I’ve been dipping into the stream of fun and information on the University of Mary Washington New Media Center Digital Storytelling Summer of Oblivion online course. Organised by Jim Groom it would be pretty hard to describe but it is producing lots of interesting stuff. A great way to spend a lot of time following links to posts that range wide.

Among the various weird and wonderful posts I found a series of website/blogs from the University of Mary Washington New Media Center which give a good introduction to basic Digital Media Tools:

I’ve also created a la list of these links on linkli.st: Digital Media · linkli.st. linkli.st is a service that make it easy (bookmarklet) to create & curate lists of links.

Update (a couple of hours later): I just found a wiki I put together last year covering some of the same ground: Digital Media.

For the last year or so I’ve been running (supported by network support officers at every turn) a Podcast Producer server. This lets schools in North Lanarkshire publish audio and video very easily indeed.

Recently I’ve been testing the workflows that let you add, for example, and introduction or credit section automatically after the video is uploaded to the server (examples: Glow Blogs 3 Posting and Glow Blogs 2 Dashboard and Settings)

Podcast Producer does a lot of complicated stuff to do this, and uses some commandline applications in the process. One of these, pcastaction, is included in Mac OS X as well as Mac OS X Server. pcastaction can be used via the terminal to manipulate quicktime movies, it seem to be particularly useful for batch operations.

This evening, on the UK ADE mailing list, someone was asking about adding a logo image to a lot of movies. I did a couple of quick tests and found this can be done quickly with pcastaction.

Here is a quick set of instructions followed by a screencast. I am only a command line beginner but it is fairly simple stuff.

1. Create a plain text file (I use TextMate but TextEdit will do the same) containing the following:

 #!/usr/bin/env bash

for FILE in ~/Desktop/movtest/*; do
/usr/bin/pcastaction join --prb="/Users/johnjohn/Desktop/movs/" --input1="$FILE" --input2="/Users/johnjohn/Desktop/example.jpg" --output="$FILE".mov
/usr/bin/pcastaction flatten --prb="/Users/johnjohn/Desktop/movs/" --input="$FILE".mov --output="$FILE"flat.mov


  • my video files are in a folder movs on my desktop.
  • The image UI want to add is example.jpg on my desktop.
  • My username on the mac is john

2. Save it as brand.sh (make it a plain text file if using textEdit not an rtf one)

3. open the terminal

4. type cd Desktop and hit return this move you to the Desktop where you can worm on the files

5.type chmod +x brand.sh and return this make the file executable(able to run)

6. type ./brand.sh this runs the file

you will see a lot of stuff speed past in the terminal.

After it finishes look in the movs folder:

for each file.mov that was there originally there will be a file.mov.mov which is a reference movie with the image added at the end and one named file.movflat.mov which is a self-contained quicktime movie and the one you want.

There will also be a folder Contents which you can delete, it was a folder used by pcastaction when working.

Here is a Screencast which may make thing a little clearer.

If you are a mac user, and have a lot of repetitive video task to do it might be worth having a wee look at pcastaction.

A while back I bought a ‘Gorillapod Gorillamobile Style Tripod for iPhone 4’ from eBay, for about a tenner.

iphone tripod

This works very well, and has now survived a few walks and being stuffed in pockets, bags and rucksacs.

Iphone Tripod 2

The seller I bought it from does not seem to have any left but Tripod iPhone 4 search on eBay UK turned up a few similar items.

Here is a pretty steady video shot using the device.

As a follow up to the previous post I took some photos a few short videos and recorded some mp3s on a walk on Friday.

The idea was to knit them together quickly into movie.

I started with Splice the first rather ambitious attempt to import 60 stills and have a dozen videos crashed the app. I found that I could import a dozen at a time worked until I hit about 50 the app then crashed, multiple attempts to open the project again failed and I moved on to iMovie.

Importing image one at a time was a bit tedious, so I only managed about 40, along with 5 or 6 short video segments (10-15 seconds each) by the time I’d added all of these iMovie had become a little sluggish but it was still possible to edit.

I suspect that the Splice crash & iMove sluggishness were caused by the number of clips as opposed to the short total length. This is probably not the best use of an ios video editor.

I was disappointed to find that I could not use the extra audio recorded even after I had move it into iTunes and synced it with my phone. Although I could select the audio files they did not appear in the movie. I expect that even if they had they would have acted as background music rather than movable sound effects.

I exported the movie a couple of times, first as HD- 720p which resulted in a 272mb movie on my desktop. Then as a Large – 540p movie this was 141MB
Both saved as iPhone movies with QuickTime to 22MB, this for a 3 and a half minute movie.

Ios movie thumbs

Over a month ago I started dumping screenshots of a few iPhone movie editors, iMovie, ReelDirector, Splice & Vimeo with the intention of writing a detailed comparison of the apps.

I’ve blogged before about taking and editing video in the classroom. I’ve found it a very valuable activity. Not big production stuff, more quick & dirty; gathering evidence, a change from writing a report etc. I think that iPod touches could be used to do this sort of work hopefully cutting out the computer from most of the work.

My notes and screenshots quickly got out of hand and I was heading for a lot more work than a blog post. I’ve decided just to post some of the main points here.

Part of the testing was to make with each of the apps a very short movie, combining a still, a couple of move clips, adding a background track and some titles (4 movies). I used the same media for all 4, a couple of very short clips and a photo of my colleague Ian’s birthday dalek.

This could by no means be described as a comprehensive review. I have tried to avoid reading any help and may have missed features completely. If I could not get a feature to work quickly an easily I gave up on it.

Project Screens

SpliceVimeo movie list

All of the apps have a screen where you can see a list of your projects, iMove uses a series of thumbnails under a cinema canopy, the rest more conventional lists. Splice differs by only offering landscape, Vimeo only portrait. Vimeo also opens with a list of your published videos on Vimeo which you can watch (you can also see video from your inbox and likes). The video you are editing are in Recordings in thumbnail view.

All of these interfaces work iMovie is possibles slightly more awkward but not much.

Creating a new project.

iMovie takes you straight into the editing mode. The project can be named later on on the projects screen.

ReelDirector: clicking on the + on my projects opens a screen to tile your movie, add credits and set the default transition. Then you are taken to the edit screen. You can go back and edit the ‘properties’ at any time.

Splice: clicking on the + on the Projects screen adds a project to the top of the list and opens the keyboard to name the new project. Once named you are taken to the project settings screen.

Vimeo: you go to the Recordings screen and again hit the + a new icon for the project appears, clicking on this opens the Project Details screen, where you can title, open in video editor, add video clips, export or upload.

Again these all work well and are intuitive, I’ve a slight preference for iMovie which lets you get straight to work. iMovie is also the only one that opens the app at the last place you were working rather than the project list (ReelDirector & Vimeo do too unless you quit the app).

Adding media

Adding video and still images

  • iMovie: click on media button take you to a three tabbed screen; video, photos & audio. The video screen allows you to select a section of video from videos on your camera roll and add it to the project.

    Imovie import video

    The photo screen gives access to your photos and allows you to select one this is added to your project set at 4 seconds with a basic Ken Burns effect.

  • ReelDirector: clicking the + give you a dialog with a choice of media. Clicking Video/photo open up your camera roll. Clicking a video adds the whole clip to the timeline. Adding a photo adds it to the timeline as a 4 second still. You need to edit the image to add a Ken Burns effect.
  • Splice: when you create a new project the editor opens with buttons to add a choice of Video/Photo, Transition or Title. Clicking Video/Photo opens your photos and lets you add multiple photos and or video clips. You can move though different albums adding media by clicking and adding a tick. After you have selected a number you are asked if you want to add a transition to all of the selected media.

    Splice Import

  • Vimeo: in Vimeo you see the three tracks, video, titles & audio. Clicking at the + at the end of the video track allows you to choose a clip or still from your photo library. If you choose a still it comes in at 3 seconds. You can ‘Enable Basic Pan/Zoom Effect’ and easily adjust the length by dragging the handle at the end of the photo clip on the timeline.

The two standout import features are iMovie’s select a section og video and Splice’s multiple file import.

Adding audio

  • iMovie allows you to import audio from your iTune library, for the theme music in the app and sound affects. The sound affects go onto the time line where the playhead is but music track are placed along the whole movie. Adding another music track replaces the one that is there. You can have recorded sound orsound effects over background music.
  • ReelDirector allows you to import audio from the iPod library and the Imported Music library. What is really nice is that you upload music to this library via a web browser on the same wifi network. This is especially simple with Safari, you click bookmarks, then bonjour and then the name of your phone, a webpage allowing you to upload files is served from your phone. You have one audio track in addition to the video audio.
  • Vimeo allows you to pick music from its Audio Library, you can add music to this via USB & iTunes or vis Wifi unfortunately I could not get the Wifi to work, the webpage loaded but choosing and uploading a file produced a blank page in the browser and no MP3 on my phone, (With Firefox the upload button didn’t produce a file dialog). Luckily the USB/iTunes option worked very well.There is one Audio track in vimeo, I could not see a way to have voice, or sound effects and background music at the same time.
  • Splice allows you to two track with audio files and one recording track. Splice You can import audio from iTunes or from the Splice Library this comes with some sound effects and a couple of sound tracks, there is a button to buy more clicking this opens a screen were you can buy music, sound effects and borders. I’ve not bought any.

Splice Audio Edit


All the editors allow you to add titles

  • iMovie the titles style is linked to the theme you choose. A movie must have a theme.
  • ReelDirector allows you to have titles on any clip, to set text styles, placement and title styles.
  • Vimeo titles can be adjusted for placement, colour and size, not fonts choice.
  • Splice titles can only be on a block background not on a clip.

Reel Director Titles


The above briefly covers some of the main features of the apps but probably the most important part is the actual editing. An iPhone or ipod touch has very limited screen space and it is interesting to see how each app has handled this.

    • iMovie

      iMovie Edit

      most of the basic editing is done on the time line, the video is trimmed or the length of photo display is controlled using the yellow handles on the timeline screen, I found it much easier to do this in landscape orientation. Double tapping on a clip opens a screen to set titles volume control and delete the clip. As mentioned above the title stiles are limited by the theme set in the project properties. You can also delete the clip here. Changing the transition settings is done by double clicking on the transition. Transitions are limited to none, cross dissolve or a theme one, you can set the transition length too.

    • ReelDirector

      Reel Director Edit

      All of the editing is done on another clip apart from the audio volume which opens at the bottom of the screen. I found the trimming of clips to be rather tricky and am not sure if I really understand the interface. As noted above ReelDirector has more options than iMovie for titles and indeed transitions. You do not seem to be able to set transition lengths.

    • Vimeo


      Clicking on a clip or still allows you to adjust the length with the handles, you can also set the in and out points manually in the pane at the top right of the screen, this swipes to other edits, volume, fit, pixel effect( filters) and a basic on off pan zoom effect. You can slide audio clips and title back and forth but I found in too difficult to get end credits at the end of my movie.


  • Splice Edit


clicking on a clip shows a set of small buttons to trim, adjust video speed, crop, duplicate or delete. clicking on most of these show another screen. The trim is at least as easy to manage as imovie and the Pan & Zoom (Ken Burns) very clear. The controls on splice are big enough not to miss a clip. Is, as far as I could see, is the only app to allow you to change the video speed. The Audio is reached from a different timeline view but offers similar trimming for the three audio tracks, fading in and out and volume control.


  • iMovie you can export to your camera roll at Medium, 360p; large, 540p pr HG, 720p. You can also export to youtube, facebook, vimeo or send the project to iTunes. I’ve only sent to camera roll.
  • ReelDirector you need to Render a movie before exporting, the export give a choice of Camera roll, email or youtube.
  • Vimeo allows you to upload to your viemo account or export to camera roll. When you export it renders and then saves to the camera roll.
  • Splice, you first preview a movie then export the choice is medium 960 x 540 or High 1280 x 720.

Favourite things

  • iMovies basic ease of use, the app seems to jump screens less than any of the others. The ducking of background audio.
  • Splice the ability to add multiple photos and clips and the easy clip and still editing.3 audio tracks.
  • ReelDirector the way you can import audio over Wifi from a desktop. The titles are a strong point.


  • iMovie, the way the title tie in to themes
  • ReelDirector, felt like the most fidgety on the small screen although it probably has more features. (On the iPad it has a different interface and is great)
  • Splice titles, over black, not over clips
  • Vimeo just turned up in the iTunes store as I was reviewing the others, it feels a less mature product.

What I’d like the apps to do

I’d like more of them to support the favourite things above. Especially the multiple selection and audio import over Wifi.

Audio import, it is easy to grab images from the browser on an ipod (CC ones of course) but audio is more difficult. Im my dalek movies I used some CC music from soundcloud it would be great to be able to use an app to save audio for there or elsewhere to iTunes on an iPhone/iPod and use it. This would really cut down the need for a desktop.

What I’d use

For the most part I think I’d use iMovie on my iPhone. If splice had titles over video I’d pay for it and get rid of the ads. I am setting up some iPod touches for use in schools and an installing splice to save a few quid.

What I’d use it for

I’ve shot precious little video since owning an iPhone, thousands of photos and quite a lot of audio recordings I might start taking a few move videos now I’ve played with the apps.

If I was in class I’d use this all of the time, perfect for children to record all sorts of learning. I’d also use for making videos of still pictures with a recorded sound track, something I used to get my pupils to do on iMovie on the desktop. sonicPics woulds be easier for this sort of thing than the movie editors as you can easily adjust the length the stills play while recording audio. (I reviewed SonicPics)

Any of these apps would do a good job in the classroom, with the demise of the Flip camera it may be time to look at iPod touches as a video device for teaching & learning.

Climate Change: information and resources for primary schools in Scotland a new site from LTS which looks great.

The purpose of this online resource is to provide practitioners from early level onwards with high-quality, accurate and topical resources to help them teach about climate change within Curriculum for Excellence.

Information, new and resources. The resources include creative commons images and lots of video with embed codes:

The videos can be viewed online or downloaded in different formats. Linked to the Sustainable Development Glow Group the resources don’t seem to require a glow login.

The only thing I couldn’t find was information to credit the Creative Commons Images as requested on the site. The images are great and could be used for discussion, stimulation and illustration not only of weather topics but for creative writing.

I’ve blogged a bit before about adapting glow to show video and audio. I’ve found another way to do it using the TopUp Javascript library and jQuery

Here is a screencast to show how it works:

This goes in an xml webpart in glow:

Here is what is going on:

Line 1 includes the jQuery Library hosted by google.

We then have a simple script using the library.

Line 3 setting jQuery to noConflict, this means that we use jQuery for our main function name rather than the $ shortcut. I am not sure if I need to do this but it fixed some early experiments.

Line 5, this is where we use jQuery, we use it to add a css class of top_up to any link that links to an m4v file.

Line 9 add the TopUp javascript library from gettopup.com. This is enough to make m4v videos play in a popup window but in the last bit of the script we just ajust some settings.

HandBrake came to my rescue, yet again, at work yesterday. A teacher brought in her JVC Everio HDD video camera with some footage on it. Plugging the camera into her mac and trying to import into iMovie failed. We had a quick look inside the disk that mounted and discovered the video was in .MOD files. A quick google found lots of folk wanting to convert these files. We tried MPEG Streamclip but it wanted us to buy an extra bit of software: QuickTime – MPEG-2 Playback. The next guess on my part was Handbreak, this has converted a few things for me including ripping video from those cameras that record to DVD. Pointing Handbreak at the MOD files converted them to m4v files that opened in quicktime and could be imported into iMovie.

Video cameras and formats can cause a bit of a problem if you don’t check the editing possibilities before you buy, Handbrake can help if you are stuck with a camera that you didn’t research. I have never had the time to look at all of Handbreak’s features and setting but it does a pretty good job of making you look knowledgeable at the default settings.

If you have to deal with video it is a good tool to have in your toolkit.

Update: Looks like it could have been simpler, this tweet from islyian

@johnjohnston John Rename .MOD files to .AVI and most editors recognise it

Would have saved me some time.

SconicPics is an iPhone/ipod touch application that allows you to create custom slideshow movies. The movies are made from still photos which you can add from the photo library or take with the iPhone’s camera. You can then narrate a voice over and create and enhanced m4v video with chapters.

In this example I’ve just used some pictures from classrooms I’ve been teaching in recently. It only took a few minutes to create and I am sure taking a little more time would have produced a more professional result and few plosives. I exported the 4v to reduce the size which removed the chapters too.

This looks like it could be a useful app in a classroom equipped with iphones or iPod touches. With touches pupils could use images downloaded from webpages or screenshots.

I’ve had this installed for a few days now, but the flurry of snow tweets (the #uksnow Map 2.0 is looking great) reminded me to try the live streaming from my iPhone to USTREAM.

I must say I was surprised at how well it went. This was using a wireless connection and a G3 not G3s iPhone. I think the quality is not too bad especially after I turned the phone the right way up. A stand would have helped rather than a pile of videos(sic), dvds and books. The twitter integration is good too.