the making of library tutorials – draft 1

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.

Xtranormal – State software test

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

Xtranormal – test 1

I made a mini video yesterday using Xtranormal. I’m not posting it due to cursing in Spanish which while highly amusing, is not really appropriate.

Preliminary Observations:

  • The videos are paid for on a point system.  You are given 300 points to start with.  I managed to make one short video with no background noises and only one animated actor.  I might have enough points to make another video with the same limitations. To get more points you need to pay. Assets are the things in your video that cost points. These include sets and characters.
  • The price for extra points seems to be extremely low.  I used about half of my free user points (~150) .  If I wanted to purchase the minimum number of points possible (1200) it would only cost $10 and that’s without the educator discount. I’m not sure if there’s a price tag on longevity of the video, but there is an extra price tag for publishing through the online site.
  • Previous assets purchased for one video can be used again for another video without purchasing it again. I found this on the FAQ page.
  • The sight could use some revamping because the navigation is a bit unclear.  I had a hard time finding anything. I kept navigating to pages that asked me to log in when I could see that I was already signed in by the appearance in the top right corner of my username. Any questions are on the FAQ page and only there. I gave up trying to find a place to buy more points. It must be in there somewhere, but I give up. I don’t need to know right this very second.
  • The State product is Windows only. State allows a user to make the movies on their desktop and preview them before paying for the assets. State is free and I will play with it sometime this week.
  • The character voices are available in different languages.  There’s not a lot of variety in the character voices, but there is a large number of language options. I made a video using the Spanish male1 voice and so my script was written in Spanish.  Making any language voice speak in a different language is unclear because it obviously was programmed for the enunciation of the language it’s labeled with.
  • The videos have some cinematography options. You can change point of view. You can have characters change facial expressions or hold a beat. There are some motion options.
  • The videos are generally really easy to make.

Xtranormal MovieMaker

I will be looking at Xtranormal MovieMaker for possible use in library tutorials.  After a quick look through the website I found out that it is possible to download the videos into an mp4 file.  We could then theoretically splice these animated video files with video screen captures of our library website. It seems like an interesting way to get the students attention.  And that’s really the most important point because if no one’s watching the videos then no one’s learning what you intended. Might as well just pack it up and go home.

The Xtranormal service is not free, at least not the part where you can download an mp4 file.  Also, the idea has not been fully approved. We are still in the drawing board stage.

I tried and failed to embed code from Xtranormal into WordPress so here’s the video from the YouTube page.  This video is both a good example of Xtranormal and a very informative film for anyone considering getting their PhDin the humanities:

So you Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities

The youtube page has a few more of these type of videos about getting PhD in other areas.