Technology in the classroom and teacher resources blog
As the video / IT / web guy at my school I get asked this quite a bit - Any Tips for Taking Photos of Products?
Firstly, you’ll be happy to know you can easily improve the quality of your photos with a little effort rather than a large expense.
The camera on your phone is just fine :-) smart phone cameras are remarkably good.
Turn off the flash for more even lighting. Turn up the brightness of the screen (I have mine turned down during the day to conserve batter), and connect to a mains power supply so that the phone doesn’t go suddenly flat mid-shoot.
A tripod that keeps your camera steady is a must. You can get a small adjustable grip that then will hold your camera for a few dollars. Use the self-timer on your phone so there is no camera shake while pressing the shutter
Lighting: choose a sunny day, set an empty table with a white sheet or paper across it so it gets indirect light. A thin curtain over the window that diffuses the light will give nice even lighting.
To crop your images and remove the background (easy to do as it is on the one colour sheet) use Photoshop Elements. It has all the features of the full photoshop you need but without the monthly fees. It also has “save as for web" feature that will keep your photos high quality but the files sizes of your products down. Photoshop Elements is sometimes bundled with Premier Elements if you need some high-end video editing software, although I’d recommend iMovie or Filmora if you are new to editing.
And most importantly…
Back up. Everything. Your hard drive will fail one day. Look to get an external hard drive that’s about 2-3 times the size of your drive
All the photography and video gear I use for producing the items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and The Magic Crayons YouTube Channel can be found on my Kit page here.
I hope this helps. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.
TimRead more >>>
I've been after a new camera a while as my Canon 50D is not producing video to the standard I like. If you look at my video for Nogeyama Zoo there is just a ridiculous amount of out of focus clips. Understandable really given it doesn't have a auto-focus on video setting. Time to raise my game a little, which is producer talk for having found finally a justification to go and buy a new camera.
So what to get then. I was all clever and drew up a comparison table, which worked up to a point, until I went in and handled some of the cameras in a store. The classic Canon 80D I rejected for weight reasons. It's 730g without a lens verses 344g for a Sony A6300. No wonder Casey Neistat goes to the gym everyday. The wants list I wrote before going into a store and playing with the cameras is below. There is also a lot to be said for renting what you want before you buy too. I think I'm too impatient to do that :-/
Feature choices: The must have's.
• Price - under $1000 certainly, $800 or less would be better. Any more than this and I will become overly concerned about dropping it. Update: No. Go wild. Treat yourself. Because you're worth it. My current camera is years old and served me well. Screw sensibility, I want bells and whistles and the moon on a stick.
• Fixed aperture in video mode. Because as I try and vary the shots in my videos I am zooming in or out while recording. I've read fixed aperture would be useful in maintaining correct exposure while adjusting the zoom. Update: Actually automatic ISO when shooting video with manual aperture and shutter. This was not a common feature at all. If i want the film look, which I do, auto ISO needs to be there.
• Touch screen. Because I like shots that have interesting things in the foreground and in the background. I can switch focus between the two smoothly with a touch screen. Update. Yes. And no. This pushes me up a price band. Plus the Sony A6300 has 425 PDAF points (whatever they are), so it's going to focus faster than me anyway. face and object tracking are good these days too. It's rare for me to actually look at the screen so why not lettuce camera do the job.
• Aperture - Shallow depth of field. Oh yes please. The shallower the better. With a DLSR this can get crazy expensive. The Sigma Art lenses seems the best value but have no in lens stabilisation. If the camera body has stabilisation then look again at these lenses. Also the price would make them a next year purchase.
• Flip up screen. I record my kids mostly, so I like to have the camera at their head height. If the screen is flat against the camera I can't see it very well. If it tilted up that would be great. Update: Flip up, rather than flip out sideways. I feel I am less likely to break this.
• Movie resolution. My current camera has 1080 at 30fps. My new camera needs to be 4k as I would like to also buy a big new glossy 4K TV, given my current TV is not working well at all. I've not used slow motion to miss it. All the movie sizes quoted in the tables are to the nearest whole number. Update: 4K video takes processing. The smaller the camera the bigger the issue with heat dissipation from the processor. Some compact only shoot 5 mins at a time.
• Movie type. I have an iMac so H264 would be preferred. I've read of some newer cameras with H265, which my iMac doesn't support. In time they will I guess. Update: No. There are multiple file types for video. Select one that gives you high quality recording, not just the one that ...Read more >>>
Video files exported from iMovie cannot be exported directly from iMovie into a Windows 365 video channel. Although the files are great for Youtube, Windows 365 video is in early stages of development and at time of posting is not happy about the huge files that iMovie creates at all.
Step by step how-to guide for exporting from iMovie to a Windows 365 Video Channel
1. Complete your awesome movie. Click share and file
2. Export your movie. Choose the largest high quality settings available to you. Create a folder called Movies to convert, or similar. This will give you a nice high quality file to view later. You are going to convert this for 365 video.
4. At this point you have two options.
A: Transfer the exported movie file from your Mac to your Windows computer (via USB memory stick or OneDrive) and into Windows Movie Maker. Then export from there using the Windows 7 / iPhone export setting. The resultant file can then be uploaded into your 365 Movie channel.
B: Convert the file on your Mac using HandBrake, then upload into 365 Video. See below for the how-to guide.Read more >>>
Here's another common challenge for teachers. You've recorded awesome footage of your students on your iPhone as it was closest to hand at the time. Now you have to upload it to your schools Windows 365 Video Channel via your Windows laptop. I've pressed all the buttons, tried all the options, used a few bad words, and am now able to bring you this straightforward How-to guide.
1. Create your wonderful movie.
2. Tap the share button
3. Tap save video
4. Tap HD 720
5. The iPhone exports the video to 720p to your Photos library
6. Connect your iPhone to your schools Windows laptop. This window will automatically appear. Click Open device to view files.
7. Create a folder within Videos for your iPhone movies and ...
See full post for full details and photos of each step.Read more >>>
How to export a finished movie from Apple’s iMovie so it can be uploaded to a Windows 365 Video Channel
I am often asked how to upload or export movies from iMovie into Windows 365 Video channels. The key thing to know is that at this time 365 video cannot handle the large files that iMovie creates. Even if it could, your school network is not going to like or even allow you to upload a 2GB file, which is what you can easily get with a ten-minute 1080 video. It is not YouTube, and will sulk if it has to do too much processing.
I spent an afternoon trying different export settings so that you don't have to. If you follow these steps, all should be well. Please leave a comment if you run into problems so that I can update this if necessary.
1. Create your wonderful movie.
2. Click share
3. Click file.
4. The export settings
Title: The title
Description: In brief, what is this video about.
Tags. Keywords that describe the purpose of the video. At this time this information is not displayed in the 365 Channel, but conceivably it may at some point.
Format: Video and Audio
Resolution...Read more >>>
A behind the scenes video of my new studio space. This is where I create all my Teachers Pay Teachers materials and YouTube videos.
Below is everything I could think of that I used to make my studio. Except for cycling to the hardware store to choose the shelving, just about everything else I picked up from Amazon. I joined Amazon Prime to get things extra fast too.
Ikea Bekant Desk Sit/Stand, Birch Veneer, White. It will cheaper to go and pick it up direct from the IKEA store, but only if you have a store locally of course.
Wire shelving units. For the record box and printer, on the floor to the left. I measured the size of the box and printer then bought separate shelving parts to make exactly the size I wanted.
Clear plastic storage boxes. The same depth as the shelves, and can stack two high. I measure the shelves first, then chose these boxes. I saw how Casey Neistat uses his red boxes to store all his kit, and wondered how I as a more visual learner type could adapt his theology to suit me.
VIVA Reclining Office Chair, High Back Bonded Leather Chair with Footrest- Viva0850. Super comfy! A real lazy dad chair.
Clear plastic floor protector. The hard wheels of the chair began to scratch the floor. I could have bought replacement wheels, but felt better over all buying a clear floor mat.
Audio and outboard
The power supply in the US is the same as in Japan, plus they use they same plugs. Coming from England I was surprised and concerned that there was no earth terminal in my apartment. This is fine, so I'm told.
Alesis 3630 Compressor Limiter Gate Processor. In place to make sure I don't send any nasty peaks to my mixer when recording, or to my speakers on playback. Now I only use this when recording audio with a mic.
ART MX822 8-Channel Stereo Mixer. Really nice and clear. I'm not sure how I will be using my studio in the future exactly, but foreseeably audio recording for YouTube videos, voice overs for animation, my kids playing piano, a friend playing guitar. I have lots of options with this mixer in a shallow 1U space. I did incorrectly assume that the EFX return would act as a wet / dry dial. It only controls the volume of the returned signal. Not the end of the world, I've just wired everything else differently to get the control I needed.Read more >>>
Sometimes the answers to simple questions can be long and tortuous. I've spent many hours trawling Google for songs and sound effects to legally use in my Youtube Videos. Why I never thought to look at the YouTube page itself for an answer I'll never know.
From YouTube then:
Free music - Browse and download free music for your project.
Free sound effects - Browse and download free sound effects for your project.
In a previous post I looked into sourcing royalty free music for your project or vlog. I shall continue to use AudioJungle.com because the set up process is straightforward, the costs are very reasonable, and most importantly the tunes I have found suit my tastes and the mood I am trying to create. In my teaching role I shall certainly be sending, if not insisting my students source their music and effects from these Youtube pages as I will not have to worry about copywrite infringements.Read more >>>
Hi, Audiojungle is a fantastic resource for royalty free music. All my favourite videos and vlogs have awesome music, but whenever I just add something from my collection it of course gets flagged by Youtube. Audiojungle has so far met all my needs for suitable music to use as a background and edit to. It costs me about $20 to license a track. Others may of course use the same audio for their video but It's worth it of the piece of mind to be honest. I can't afford to have Youtube shut down my channel, which it would do if I keep using unlicensed tracks. The bpm is possible a little high for this video, but it was fun to edit it that to that tempo.
So what does this mean for students and teachers...Read more >>>
Thousands of innovative, standards-aligned digital resources, compelling student experiences, and professional development opportunities.
A mighty useful free resource that had up until now escaped my attention. If you are a teacher of any grade looking for an easy to use professional resource site then just head over to the PBS Learning Media website and have a wander through it yourself. Highlights for me include:
- Content by calendar - content by major holidays, observances, important dates, and themes
- Assign lesson and quizzes to students by generating a simple URL to share
- Browse by grade and subject
- Lessons complete with free media spanning multiple subjects for preschool through 12th grade.
- Cost-free K-12 interactive websites, videos, eBooks, images and sound files.
- Curious George videos.
- A digital storyboard that students can also use. I've not tried this as yet.
- Social studies
- English language arts and literacy