Video Projects

Video projects are a fun, but potentially difficult part of Mr. Smith's classes. This page exists to give you some tips.

Destination is a big projector screen

The overriding theme here is that your project should be arranged to create an experience on a large projector screen; any other formats like showing to your friends on your phone are secondary. Those screens actually have lower resolutions than modern smartphones, but are otherwise good for theatrical experiences.

Have a plan, and write it down

The more complex your video and the more people it involves, the more important this is. Split your video into scenes and write out scripts for each scene as well as other directions if you are not the only one involved in production. Have someone else look over what you wrote to give you constructive feedback.

Your smartphone is probably a good video source

Your phone camera is probably really good at recording video. In a pinch, you could use your laptop camera for some shots though the quality will be significantly lower. If you are in a group, use the best phone camera available; newer flagship smartphones from Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Google etc. will record fantastic video. 1080p quality is fine, or even lower if you want because the screen this will show on isn't super high resolution.

Record in Landscape Mode

This means your phone should be wider than it is tall (some would say "sideways" or "on its side," not the way you normally hold your phone to use it) when you record video. It's probably the #1 frustration when receiving projects, because it's not going to be seen on a phone screen in portrait mode (taller than it is wide). If you don't do this, we will all see your video in a narrow strip in the middle of the screen with large black bars around it.

Consider audio quality when you record

If you record video in a noisy environment, you are going to have a lot of background noise in your result. This can be OK if it is appropriate background noise or if you are not going to use the original audio, but hearing voices over wind noise or traffic can be tough. Because a lot of your video will probably be people talking, this matters.

Editing: OK on your phone, probably better on a computer

Editing is a key component of a good project because it helps with when to cut from one clip to another, whether to use transitions, titles at beginning or end, music and sound effects and much more. A good rule of thumb is that you should spend about half the time of a good project doing the editing. There are pretty good apps out there for phone video editing, although many of the better ones cost money. Keep in mind that phone video editing is usually pretty slow, and will eat up a lot of your storage space. Another option is editing software on your computer like Windows Movie Maker (available free on the DiGiN laptops through the Software Center) or iMovie (available on Macs), as well as even more powerful editing software. If you have messy or challenging audio, consider cleaning it up with a tool like Audacity (help is available for this). Remember to actually produce your movie when done (turn it into a single file, often called Publish or Export or Save Movie in editing software); this will create one single very large file. You will know this is the right file when opening it will play the movie outside of your editing software.

One newer option for editing is some new websites that let you edit for free, using basic techniques. One such place is Adobe Spark, which looks pretty cool from what I have seen. Or you could even use websites that let you make custom animations, such as PowToon.

Transferring video files: email/text/messaging bad, flash drives and cloud storage good

When you need people to send you their video files, or when you are done with your project and need to turn it in, be aware that these files are very large. If you edited on your phone you will have a large file on your phone and can connect it directly to a computer with a cable to transfer that file. Above all, don't email video files or send them via text message or messaging app: they are super large and will either not send, can't be downloaded, or (worse) will send in super-compressed, low-resolution format which is going to look terrible. Use cloud storage solutions like OneDrive (you have an account through the school), Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox etc. to send large files to other people. Or go old school and put them on flash drives.