Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes: Mobile Video Teasers

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Last week, two of us digifest devotees went guerilla around UCL in search for some cool people to hear their thoughts on techy things. In true spirit of digifest, we were armed with only one tool – a smartphone. Being amateur videographers, basically what we did was point and shoot, but there is so much more to mobile video making than we thought.

Orientation: You might scoff at this but a large amount of self-proclaimed videographers suffers from Vertical Video Syndrome. Shooting videos in portrait mode might be the most natural way to go, but landscape mode is actually more viewer-friendly. The logic behind this is:


Reddit: Mungo9000

Two things to pay attention to are lighting and sound – always let the subject face the light and try to film in a relatively quiet place with little background noise that could interfere. We steered clear of head-pounding drilling going on around the campus, although we still had the occasional rustle of people walking around, but that’s nothing a video editing software can’t fix!

Once we’ve got the footage we wanted, it was time to cut and edit them to suit our theme. Video editing softwares like iMovie for Mac or Windows Movie Maker are enough to do simple editing jobs. A recent update in Youtube has even allowed in-site video editing that you can just publish afterwards.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 16.58.51

iMovie editing layout

We then added some text, transitions and music (beware of copyright!) to spice it up into a multimedia video before uploading the final product on YouTube:

It doesn’t take a lot of technical skills to do this, just a little tinkering with some tools that are readily available. The difficult part in making this video is actually in approaching people to film them. In this case it’s about finding the right people – people who are waiting around or sitting in one place, who doesn’t look to be in a hurry… – and approaching them with a big smile and friendly attitude. Fortunately, the people in UCL are a cool bunch, and our gratitude goes to them for making this project a success.


Behind the Scenes: Making a Session Teaser Video

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Earlier this year I attended GEUG14, the Google Apps for Education European User Group meet up in York. The conference was great for all sorts of reasons, but it had one particularly neat feature: instead of providing a heap of wordy session abstracts to choose from, the GEUG team had instead recorded a series of short video introductions via Google Hangouts and published them on their Google Site beforehand (click the links in the programme to see the Hangout videos!). I liked the idea so much, I sneakily borrowed it for our digifest purposes.

Video is nice, but what if you don’t like to appear on camera?
I’m quite camera shy myself and will avoid having my mug all over the web at any cost. I still wanted an attention grabbing teaser trailer though, so here’s what I did instead:

I storyboarded using plain old pen and paper to clarify my idea for myself.


Next, I tracked down some suitable images. My preferred search portal is

Once I had pinned down the images I needed, I started building the animation. For this I used the free version of Hippo Studio’s Animator suite. It’s a powerful, yet easy to learn animation tool that exports to GIF, HTML5 or AVI formats.


With the animation assembled, I needed some music to jazz things up. I could have turned to CC Search again, but as I already had FMA (Free Music Archive) open in one of my zillion browser  tabs, I ran a search on there instead. It didn’t take long before I struck lucky and found something that seemed suitable for the opening sequence:
[sadly WordPress isn’t playing nicely with the FMA mp3 player]

For my next step I turned to another old favourite of mine: Serif MoviePlus. Why do I like it? It’s way more versatile than Windows Movie Maker, but is still simple enough to use for quick video editing. I have the full fat version on my home PC, but for this project the free download did everything I needed.


I drafted a short script, recorded the voice over, adjusted the timings a little and exported it all to WMV.

Here is the final result on YouTube:

Yes, this was definitely a lot more laborious and time consuming (about 4 hours all in) than if I had just done a quick face to camera piece, but I enjoy twiddling with all these different tools so much more than I enjoy seeing my face on YouTube!  😉