Is it time you reviewed your course welcome video?

For most, the answer to this question will be yes!

Recently, Matt Marino, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering, wowed his colleagues with the new welcome video he has produced for his students. Many people have asked how they can do something similar, so this post is intended to guide you to create your own movie magic!

Have a look at Matt’s video below and think about why it keeps you engaged to the end?

The first thing to point out is that making this video was by no means a quick and easy task. As Matt explains: “Making that video was not a trivial thing. It took me some time to get the content right in terms of camera settings, lighting, take, take and retake of sections. I was on YouTube a lot getting tips. Then after that, the video editing was about 5 hours of experimentation. I was motivated and had to teach myself a lot but what the video does not show is the background frustration video editing produces for an amateur”.

So, you might rightly ask why someone would spend so much time on a 1.5 min video?

Matt wanted to make an instant connection with his students when they entered the online environment, he is teaching first year engineering students and wants to make their online learning as attractive and relatable as possible. He can’t connect with them in the lecture theatre right now, so it is all the more important to so this effectively online.

A colleague of Matt’s, Abdulghani Mohamed was so inspired by Matt’s video he created a new welcome video for his students.  Abdulghani has chosen not to use green screen however the message of wanting to inspire his students and connect with them from day 1 is very evident.

So, what if you share Matt’s desire to create a new welcome video for your students that helps to build rapport and connection? Where should you start? We have put together some useful tips and resources for you below:

via GIPHY

Building presence in your course

The importance of using video in your course cannot be overstated now that you are teaching wholly online. Use your welcome video as a starting point to build connection and rapport with your students. It is a simple and effective way to enable students to make an initial connection with you, their course coordinator. The use of video in your course helps to build a sense of presence and can help reduce the feeling of being isolated for students. Presence in an online course is broken down to three types: cognitive (or content) presence, social presence and teaching presence. If you are interested in learning about creating an online presence there is a short self-paced module on our “Pivoting to Online Learning & Teaching” Canvas course. Other ideas to use video for creating presence in your course include, creating:

  • An end of week video announcements that summarise what your students have learned, how it relates to upcoming assessments, how future content will build on that knowledge and how it’s relevant to the real world.
  • A video response to the aggregated results of a recent completed assessment task, discussing common mistakes and recommending course material.
  • A video for the beginning of a new week/topic covering the topic learning outcomes and what students can expect.

The video below provides some quick tips on how to create instructor presence in an online course.

How can I create a great welcome video?

We hope Matt’s video has inspired you to create a new welcome video, don’t despair if you don’t have the skills or time Matt does to create your new video.  There are some quick and effective ways that you can create you video, have a look at the post “Creating Microlectures” for ideas on different video approaches you could use . What is important is that you have an engaging personalised script that includes the following points:

1. What the key concept/ideas of the course are
2. Why these concepts/ideas are important and why they need to know
3. Who you are and your interest in the course
4. How students will benefit from the course
5. When to be present (this is the call to action – encourage them to engage online/in class)

When we first moved to Canvas we provided some different examples of approaches to producing a welcome video which you can view here.

Matt’s Hot Tips for Green Screen Video Creation

Setup

A green screen can be easily created at home by using a sheet of green material. I bought a 25-meter roll of green material from Spotlight for $25 and the colour was green lime. Cut the sheets into squares and tape them to a wall. Alternatively, you can go to office works and buy bright green paper and tape them to a wall using double-sided tape. If you really want to, you can purchase all types of green screens on the net.

Lighting

It is crucial you have very good lighting either in a room which is very well lit or doing the greenscreen outside capitalizing on all the natural light possible. You cannot cast shadows on the green screen as the post-processing software really needs to be able to select one colour and casting a shadow will identify a darker shade of green. To minimise shadowing, make sure you can stand away from the green screen as much as possible. For reference, I did mine outside on a sunny day which for me was simple as I didn’t have to worry about setting up lights in an indoor environment.

Camera Settings

The one thing that helped a lot is setting the aperture to around 4-6 which will blur items in the background, in this case, the green screen. If you have a good camera that allows this of course. I used a Sony Alfa5000 which allows me to adjust the aperture. The greenscreen will have some blur in it which is great for the post-processing as the fine imperfections on the greenscreen (such as creases, folds and any other contrasting features) will blur and will less likely be picked up by the post-processing software.

You don’t need a professional camera. A phone camera will work. The final results might not be as good in terms of video quality but nevertheless, you will be able to do all of this with a phone camera, GoPro or any other camera you have that can take good video.

Taking Video

It is important to take small clips rather than one long clip. This will save you time in post-processing as trimming clips might be a problematic and time consulting task. It also allows you to rearrange various scenes with ease without needing to chop up a very long video take.

Have a script ready – Make sure you map out what you would like to show in the video. You might need to do double or triple takes of what you would like to video. You can go bonkers with this.

Voice Overs

Voice over – I tried to AdHoc this and failed every time. Have a written script ready to read out. It helps a great deal. Do this in chucks as well. You will find that you will fail a lot trying to get the right voice over with good pronunciation and articulation.

Post Processing

This is by far where the major portion of works comes in. I used iMovie on a Mac which has a green screen feature in it by default. Most video editing software packages have this as standard now. The green screen function will allow you to have 2 videos to be displayed at the one time, the green screen video and another video/image you want in the background. There is normally a feature for you to click on the part of the clip which is green which will allow for the program to identify the colour of your green screen. After that, the green part of the green screen video will be captured and erased by your video editing software leaving the background of the other video/image intact. From there you piece together everything you want to show in your video and time everything so that is displays in the order and the speed that you like. You will end up putting all your recorded audio into the video as well in which you will need to adjusting the timing of your transitions and the length of the images to match the audio (voice-over). This will take time to get right.

As a measure, my 2-minute video took me about 8 hours of work including everything here. For me, it was worth it and I think the students will take a lot from it.

I have included a Youtube tips clip below. This was the one I used to get me started.

Happy Green Screening!

Some YouTube tutorials I used when creating the video.

Greenscreen Tips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n84m8lkqxAk&t=325s

iMovie Greenscreen tutorial  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kU0xa4ltn4

Additional Resources:

  • Jess Danaher’s, SSCI, recent Solutions Lab session inspired Matt to create his new welcome video.  In this session Jess shared her toolbox of time-freeing hacks for teaching online.
  • Creating Microlectures (key concept videos)
  • There is a great guide on TechSmith that covers everything from setting up a green screen, lighting and use of a camera/tripod. This guide refers to Camtasia for the editing software, if you don’t have Camtasia you can freely use the Adobe editing products listed in this guide.

Need help?

Need advice on what the best tool is to create your video or assistance in creating your video contact the SEH Helpdesk via  email:  seh.adg.let@rmit.edu.au.