Someone showed me a video tutorial and asked me “ok, so how did they do that?” Well, I can guess, but using the tools we have available readily, I made something that looks identical.
Here is a screen capture using Kaltura through Blackboard. I set up templates using Illustrator and PhotoShop and then I wrote into the program using a Bamboo writing tablet.
The tablet is difficult to control and I spent a couple of hours laughing at myself at how badly I was at controlling it. However, we have at least 1 digital artist who can work the thing like she was doing a commercial for the brand. If you watch the video you’ll wonder “why didn’t she use shapes?” And the answer is I am pretty bad at Illustrator.
With practice, I think this could be a viable solution. But, I say not bad for something I had to set up and learn to work yesterday. There were about 7 tries before I got this clip. Overall, I think about 3 hours to make it but that includes the learning curve. If I made more I bet I could get the hang of it and do them pretty quick.
Materials: Adobe Illustrator CS5, Wacom Bamboo writing tablet CTH-670, Labtec headset, Windows 7, Kaltura
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO. You could watch the embed video here if WordPress wasn’t trying to annoy everyone by making videos impossible to embed from anything other than youtube and vimeo. I’m going to have to start testing Blogger.
This is why I love the internet. It’s moments like these. The elusive secret to making antique looking paper is grunge brushes. I used avariation from what I learned from the following youtube video. My end result wasn’t exactly the same because I used the techniques shown to make the paper look closer to what I needed it to look like. But the technique is the same. Grunge brushes, varying gradients of color right next to each other on the color swatch.
I uploaded the final drafts of the tutorials this morning to vimeo and youtube as requested. I created a playlist in youtube to group all the videos together. I sent out a recommendation to push the vimeo links instead of the youtube links because of one major factor: Replace this Video.
The video tutorials will likely need to be updated in a few months. When I upload into Youtube, I can’t replace the original file and I will lose statistics and a permanent URL. Vimeo allows me to replace the previous video with a new one. This gives me the ability to keep a permanent URL and all the statistics for one video together. I did a little bit of research trying to see if there was a way since youtube is so much more popular.
I propose we push the vimeo URLs and let people stumble on to the youtube ones. Also include links to vimeo in the youtube channel.
I also can’t upload my own thumbnail into youtube. I have to let the screenshot showing be one of three images from the video youtube randomly picks out. In vimeo I can upload whatever photo I want to be the image representation of the video.
Succeed at Searching
Vimeo channel: http://vimeo.com/channels/217449
Youtube Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8A0B428C86DF8B3D
The easiest way to say what we had to do to make this work is by putting it down in a step-by-step.
1. Record audio voices of all characters conversing with each other at the same time to avoid audio prints that don’t match-up.
2. After importing audio files into the computer, each individual voice must be saved as a separate audio file for every single time that character speaks. For example:
Vin: I have to do what? (audio file 1.1)
Nat: I need a file for every single part of the conversation. (audio file 1.2)
Vin: State won’t let you just run the whole wav file? (audio file 1.3)
Nat: No. (audio file 1.4)
Vin: So I need to make a new audio file for every part of the conversation. (audio file 1.5)
Nat: Yes. And then I have to upload each individual file every time a character begins to speak. (audio file 1.6)
Vin: That sucks. (audio file 1.7)
Nat: I know. (audio file 1.8)
That short conversation is now 8 different audio files.
3. So then each individual audio file must be imported into State whenever a character begins to speak. This process will then remove all the continuous room noise that was present in the background and create a horrid empty space of sound between one character having finished speaking and a new character beginning to speak.
4. Export the file from State.
5. In Premiere I exported the audio file to fix.
- Using Soundbooth I lowered the room noise a bit from where the characters are speaking. I did this using the previously blogged about method.
- To help with the cavernous sound of the recording I added an EQ Graphic filter and selected Presence.
- I also had to export some of the room noise to fill in the spaces between the characters talking. I took the few seconds of exported room noise and pulled them into Garage Band to create a clip of room noise that was several minutes long. I probably could have done this in Soundbooth, but since I already know how to do it in Garage Band, and I’m really not in the mood to learn a new trick right now, I made it in Garage Band.
6. I pulled the new audio into Premiere, including the room noise audio as a constant background hum, and then proceeded to edit as normal.
Our video tutorials have an interaction with two people. The first thing we did was record the actors directly into State separately and then output the file. This is the wrong way to do this. The final product had microphone noise. The room noise from one actor to the other didn’t match. Whenever the actors weren’t talking there was no room noise and instead a distinctive complete lack of sound. One audio was higher than the other.
It was a disaster.
Yesterday we re-recorded with both voice actors in the same room recording to the same device. We left off at least 15 seconds at the beginning and the end of the recording for just some room noise. I edited the audio wav files to the best clips and have sent them out to be imported into State. We’re hoping this will be an easy transition. I downloaded a wav file offline yesterday and State couldn’t seem to pick up the voice. When I did the same thing with a wav file taken from State it worked fine.
We used an M-Audio MicroTrack II Mobile Digital Recorder for the wav files.
First trials with the Xtranormal animation tutorials went reasonably okay. The biggest problem seemed to be the robotic voice provided by the program. There are very few options in each language and what tends to happen is that some words are hard to understand in the robotic voice the first time around. We want the videos to be understood by all and if the native English speakers are having trouble with robotic enunciation then… well.
So for the second draft we are going to be trying out a recording of live human voices. The xtranormal desktop software, State, allows a user to record a voice into the program and the animated person follows along to that recording instead of the robotic voice. This sounds like a good alternative. I haven’t finished putting together the new drafts, but here are some issues that have been raised with the use of the human voice:
1. Any editing would require the person who voiced it to come in. Otherwise you might potentially have to edit every single video with the new voice.
2. the robotic voice is something that whoever is doing the animation can work with on their own instead of having to wait for a schedule fit with the voice actor.
3. The librarians doing the voices are talking considerably faster than the robotic voice. This might give rise to a different problem. As the robotic voice was difficult to understand, a fast human voice might be difficult for our target audience to follow. As in, it’s hard to absorb information that you are hearing for the first time when it’s given too fast. My opinion.
As a test for the video tutorial series I’m putting up video files on vimeo that contain only the screencaps taken on my Mac. My Mac is on a 2560×1440 display setting and all the screencaps I take using Quicktime are also of this resolution. For the files using only screencaps (and not the xtranormal animations) I’ve had to find alternate setting to export the files to vimeo. The vimeo HD setting compresses the files too much and appear highly pixilated when uploaded.
Here is the combination I’m exporting to avoid pixilation and cropping of the video file:
Resize Video to : 1680×945
This is our process for making the library tutorials.
1. Reference & Instruction Librarians write scripts for the video tutorials based on a Term Paper Strategy sheet they made as handouts to students in the 2010-2011 academic year.
2. Department Head and myself make edits to scripts. I go ahead and re-write based on edits.
3. Library Assistant in the department makes the animated video files using Xtranormal’s desktop program State. He is using the green screen background so I can add images of our library to the background. He is also the one taking the pictures.
4. I inter splice the animated videos with the video screen captures I made using Quicktime as well as the library still shots and a few sound effects from garage band (typing + footsteps).
5. I add title screens.
6. export h.264 vimeo HD at 1280×720 25fps.
7. Post on vimeo in password protected files while I wait for feedback for further edits.
– vimeo allows me to replace files so I don’t lose the web address if I need to update a video file.
– State is easy if you don’t care not being able to control what the characters are doing or which way their eyes are going.
– video 1 is ~1:30 minutes long. It took me about 1.5 hours to get the edits done and uploaded. This is with video screen captures and stills (not counting title) already done and ready to be imported into the Adobe Premiere file.
In order to do the library tutorials, we’re going to have to use video screen captures. The other person on this project and myself have both had Adobe Captivate installed on our desktops. I’ve opened up the program and it looks complicated and filled with a bunch of features that are probably very helpful.
Instead I’m going to try using the screen recording feature on Quicktime X. There’s very little control, but I’ve tested it out and the output file is sufficiently large. I can edit my movie files then in Adobe Premiere which I know well enough. If I use Captivate I’d have to learn an entirely new program and the rough drafts on this project are due next week.
Here is a quick tutorial I used in order to learn how to do screen recording on Quicktime X: Quicktime X: Screen Recording
So yesterday I downloaded the State software from xtranormal so I could make animated videos from my computer directly instead of from the website. Here are some findings followed by the video.
- State appears to offer a wider range of control over the animation than the online website. I say “appears” because both options are so difficult to navigate sometimes if you want to personalize the video that it’s hard to tell exactly what my options are.
- The downloaded software will only allow you to add assets that you have previously purchased. Different animations come in different package sets (like robots, stick figures, homeboys and so on). If you haven’t used anything from a previous set before those characters won’t show up in options. The same goes with languages. In order to reach the full potential of assets, you have to log into xtranormal through State and purchase the assets.
- I can’t figure out a way to publish my video from State into my xtranormal account. There has to be a way, right? But the website is so difficult to navigate I might have given up on what seemed like a lost cause. State allows you to publish to Facebook or Youtube. I exported to an mov file (a very low file size mov file) and uploaded to vimeo.
- The help forum is not very helpful
- When trying to add extra movements from the camera or characters, I have a hard time understanding the timings and nothing seems to really work the way I ant it to except by accident.
Final Thoughts: xtranormal and State are not for control freaks. There’s a lot of stuff you’re just going to have to let go. Also, despite the mostly good enunciation of the voices, perhaps a voice-over would be best.
Password protected video on vimeo