Library Gazette

New Video Efforts

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:58 pm

One of my goals for my first year is to do a complete refresh of all of the content in the Toolkit. In my role serving online students, I understand the power of video in teaching library tools and selling the library as the place to go for research assistance, technology training, and self-help. Having a digital space like the Toolkit–a centralized location for all of our video and other digital learning objects–is incredibly valuable for reaching students and faculty both on campus and online. However, when a space like the Toolkit starts to show its age, we risk losing a bit of credibility. For as much power as they have, videos quickly become outdated as web interfaces or link paths change. It’s also no secret that we’re bound by constraints on our time, so producing video of high production quality often takes a back seat, resulting in videos that look outdated before their time.

So, to help restore the Toolkit to its former glory and to put in place more sustainable workflows, I’ve started using Camtasia Studio to create what I hope are high-polish, ZSR-quality videos that will stand the test of time. I just finished my first one–a teaser video for Zotero–and wanted to share how I did it.

Scripting

With any video project, I find it’s much easier to get the audio down first and make it perfect before worrying about capturing video. I’m not one for improv, so that means writing a script first and paring it down to what’s really essential to get the message across. Our users don’t expect elaborate, drawn-out explanations; they’re watching the video because they hope it will save them time. If the content requires a video much longer than two minutes, it should probably be split into two separate videos. So to keep things brief, I scripted and timed myself rehearsing the script. I kept paring it down until I was comfortably under two minutes, and only then was it finally time to record.

Audio Recording

The scripting and audio recording take up the bulk of the time, but I’d argue that they’re the most important parts. Even the shiniest video will be ignored if there’s annoying background noise or if the speaker is rambling or talks too quickly or too quietly. I used Camtasia to record myself reading through the script twice three four times, then cut and spliced the best parts into the final audio track. So the video doesn’t feel quite so librarian-sitting-in-an-office-talking-at-you, I used a royalty-free guitar track that came packaged with Camtasia to add some interest.

Screen Recording

Now that I had the audio ready to go, it was pretty easy to record the screen. Screen capture is really what Camtasia was made to do, and it does it beautifully. All I had to do was mentally map out my mouse clicks, record a few run-throughs of each “scene,” and I was ready to edit.

I want to note here the significance of recording audio and video separately. One of the major weaknesses of using free, web-based screen recorders like Jing is that you can’t separate the audio from the video; that is, when something in your video changes, like a database interface, you have to re-record the entire video to bring your video up to date. By separating the audio and video, I can feasibly use the same audio track and only update those portions of the video that need updating, saving tons of effort in the long run.

Editing, Callouts, and Text

To bring everything together, I had to manipulate the video clips to match up with the audio. Because this particular video was more of a teaser and not intended to be a “how-to,” I sped up the video clips to keep everything flowing quickly. I focused the user’s attention with some appropriate zooming and panning, then added photos, text, and colored backgrounds when there was no video to display. You’ll notice I like big, bold text that’s readable even on the smallest smartphone screen.

Accessibility Concerns

Finally, to make the video accessible to those with hearing impairments and to those who might not have a pair of headphones in a quiet room, I added a caption track that the user can turn on and off in YouTube. Camtasia makes this almost absurdly easy: all I had to do was copy and paste my transcript into my project, then Camtasia guided me through time-stamping the caption track to sync with the audio.

Looking Ahead

I plan on working my way through the content on the Toolkit as determined by the needs of the online counseling program. I already have planned an entire series of Zotero tutorials, followed by tutorials for the PsycInfo and PubMed databases. If you have ideas for videos I can add to my queue, or if you have a special project in mind, I’m all ears. I hope you enjoy!

 

Toolkit Day!

Friday, August 14, 2009 8:42 am

As the Toolkit continues to grow and have more applications, Kevin and I are taking a day to focus some energy on getting it in tip-top shape for the new school year.

For new folks to ZSR: the Toolkit is a service we provide to allow users to find help they need through our website. They can access it when we’re not here, or when they’re just looking to find the answer on their own. The Toolkit is comprised of a number of tools, which are very short narrated videos walking patrons through specific tasks. These videos can be accessed from the Toolkit, but also embedded in Blackboard, Libguides, and other websites.

Today is Toolkit day, and we invite you to stop on by to make a tool for the collection. Starting at 11:00am, at least one of us will be in our offices, with some Starbucks pastries, in case anyone wants to stop by and make one. We have two stations set up and ready to go, so you don’t even need to bring your ThinkPad.If you’d rather just phone us, we’ll make office-calls, too. If you’re new to the process, but want to see how it’s done, we have a page about it in the library wiki.

If you want to participate, but don’t have a tool in mind, we have a wish list of tools we’d like:
a picture for a work blog post
The “wanted” tools are requests that haven’t been created yet, and the “update” are tools referring specifically to our classic catalog interface, that should be duplicated in the new Vufind interface. We’ll be updating the list all day, so stop by to see the current wanted/update list!

By recording a tool, you’ll also be contributing to a PRIMO recognized project! Earlier this year, Susan recommended we nominate the Toolkit for PRIMO recognition, and we just found out that it was added to the list. PRIMO is a committee of the ACRL Instruction Section that was created to promote and share peer-reviewed instructional materials created by librarians. From their website: “The PRIMO Committee hopes that publicizing selective, high quality resources will help librarians to respond to the educational challenges posed by still emerging digital technologies.”

So, if you want to make a tool, have questions about the technical side, or have questions about the instructional design side, stop by and have a Starbucks pastry! We’re happy to help in any way we can! Here’s hoping that by the start of fall we have many new tools!

Introducing the ZSR Toolkit!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 2:35 pm

You may or may not have heard of the Toolkit, a new way of offering information literacy tutorials for our users. I’m really, really excited about this project, as I think it’s a way to meet our user’s needs in a way that fits with their expectations, potentially could help us to prepare better instructional materials, and it could provide us a way to streamline some of our work. What’s not to be excited about?

Last week I gave a session on the what, why, and how of the project. And I’m giving another one tomorrow at 4:00 in 476. Wanna come? You can still register here! Want to see what we’ll cover before attending? Here it is:

Are you interested now? :) You can still register here! Seriously, though, if you’re interested in the project, or would like to contribute, let me know. I’m happy to talk with you one-on-one if you can’t make the session.


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