In my recent work in Oregon, I had the opportunity to meet more incredible educators doing great things for the children in their care. One of them had such exciting new ideas about using technology to help her hearing impaired students with cochlear implants increase their hearing and language skill development. This teacher's dedication is an inspiration.
As we talked, I was thinking that Videocue, by Varasoft, might be just the solution for what she wanted to accomplish. While her objectives can be met with a lot of time invested in recording and then editing digital video, she, like all teachers, has tremendous demands placed on her time and therefore needs a really quick and easy, practical solution. After playing with Videocue this morning I have concluded that this software will do just what she needs.
She wants her students to be able to see the printed text they are reading, hear it read aloud in a natural human voice, and also see it signed for them--all in real time.
Videocue is very powerful teleprompter software. But, as I have done in the example below, you can use it just as effectively on your computer screen without purchasing a teleprompter. I got a little wild and crazy in my example, just to show you some of what the program can do. However, the workflow can be just this straightforward:
1. Type (or copy & paste) your text (script)
2. Click record
3. Read your text
4. Save the file
5. Upload the movie to your blog
The program window is divided into three parts (left to right): assets, text, tracks. To accomplish this teacher's objective, you would type (or copy and paste) the text you need to read and sign into the main text area (middle) shown in the picture (click to enlarge it). Your camera video input (and any movies, stills, or audio you have imported into this project) appears on the left of the text window. (Mac laptops, and even the iMac, purchased in the last few years all have a built in video camera.) Drag the camera icon on the left to the right of the first line of text.
Before recording, go to the Export Settings... under the File menu (pictured on the left; click to enlarge) and check "Include Captions," which will overlay, at the bottom of your finished movie file, the text you are reading so your students can read as they listen and watch. Click the red record button. Sign the text as you read it.
The text scrolls through a highlighted bar. Use the space bar to pause the text or use the up and down arrow keys to speed up or slow down the scrolling text. If you have selected "Include Captions" in the export settings, the words in the highlighted area will appear on screen in the finished movie while as the viewer hears you read them. Therefore, to appear natural, you want to make sure what you are saying is in the highlighted area as you say it. This simple step synchronizes what the viewer sees with what is being heard.
You can rehearse if you wish, as the software has a rehearse feature. I found that after just a couple of tries, I had adjusted the speed of the scrolling text to a comfortable reading pace.
When the window reaches the bottom of your text, the scrolling stops, and you are prompted to name your file and decide where to save it. If you have ftp access to your file server, Videocue can even be configured to upload the file for you!
To the right is a quick example I created using Videocue Pro. It's not a fancy example. I just threw it together literally in a matter of minutes to demonstrate to busy teachers that this can be a very easy, quick, and practical video podcast solution. The program is easy to use! Click the apple to see the video podcast example.
I Covered Just the Basics...
This post has covered just the basics! Videocue Pro has plenty of bells and whistles--some were demonstrated in my example movie. You can download a trial version and take it for a spin on your Mac. (Sorry Windows friends, this only works on the Mac. If you know a similar package for Windows, click comments and share.) Brian Novak, at Varasoft, provides a special discount for educators. You can find their education pricing at this link.
Another solution, called ScreenFlow, was just announced by Varasoft this past week. It goes well beyond the function of a simple screen capture utility. I'll save it for another post.