Wednesday 30 November 2011

South West HE STEM project presentation by the Hydrographic Academy

I attended a Hydrographic Academy (HA) presentation today with the HA (Plymouth team) of learning technologists and content developers. It's a show and tell of Plymouth University HE STEM awards. Dr Richard Thain showed other Plymouth University academic staff, managers and also
Ruth Waring Development Officer for Higher Skills (SW Region) what we had been up too so far. It's a very busy time, I have to confess that the team has been working at full speed for quite some time and we are in the process of finalising the 'offline' bespoke user interface, it's been a bug testing experience but the learning technologist team has been working fantastically to ensure the end user is happy with the final product. The presentation also included some fun animations created by Luke Denner showing the needs of those persons in the Hydrographic industries to learn on the job. There were glimpses of the various elements of the interface the students will see, we were all very pleased with the positive feedback. Thank you to Prof Jim Griffiths (Head of School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences/Associate Dean, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Technology)) for introducing the sessions and Donella Bone for organising the meeting so well!

Friday 25 November 2011

Welcome videos from the Hydrographic Academy

Myself and the team put together a couple of videos for the Hydrographic Academy 'Learning Zone' Offline interface. These were a couple of welcome messages for the students. Why? This course will be predominately offline digital learning content, students are not likely to meet their tutors! It's rather important to enhance the overall learning experience that students actually know what their trainers look like.

The entire footage was filmed on a Canon 550D with a 50mm prime lens. I used a Zoom H1 fed into the microphone socket of the 550D, using a -25db attenuation cable (its a line to mic socket) I chose the 50mm for its excellent light transmission, as the lighting was standard florescent and ISO values was pushing into the graining 800-1600 area which is less desirable on this DSLR. We did not have access to additional lighting. Jon Scott (Learning Technologist) chose the location which was a video conference suite here at Plymouth University, hence the background image of Plymouth Sound. Sadly the room suffers from a noisy air-conditioning unit that can't be turned off. However, I was able to remove the background noise in post using a combination of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 and Adobe Audition CS5. When I get the chance I intend to blog about how this was achieved. Hope you enjoy the videos.

This tutorial from YouTube is particularly good at showing how to use Audition to clean up noise in Premiere Pro CS5.5:

Wednesday 23 November 2011

JISC Digital Media: Making better videos: Planning Your Video Production

Planning Your Video Production - Location planning from JISC Digital Media on Vimeo.

I attended a short but informative session today hosted by JISC Digital Media. It was all about making better videos. I make videos myself and advise academic staff on how best to create their own 'vodcasts'. However, its one of those areas that everyone needs to keep up to date, with its changing trends and approaches to what constitutes good practice. Granted the main principles stay the same...

I was pleased to see a very structured framework from preparing scripts (storyboards) right through to hiring extra crew. I've yet to do the hiring in extra crew bit, but that certainly is something to consider for bigger productions. We are fortunate here at Plymouth University to have our own media services and some willing fellow Learning Technologists thrown in... However, I would recommend attending a few of these sessions just to get into the mindset of producing films. The above video gives some handy insights and tips, its worth a look!

The highlight was listening to Steve Bowles from Eye Witness Productions. Steve has a fair amount of television productions so his angle on the production process was invaluable. I have to add a comment that was made during the question time, something that I often advocate, to quote Steve Bowles: 'a video should be as short as it can be - test on people you know before the main audience'

Thank you to Zak Mensah and others at JISC Digital Media for putting this together, I will look forward to similar productions!