Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Good Enough Guide to Making Educational Videos

For my Clickademics site, I make educational videos the hard way, often taking several days to film the lesson, create graphics, and edit it all together. That is fine for my website, but it is completely impossible for a classroom teacher trying to juggle all of the regular teaching duties. Below are my quick and dirty tips for making educational videos that are fast enough to fit in your schedule but quality enough that you won't be embarrassed to show your students. It took about half and hour to film and an hour to edit.


  • Video Camera - any camera will do
  • Microphone - hopefully you have a camera with an audio jack. A cheap label mic does wonders
  • Mac (sorry PC users, the teachers I help all use Macs and so do I)
  • iMovie Editing Software and PowerPoint or Keynote presentation software


1.     Film your lesson, preferably using an external microphone. Teach in short segments with long pauses in between. Don’t be afraid to take many takes until you get each segment just right.
2.     Upload your footage to your computer. If you plan to film several lessons, consider storing the video on an external hard drive.

  1. In iMovie, click on the “File” pull down menu and choose “Import from Camera”
  2. Always choose the “Full” file size, but you do not need to choose “Stabilization” because it takes too long.

3.     iMovie’s screen is separated into “Events” and “Projects.” The Event is the raw footage that you downloaded. The Project is your finished product. You may need to hit the “Project Library” arrow to see all of your projects. Now hit the “+” sign to add a new project. Give your project a name and leave it as 16:9 widescreen and 30 fps.
Adding a New Project
4.     In the “Event Library” watch your footage. When there is a segment you want to use, click on it to surround it with a yellow box. You can drag the beginning and the end of the box to fit keep the good parts.
Capture Clip in Yellow Box
5.     Drag the yellow box up to the “Project” window.
Drag Footage into Project
6.     Keep doing steps 4 and 5 for all of your segments until you have a complete lesson. Remember to keep your lessons short. When it doubt, make several 2-4 minute lessons instead of a 12-14 minute lessons.
This is Your First Draft
7.     Now, create your graphics. Using PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, make slides that correspond to the important points in your lesson.

  1. Write out your most important points
  2. Show examples
  3. Make diagrams
  4. Add photographs (be sure to search for Creative Commons images that are not copyrighted. You may use copyrighted images in your own classroom but not if the video is available to all students.)
Make Slides
8.     Save your slideshow in a way that can be embedded in your video

  1. The fast, easy way: save each slide as it’s own image.
  2. In Powerpoint, click on the “File” pull down menu and choose “Save As.” Under the “Format” or “File Type” choose “JPG.”
  3.  In Keynote, click on the “Share” pulldown menu and choose “Images.”
  4. Add these photos to your iPhoto library
  5. The slower, fancier way: export your slideshow as a movie that you can edit in to your video lesson
  6. Between each slide you will need to add a “Transition.” Set the transition to happen 20 seconds later so that the slide will stay on the screen long enough.
  7. You will have to use this method if you have animation in your slideshow.
  8. You will find the place to export as a movie in the “Save As” “Format” in PowerPoint or “Share” in Keynote.
9.     Import your slides into your video project. In iMovie, do the following:

  1.  For still images, click on the “photo browser” icon that is shaped like a camera. Find your images so you can use them later.
  2. For slides saved as a movie, click on “File” and “Import” and choose “Movies”
10.  You will now need to be sure that “Picture-in-Picture” is turned on.

  1. Click on the “iMove” pull down menu and click on “Preferences.”
  2. Under “General” be sure that “Show Advanced Tools” is checked.
Inspector for PIP Transitions
11.  Now drag your graphics to the place where you want them.

  1. If you drag the graphic in between clips, it will take the whole screen. This is good if you have a slide that you will use as a title for your video.
  2. If you drag the graphic on top of another clip, the graphic will appear in a small box next to the teacher.
Crop Graphics
Adjust PIP Graphic
Move PIP
12.  You can show a graphic while the audio of the lesson continues. This is good if you are talking through an example, and you want the viewer to follow along.

  1. Click on the clip in the Project to select it. If the clip is longer than you want the graphic on the screen, you will need to right click and choose "Split Clip" to cut the clip where you want it to end,
  2. Right click and choose “Detach Audio.”
  3. Drag the graphic on top of the video of the teacher talking.
  4. Choose “Replace.”
Split your video Clip
13.  Add text to the screen. Click the icon with a “T” on it; these are meant to be titles, but most are good for adding text as well.

  1. If you want to reinforce a point, but you don’t have a slide, you can overlay text on the screen.
  2.  Just select the appearance of the text and drag it to the clip where you want the text. You can stretch or shrink the time the text is on the screen with the yellow box in the Project window.
14.  Once all the content is in place, you can add transitions, but do so sparingly. Click the icon with triangles. Use transitions to

  1. the viewer that you are moving to a new part of the lesson. A “wipe” will alert the student that you are turning the page to a new topic.
  2. Use a “Fade to White” if you have two clips of the teacher talking that don’t quite match
  3. A “Dissolve” is good for most other transitions, but it is ok to jump between two scenes with no transition.
  4. Just be consistent. Create a visual vocabulary that has meaning for your viewer.
Add Transitions
15.  When your video is complete, export it.

  1. Click on the “Share” pull down menu.
  2. You will probably choose either “YouTube” or “Export Movie.”
  3. Choose “Export using Quicktime” if you want to save it as a certain video format or shrink the file size to something easy to share or email. If you want to shrink the movie, change “Default Settings” to “LAN/Intranet.” Click on “Options” and “Size;” change “Compressor Native” to “1280x720 HD” because your video is widescreen.

If you would like to see the finished product, I posted the video on YouTube/Clickademics

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