Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

Saucing the stew: Streaming video chunks.

August 7, 2008

integrating videostreaming in trade skills training
Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry
This topic was discussed at a VeMentoring videoconference on 8th July 2008. Stream the archived recording (1 hour) in the Videolinq Mediasite presentation catalogue.

Adding ingredients.
Recently, I had the opportunity to present trade skill processes in streaming video. I helped to produce eight video streams – each video stream accompanied with an annotated PowerPoint presentation, and voice-over added – with little video recording and production experience.

The video streams address the geographically-spread Queensland stone industry. Additionally, the products are as accessible in the TAFE classroom as they are at home or in the workplace.

Guided by Stonemasonry industry training package specifications, each video stream is a discrete learning object addressing a separate learning need. Lessons are created by linking streams with other relevant materials.

The project provided exposure to skills necessary for creating further video streams. Feedback from students suggests that video streaming is a powerful way to access information – adding flavour to traditional TAFE learning.

I have not yet sought industry feedback, but the bite-sized chunks are aimed at their immediate business needs. The content can easily be adapted to suit any trade skill situation – although our video clips were produced in the TAFE stonemasonry workshop, they could just as easily have been made in any industry location.

The taste test.
Video streaming addresses the senses: Sight, Hearing, Touch… if only we had Smelevision. TAFE Queensland’s Videolinq video streaming hosted at Mediasite is just right for visual learning – clear, sharp slide images, and a video viewing window that fills the whole screen at a touch. Clickable buttons allow learner interaction. Just for fun, I suggest that the fast & slow video selectors could be re-labelled: give the teacher HELIUM and give the teacher VALIUM.
When TAFE Queensland Videolinq manager Paul Crosisca generously offered the stonemasonry team some time with videographer Daniel Hausin, my colleagues Michael & Daniel and I arranged to video record hands-on activities. Paul stressed the need for high-resolution video files which, when compressed for streaming, would pass the taste test.

The streaming media give learners a chance to respond to review questions, answer opinion polls and go to related websites. Using a mouse during a presentation, learners choose to jump forward or back by slide, even leaping to other streams. Narrating each slide adds a professional touch to the presentation. The narrative replaces blocks of text which can be so off-putting for trade skill students. Here then is a chance to present detailed statistical information about the topic while learners’ eyes and hands are occupied.

Integrating video streaming in the trade skills classroom.
The trade skills training workshop is a safe place for students to explore new techniques. Trained instructors lead apprentices to discover a broad range of techniques that underpin all of their workplace activities.

In the trade skills classroom, video is a useful way to present trade skills because it effectively engages students, particularly when it is accompanied with close-up images and a narrative. Linking video streams to the SkillsTech Australia Learning Management System provides re-usable classroom resources that can also be accessed remotely. Logged in to the LMS, students will be able to choose from a menu to review information presented via classroom computers. Likewise, students with Internet access in the workplace or at home can pre-view activities in upcoming classes.

Stirring the pot.
Videostreaming offers a way to link with employers in the stone industry. Through Videolinq, supervising tradesmen have a window into the TAFE training workshop, and skill assessment candidates can be informed about skills in which they will be examined.

In front of the video camera in the stonemasonry workshop, we hoisted, split, cut and then dressed a sandstone block, demonstrating a series of process skills while Daniel Hausin recorded our actions. We carried on as if we were training students in our normal way. This approach made editing difficult later on; however, it was a necessary start point for our learning.

video streaming by you.

Video streaming trade skills: link to the st0nemas0nry Flickr image

Editing video data.
After we had finished, Daniel Hausin sent the ‘raw footage’ to Videolinq in Mackay for uploading. From Mackay, Paul arranged a videoconference and I took part in the editing process from Brisbane. When the video editing was completed, I received a link to each video stream web location so that I could then prepare appropriate PowerPoint slides.

Preparing slides.
This blog update journals the process I used to create PowerPoint slides from original video footage. The slides display screen-captures of the streaming video. The large, sharp close-ups emphasise every point being made in the smaller video screen. To create slides, I screen-captured the scene each time the activity changed, noted the time on the streaming video clock and then added a heading. Doing this gave me a clue for planning storyboards – more about that later.

Slide headings and timings.
The slide heading laconically describes the activity happening in the video screen, and a voice recording – narrated to fit the length of the slide – provides a detailed explanation. After the slide headings are created, they are copied to a separate document which lists the timings for each slide. This arrangement mimics the slide layout used by the Videolinq team to arrange the slides, in that a space near each heading provides room for text which is voice-recorded and added to each slide.

Slide narration.
Narrating each slide further engages learners’ attention, combining visual and auditory stimulation. As suggested by my Ve-Mentor Karen Fainges, I use a USB headset with my Windows voice recorder.

Feedback from students about my first voice-recording efforts included: “professional… fills the gap… robot-voice.” I made a note to include more expression while enunciating my words. Videolinq staff suggested that I speak more naturally and use less emphasis on small words such as “the” and “in.” With an ear for improvement, I now listen to professional presenters more closely.

Videolinq’s streaming video presentations offer a degree of learner interactivity. Students choose to either play the video from beginning to end without interruption, or they can increase or reduce the playing speed to focus on bits of information most important to them. The slides offer a way to “chunk” information according to the slide timings – the student can quickly reach relevant information by “clicking through” the slides. Both the slide screen window and the video window zoom to fill the screen at a click.
The Poll tool gives feedback from learners about the presentation to the presenter. There is an “ask” button which opens a blank email addressed to the presenter, and links can also be added at the bottom of the page.

The next phase.
Future video presentations won’t be undertaken in the same manner as described above. Simply recording workshop activities does not provide a quality product because there are processes happening during a physical demonstration that are communicated differently in a video presentation. As an example, the fact that eye protection is worn during a demonstration would need to be heavily emphasised in the video version with specific references and clear images of the type of goggles required. Additionally, it was unclear how much time should be given to editing the raw footage – this task was made difficult because of the ‘streaming’ nature of the physical activity. Planning each ‘chunk’ more carefully will dramatically lessen editing time.

Planning streaming presentations.
Producing the eight video streams ‘opened a door’ for me. After spending a considerable amount of time ‘chunking’ a flowing stream of information into discrete headings, I was then able to scan the list of competencies in the stonemasonry qualification and briefly describe an activity for each one that would be suitable for video presentation. I found that the key to planning a trade skills video presentation is storyboarding – something with which I had previously struggled.

Separating bulk video footage into discrete elements is very time consuming. It is important that ‘chunking’ is considered before recording so that activities can be separated. I aim to produce the next set of storyboards simply by getting one of my teaching colleagues to demonstrate a process (topic) while I photograph the steps. Each image will provide the basis for a PowerPoint slide, with a header briefly describing the activity (subtopic). After this, the list of headings will be copied to a blank document with provision to record timings and a fuller description. The description in this way becomes a guide for each video chunk, and a basis for the voice-over, added later.

Videolinq video streams as an integral training tool.
Used as a training tool, Videolinq video streaming is a simple, practical way to satisfy both classroom and remote trade skills delivery. The streams are relatively easy to create and publish, and are readily customized to suit industry training needs. I believe that video streaming is a useful tool for TAFE trade skills practitioners looking to spice up their delivery.


Editing screen captures for video streaming:

July 19, 2008

Scrn cptr

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

I had earlier described creating .jpg format images with PowerPoint to insert into video clips. It is handy to recall this technique to bolster streaming video clips with PowerPoint slides.

Video streaming:
TAFE Queensland Videolinq hosts streaming video of stonemasonry processes and techniques. The video is viewed in an Internet browser window together with a PowerPoint slideshow.

The slides are required to accompany about an hour of edited video clips on several topics. Streaming from the Videolinq server, the slides help to describe the moving images, as well as giving the viewer a break from staring at the adjacent video viewing window.

Copying the screen:
The screen captures are sourced from the original high-resolution video data that has been copied to CDROM. Using a media player to play the video, it is paused at appropriate points – pressing the “Print Screen” key on the keyboard copies the screen image to the Windows clipboard.

Pasting the screen capture:
Opening a new PowerPoint presentation, a series of new blank slides are created to receive the screen captures. The screen is ‘dumped’ by clicking on the slide and pressing Ctrl + V

Re-sizing the image:
The image captured from the screen (4 x 3) is conveniently proportioned to suit a PowerPoint slide (10 inches x 7.5 inches). However, the image will probably also include unwanted bits like toolbars and screen icons. Dragging the nodes at the corners of the selected image extends the image outside the slide’s viewing area. In ‘normal view’, a preview of the end result is displayed in the left hand pane. This technique is also useful for zooming in on details.

Annotating slides:
PowerPoint is useful for adding bits such as block arrows and Word Art. This helps to explain what’s happening in the video clip in simple terms.

Compressing the file size:
Because the slide show is meant to be viewed on a screen, the images can be compressed to reduce the file size. Select any image in the presentation and double click (or single right click) to format the picture. There is a “Compress Picture” option in the “Picture” tab – click on this and choose to reduce “All Pictures” to “Web Screen” resolution (96 dots per inch).

Using PowerPoint to manipulate images

March 5, 2008

Stone carving class 2

Originally uploaded by st0nemas0nry

This photo montage was the result of an accidental discovery. That is, a PowerPoint slide fits nine 3×4 photos sized two and a half inches high and three inches wide.

The Method:
Group select and import nine images into a PowerPoint slide.
While they are still grouped, resize them all to two and a half inches high.
Ungroup the selection and distribute eight of them evenly around the slide’s edges, leaving one image in the centre.
Colour the slide’s background to either mask or complement the images. This will help to cover any gaps between them.
Save the slide as a JPEG, and upload to Flickr.

Don’t forget to add the image to your favourite group’s photo pool and then use it to frame a blog post.