In my role as business librarian, I often get email and Teams chat questions that are very challenging to address with a written answer. Rather than attempt to write out a lengthy answer, I will often record a quick demonstration of my computer screen with Screencast-o-matic and just send the student the link to the quick, raw, and unedited video. While this is a quick way to give someone an answer quickly. it’s not very scalable. Generally the video is not polished enough for me feel comfortable about posting on YouTube, so it’s not usually shared beyond the email back to the student.
I changed things up a bit last week, when I received the following from a student:
I would’ve scheduled a meeting, but my schedule is too complicated. The struggle I’m having is that I’m trying to do a deeper dive into the major companies we have in the amusement park industry……Disney, NBC Universal Media, Cedar Fair etc. I’m looking specifically for consumer demographics for their parks, and I need help. Is there a specific one of the sites you’d recommend for the smaller parks like cedar fair and maybe a specific tab from there?
Right before the start of spring semester, I was charged with creating a short instructional film that succinctly explained our COVID safety guidelines to students. This was my first time doing a multi-scene film shoot where I was both the filmmaker and the one being filmed. I shot the entire video solo (although my son held my laptop as a teleprompter). I wanted to record (pun intended) and share what I learned.
The Final Project
Gear I Used
Camera: Sony A6000 mirrorless camera
Manual mode, Wide Metering, Custom white balance, Wide Focus
Lens: Sony 35 1.8 . Used to shoot the talking head shots
Lens: Sony 16-50 : Used to shoot a wider angle shot with me sitting in a study area (1:13), also me at the book pickup location (2:21)
Audio: Lavalier Mic plugged into my Android phone with Recording App
This free video editor is a great tool. It allows you to automatically sync audio from two separate sources.
Gear that would have been nice to have
A few of the shots indoors would have benefited from video lighting, rather than just relying on the available light. Our 2nd floor of the library is quite poorly lit. Lights would have made it much easier to match exposure and white balance across all of the inside clips.
White balance card
I used a piece of white paper to set my custom white balance with each shot. I’ve since purchased a white balance card set.
An external monitor
Having an external monitor to frame, setup and review shots would have helped me identify areas to improve the shot.
What I learned
I learn something new with each project. Here’s what I picked up this time around.
Working with a short deadline
I was given the assignment on Monday, had a script and shot list ready by Tuesday, and filmed and edited on Wednesday. The video was posted to YouTube on Friday, which was my deadline for inclusion in a news story that would be emailed to all students in the campus newsletter. If I had more time, I would have returned to reshoot a few of the clips.
The outside shots at the beginning of the video were bit overexposed. I shot this sequence around 9:30, and this was actually the first sunny morning in many days. If I had filmed the outside shots closer to 7:30 or 8 while the sun was lower, or if it had been a bit more cloudy (as it had for the past week) the exposure would have been a bit easier to get right. In the spring or fall, the leaves from the nearby trees would have helped to diffuse the light as well.
In addition to the outside shots described above, I was also not happy with the shot in the book stacks. I was facing a window, which was ideal, but the shot was still very much over exposed. The cause of this did not seem obvious at the time, but I realized when editing the video what I did wrong. When framing my shots, I had my son stand in for me to frame the shot and set exposure. He was wearing a very dark blue shirt. I wore a light blue shirt. Setting the exposure using him in the frame caused me to be overexposed during the actual recording. Next time we’ll wear similar colors, and I will shoot multiple takes.
I also set the camera light metering to “wide.” While this worked okay for most of my shots, the outside and book stacks shots were overexposed. Next time I will use center-weighted metering for the shots where I am in center of the frame.
Staying in focus
For the shot in front of the book self-pickup area (2:12) I used the Sony 16-50 kit lens as I needed a wider angle for the shot. Unfortunately, the lens decided to focus on the book shelves behind me and the sign to my left, resulting in me being a little fuzzy and out of focus. It’s not bad, but still noticeable. Next time I will set the focal point manually, though this is challenging to do when you are filming yourself.
The Final Take(away)
Unfortunately the video never made it into the all-student email newsletter. The video is posted on our “safe study” page on our website, and has been viewed about 70 times so far. Nevertheless, I learned from the project and got to practice my filmmaking skills. As a matter of fact, I applied what I learned just last week, where I had the opportunity to film a colleague. Learning from prior successes and failures helps to make future projects better. It’s also a lot easier to film someone else!
I let my sons borrow my GoPro a few weeks ago when they went sledding in the back yard. They recorded almost 10 minutes of footage. It was good practice for me to edit someone else’s clips down to a reasonably short video and I had some fun with the cuts.
With the abrupt move to a blend of synchronous and asynchronous online learning for business students for the remainder of the semester, the faculty asked me to record a video for my research session. Here’s my writeup of how this worked out. Perhaps others will find this useful as they develop their own remote teaching plans.
Under normal circumstances, on Monday I should have delivered my business research instructions sessions from my office to over 400 students in the classroom, as I have done in the past with Microsoft Teams. However, with students not on campus and me working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, things are definitely not normal.
Instead of one long, rambling video, I created six videos to divide the content into more manageable chunks. Creating six different videos also allows me to more easily recycle and embed the videos on different pages in my guides. Shorter videos means that students can watch a few videos at a time, and my YouTube analytics seem to confirm this behavior.
Usually I like to do a personal on-camera introduction with each of my videos where I introduce the content. This is important for me so that students recognized the face (and the expert) behind the voice on the screencast. Since these videos were all part of the same page, I decided to just record a general introduction to students for the first video, where I give them a little pep talk and discuss ways to connect for research help. The other four videos are demonstrations of how specific databases can be used for the personal fitness industry project. I posted all videos on a page for the specific guide I made for the semester project. The final 6th video was another pep talk vlog encouraging them to ask questions if they needed help.
I recorded and edited the videos with Screencast-o-matic using a Jabra Evolve 65 headset for audio. The audio is not as good as with the Blue Yeti mic, but it’s serviceable. You may notice a slight lip sync issue with the on-camera shots, but I believe I have that figured out for the next time. I created the custom images for the videos using YouTube templates in Canva ( the free version).
Finally, I created six simple quiz questions that faculty assigned in Blackboard. All told I have about four hours in the creation of the guide page, the videos, and the quiz questions.
Did they watch?
Well, right now, the jury is still out as my analytics are a bit confusing. According to Google Analytics, the guide page has 379 unique views since Monday. That seems to line up with the total number of 350 students, plus a few serendipitous hits from other people (perhaps faculty?). I’m basing my analytics on the past two days, as the quiz was due in Blackboard by midnight last night.
Here’s what YouTube Analytics says:
The top video was viewed 280 times.
The least viewed video was viewed 63 times, but it didn’t contain critical content. It was more of a “you got this” and “I’m here to help” vlog and was posted late in the day on Monday.
Average percentage viewed was 72.81. This is not bad considering that my channel lifetime average for view percentage is around 40 percent.
I’m a little disappointed that my “Analyze the Local Fitness Market” video (in purple below) did the poorest of the bunch. I think the resource that I demonstrate, SimplyAnalytics, is the most important tool for their project. This was my longest video at ten minutes in length, while the others were less than five.
Unfortunately the data does not show that each student watched every video and that is a bit disappointing. However, it is helpful to consider that for each project, business cluster students work together in teams of four to six students. I have seen this play out in how they conduct research. For example, on my guide I might suggest four resources for understanding personal fitness consumers. Typically the team will divide up the resources so that only one student looks at a resource. They follow the same behavior when writing the final paper or creating the presentation; each student takes a section and does their part. Unfortunately this usually makes the paper or presentation look and read like it was literally pieced together, but faculty have been doing their best to discourage this practice. One theory in the video views is that the teams divided up the videos among the members in their typical divide-and-conquer strategy and completed the quiz through collaborative effort.
I will say that I am very pleased with the average percentage viewed for the videos. This tells me that those who did watch the videos watched most of the content. Even the lowest percentage watched video (at 53.6% of total viewed) is higher than the YouTube relative audience retention of similar length videos. So that’s not bad at all.
My highest percentage viewed video outperformed the YouTube average for similar length videos. That’s pretty cool!
Ideas for next time
For next time, some ideas that I might consider:
Do the shorter videos work if we want all students to watch all of the content?
Would they watch a longer 20-30 minute video if they couldn’t easily divide the work among the team members? How would this affect the total percentage of the video watched?
Or in the case of my 10 minute video, should that have been separate videos no longer than 3 minutes each?
Did having 6 videos make it too easy for the teams to divide up the work?
Also of note is that I was crunched for time and my usual production value and edits suffered. I probably could have trimmed 30-60 seconds off of each video with additional edits or takes.
Were the quiz questions too easy? Should I have provided more quiz questions? Ideally they’d watch all of the videos just because their faculty told them too and that the content would help make their research easier.
Will the students come back to the videos throughout the remainder of the semester? Will they watch videos that they missed? Will they re-watch videos?
I also need a better understanding of YouTube and Google Analytics. Seeing as how I’ll be working from home for a bit, I’ll have plenty of opportunity for learning and improvement.
All told, the viewership across the six videos for the past two days totals 58 hours of total watch time. That’s impressive and demonstrates something to build on for more remote/online learning projects.
If you’ve read this far, what are your thoughts? Have you done any similar analysis to your online guides, tutorials, or other learning objects? If so, leave a comment or reach out for further discussion.
Today I did a count of my videos, and discovered that I created 27 business research videos and 21 library-related videos (like the ones I post on this blog) in 2009. My business research videos were viewed over 2600 times, and the more general library videos have been viewed over 4200 times. Most of my videos took less than an hour to produce, from start to finish, so the return on investment is quite huge. It’s good to know that something that takes so little effort to put together is getting used so frequently. For me, web video offers a great way to reach my users.
I’m in the process of putting together a series of blog posts on how I use and create web video, including services, tools, and more. Hopefully librarians and others will find the information useful. Look for the posts coming soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions about web video, please leave a comment.
Because it’s growing by leaps and bounds, that’s why!
“The number of unique viewers of online video<a href=”http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/total-viewers-of-online-video-increased-5-year-over-year/”> increased 5.2% year-over-year according to The Nielsen Company</a>, from 137.4 million unique viewers in January 2009 to 142.7 million in January 2010.”? I’d like to think that a few of my videos that I created in the last year have contributed to a growth in that number.
Yesterday I did a count of my videos,and discovered that I? created 27 business research videos and 21 library-related videos in 2009. My business research videos were viewed over 2600 times, and the more general library videos have been viewed over 4200 times. Most of my videos took less than an hour to produce, from start to finish, so the return on investment is quite huge.? It’s good to know that something that takes so little effort to put together is getting used so frequently.? For me, web video offers a great way to reach my users.
The FlipShare software that comes with the Flip cameras allows you to do some really cool things with ease. One of the features it has is the ability to let you easily upload a video to YouTube from the FlipShare menu. It’s a convenient feature that doesn’t require the user to open aweb browser and go digging for the file.
Unfortunately, uploading a video to YouTube this way can have negative affects on the video, particularly the sound. As an example, take a look and listen to the following video. This video was uploaded with the FlipShare software.
Now watch and listen to this video, which was uploaded via the YouTube website by browsing to the raw AVI file on my desktop.
In the second video, you will notice that I don’t sound like I’m talking underwater, as I do in the first video. The sound in the second video is clear, but the first video the sound is quite garbled or hissy.
In looking at the screenshot above, it appears that FlipShare or YouTube does something to the file when it is uploaded via the FlipShare program. The raw AVI file is changed into a file named Video 67, and for some reason it does not have a file extension. This file name change could be the result of the compression that the FlipShare program uses, and the result is degraded audio that has a slight hiss. I have no idea what causes this, but my only advice would be to upload your Flip videos via the YouTube website, rather than through the FlipShare program.
This video is a very creative use of webcams, videos, and creative storyboarding and scripting. This appears to be some kind of music video. According to Adverblog, “the cast was selected from the actual Sour fan base, from many countries around the world. Each person and scene was filmed purely via webcam.”