resources.
    After a lot of hard work, I was really pleased to be able to integrate a lot of the concepts about audio, images, and video that we covered this semester into my final product. It's even more satisfying to know that my hard work will be able to benefit the volunteer program at the Champaign Public Library, already proving how practical and valuable this kind of knowledge is for us as future librarians.

finalproject5902.wmv



If the embedded video doesn't work, the link is below.
http://docs.google.com/open?id=0B6pD-rIBZUdTd3FGVlBRN1hjMzg

Sources

Cooper-Moore. "(h) Banjo Arba Minch Garden." Rec. 14 Mar. 2010. 2010. Free Music Archive. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.

"HandBrake." HandBrake. Handbrake Project, 2011. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://handbrake.fr/>.

"Switch Audio File Converter Software." Audio Sound File Converter Software. Convert Wav Mp3 Dvd Midi Flac Dvf Wma Etc. NCH Software. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. http://www.nch.com.au/switch/index.html