It’s done.

For this Digital Storytelling project, I decided to create a video highlighting what my science program is all about. I’ve collected a huge amount of photos and video from all kinds of activities from every course over the years. I’ve used a lot of photos in my classroom blog, but most of the video has just sat on a portable hard drive taking up space. Until now!

The Premise

As Jeff mentioned, we were encouraged to redesign our parent night presentation and create something more interesting. I wanted to achieve that, but also have something that could be used for a number of other purposes. I think what I’ve put together will be useful to promote the science program at the school, inform potential new families of the types of things that happen and even as future reference for potential new jobs.

Take a look at the final version, be sure to pop it full screen.

How it was made

It’s true that the first few times you do something, it takes much longer as you learn along the way. In my case, I guess I learned an insane amount because I can’t even count the hours this took me. I’ve made a few short videos in iMovie before using the basic features, but this was by far the most involved and time-consuming project to date. One student told me last year that he doesn’t like using iMovie because every video made with it tends to look the same, ‘like an iMovie video’. I know what he meant and I wanted to try and avoid that as much as possible.

After playing around with the text feature, I realized there’s no way I was going to get the effects and content I wanted through that alone. I quickly found that you can use Keynote slides for much more flexibility in making videos. I found the video below, which explains the kind of technique I used for most of the text and graphic elements:

From there, I had to create a title slide and uniform looking slides for the units of my three science courses. I realized too late that I should have just made ONE as a template with all the build ins/build outs and transitions, then just copied and pasted as many as I needed. Instead, I manually adjusted all the builds/transitions for each one. Ouch.

Finding good CC photos through compfight was quite time consuming, especially because they had to fit properly on the 16:9 slides and not mask out the white text too badly, so the unit titles could be read. I liked the way the black text slides came out, with the flying white text and the Matrix-like blue text. None of that would be possible using the text tool in iMovie. One day I may get my hands on Adobe After Effects, but clearly Keynote took care of the job this time.

It’s nice that I could finally use the footage I took driving up Mt. Zao last year. Yes, I actually held my iPhone steady in the front seat for well over 30 minutes. At the time I didn’t know how I would use it, but finally that stiff arm has been justified. As far as the transitions go in iMovie, I’m not sure of I went to heavy on them or not. I used to think Ken Burns was terrible, but compared to still, motionless photos flipping past, I think it gives them a bit more character and keeps the viewers’ eyes engaged.

The music was what I did last. I had the idea all along that I would use Incredibox to create some beatbox tracks to lay over the video. I came across that site last year and thought it was too much fun. Unfortunately, it only lets you build a track length of 3:10 maximum. This meant I had to create three of them and pay about $1 each. That part was a lot of fun — I’m not sure how other people will enjoy it, but I do.

Final thoughts

This was a fun project. I’m a bit surprised I managed to get it done under the wire as I did not leave myself much time. It turned out to be double the required length, but I think that suits the purpose I intended for it. There was plenty more footage that could have been added, but it would just become too much at a certain point and drag on…

Not only did this project get me to a deeper understanding of two pieces of software that I use, it will allow me to create new variations of things both for school and personally.

Any constructive feedback is very welcomed!