EDULEARN 2017 Publicaiton - Foundations of Video Production

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New publicaiton for the 9th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies EDULEARN17 (Barcelona, July 3-5, 2017):


Link to paper abstract: EDULEARN2017 Proceedings

This paper and virtual presentation was created around my work developing intensive short-courses in media and technology for the Masters Program in Educational Technology (MAET) at Michigan State University. More specifically, this paper focuses on a recent development of video production foundations for non-video/media professionals. In a way this type of intense module can be thought of as "film school in a day" where the focus is on learning the fundamentals in a very approachable way to get students up and running with solid pre-production, production, and post-production experiences to enhance their video projects.

The purpose of this virtual presentation is to share the structure and experiences of an intensive learning module on video production best practices developed as part of a capstone summer experience for a master of arts educational technology program. This learning module was conducted as part of a four-week international master’s program located in Galway Ireland. The students that participated were enrolled in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) from Michigan State University. The learning module on the foundations of video production was developed as a key component to the capstone curriculum of the three-year degree program. Learning how to effectively use video, and teach video production in educational settings is a key component of educational technology. Video has been shown to enhance training in distance based learning (Bayram, 2013), increase the online social presence of an instructor (Borup, West, & Graham, 2012), and through various production methods affect student engagement (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014). While there are many production oriented guides for filmmakers and video professionals, often there is little overlap into formal educational training. This learning module entitled “Foundations of Video Production” was developed to abstract the core essence of traditional film, or video production coursework and provide a practical program to get any level of educational professional “up to speed” with contemporary video production equipment, techniques, and best practices that can be adopted and implemented immediately in their own work, or in their respective classrooms. This learning module was delivered over the course of one week to the capstone cohort of educational technology graduate students. The aim of this learning module was to break down the video production process into its core elements; pre-production, production, and post production. Within each section students were presented with contemporary practical guides on the technology (both hardware and software), aesthetic components, and hands on active learning exercises. Attendees of this presentation will benefit from best practices on how to integrate video production learning modules into educational technology programs or coursework, and a review of the challenges and opportunities that were identified from the successful integration of this learning module.

[1] Bayram, L. (2013). Enhancing an Online Distance Education Course with Video. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 463–467.
[2] Borup, J., West, R. E., & Graham, C. R. (2012). Improving online social presence through asynchronous video. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 195–203.
[3] Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: an empirical study of MOOC videos (pp. 41–50). ACM Press.


New Promo Video for BA in Media Comm

To help increase the exposure of the BA program in Media Communications at Webster University the Netherlands, I created a short promotional video to serve as an attention-grabber, and a visual interest tool.  This short video was developed and rendered through Adobe AfterEffects CS6 last spring.  The visual intent was to showcase the four production tracks in the program offered at our campus.  To this end the video rolls through Media Communications, Interactive Digital Media, Photography, and Video Production.

The visual assets in the video are all videos, images, and graphics that are currently in use by the department in some form.  Part of the mission of this video is to showcase not only what students can study, but to show them this by example of using images, and other assets that are actually from the department. 

Project 5x5: a video vignette

What is Project 5x5?

Project 5x5 is a short and simple video project.  To shoot a 5x5 you need to come up with a story, or theme to use (this can be almost anything) and create 5 shots each 5 seconds long.  Only the original audio is to be used, no additional audio tracks etc. Further, no use of titles, transitions, or credits, just pure video.

Project 5x5 has been around on vimeo for some time.  The inspiration behind this post is the successful use of the 5x5 project to help teach video production students how to think in shots and to take a story or theme and distill it down to the bare essential components.  One of the main advantages to using this project to teach video production is the highly structured yet simple parameters for the video.  This allows students to focus on the steps and process of video production without letting the project get too big or complicated.  This project lends itself nicely to be paired with a storyboard project as again, the main parameters of the video are set and are short and simple enough that it is not overwhelming. This short project allows students to go through the entire pre-production, production, and post-production phases of video production in a short amount of time with limited stress or confusion.

For the project I assigned, I broke the assignment up into two main parts, the written portion and the video portion.  To complete the written portion, students go through the pre-production phase and develop a video "pitch" or concept that distills their story or theme into a one or two sentences.  Students will then prepare a short but descriptive storyboard to go along with the pitch.  Once completed, students move onto the production phase and shoot their 5x5.  When all of their shots have been filmed they then move onto the post-production phase to edit the final video together.  To edit the project, any non-linear video editng platform will do, for my class I had the students use Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, but any will do.


storyboard of iced coffee video
storyboard of iced coffee video

Behind the Scenes:

video camera recording coffee maker
video camera recording coffee maker

Video Tutorial:

Media Communications & Fine Art Orientation


To kick off the 2012 - 2013 academic year at Webster University Leiden each department was to present a short welcome/orientation presentation to the new incoming freshman and international transfer students.  For this presentation I created a short prezi that goes through the departmental overview.  The goal of this presentation was to showcase some of the great media and design aspects that continue to attract great students. Introduction video:

Here is the complete orientation presentation:


Happy Holiday Card - with stop motion LEGOs


I wanted to do something a little fun for this holiday season.  Rather than sending out traditional paper "Happy Holiday" cards, we thought it would be fun to make a little video instead.  It was a lot of fun to create, and it was a perfect excuse to get to play with some cool LEGOs.

The video was created by snapping a picture every 15 seconds during the building process, then combining them in Adobe Premiere to create the video.

DOCTRID Video - Behind the Scenes


On October 16th, 2010 the first annual DOCTRID International Interdisciplinary Conference was launched after many months of planning.  To mark the inaugural launch of the conference a signing ceremony kicked off the conference in which Daughters of Charity and five universities (Dublin City University, Michigan State University, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Dublin, and University of Limerick.) signed a Letter of Memoranda launching the new Research Center for Intellectual Disability.

I had the great pleasure of being invited to this truly amazing conference to capture the story behind the conference and research institute in a short documentary.   As a one man documentary crew I had to capture the best possible video and audio with very modest equipment and time.  This filming was my first official documentary shoot, and it was a wonderful experience in both the personal interactions with the wonderful people involved as well as the technical challenge of filming and capturing the story of this monumental conference.

The Planning:

Since I knew going into this project it would be a one man job from start to finish I had to ensure that I planned as much of the shoot ahead of time as I could.  I was able to work with conference organizers ahead of time to get an understanding of the flow of the conference and who would and would not be available for comment.  Given the platform of the conference and the unique challenge of shooting such a highly mobile documentary on a one-day-one-take type of scenario I had to carefully choose my equipment.  To meet the needs of the documentary and to also stay within my shoestring budget I had to choose very carefully the right tools for this job.  More on the exact equipment used below.  For this job I decided to go with a DSLR rig to ensure that I would get the highest quality images and sound with the maximum mobility needed for me to move from one area of the conference to another and setup quickly to capture the interviews and b-roll footage.

The Equipment:

The equipment I chose to take for this shoot was really simple, as that was one of the constraints and challenges of having barely any budget to accomplish the shoot.   For this job I used a DSLR rig setup for highly mobile video and on board audio recording and a pocket full of class 10 SDHC cards and Nikon EL3e batteries.

The camera I used was my trusty Nikon D300s with the Zacuto Z-finder and Rode Shotgun Microphone.  This setup allowed me to both hand carry and tripod mount the camera to capture an amazingly clear high def image at 720p and as well as capture high quality stereo audio without having to use wireless mics.  The Zacuto Z-finder proved to be invaluable as it allowed me to ensure tack sharp pull focusing (since the D300s does not have auto focus on video) and magnified the LCD to 3 times its native size.  The only draw back to the Z-Finder I had to deal with was one I caused myself by not ensuring I had the correct mounting bracket to work in conjunction with my battery grip, so I had to loose the battery grip while filming which turned out not to be too much of an issue but did mean that I had to carry a bunch of batteries in my pocket.  The Rode Mic performed wonderfully, I am still amazed at audio quality that mic is able to capture, even at a distance.  Being able to rely solely on a shotgun mic for audio was crucial given the  fast paced, limited time I had with each interview, setting up each person with a wireless mic was not an option, nor did I have an audio controller to monitor the audio levels.  While it would have been ideal to run a seperate audio capture the entire time with controlled audio levels etc. it was just not in the cards for this shoot, and I can't say enough how happy I was with how the Rode Mic performed.

The Challenge:

the biggest challenge for this shoot was that I only had one shot to get it right.  Since this entire documentary was to be filmed on one day while the conference was going on live, I had to execute my filming plan without the chance to "redo" any of the shoots or interviews.  While looking back, there are about a million things I would do differently, but that always seems to be the case.  Fortunately I was able to get most of the interviews planned and I did not run into any technical difficulties.

The second biggest challenge was to edit all of the interviews I had gathered down to a reasonable 10-15 min time frame.  This of course, took many hours of red eyed editing late into the night.  After many hours and a few consults to the conference organizers I finally released the final version of the video.

I was thrilled to coordinate with the folks form Fegan Films in Ireland to supply them with a finished European version (PAL) of the video to be incorporated into a published DVD of the conference.  I am very proud to have a finished piece of film on a published DVD along with the fantastic work conducted by Fegan Films.  Hopefully this is the first of many more short subject documentaries to come.

For More information on DOCTRID conference please visit their offcial website at

Cribs Video - MAET Style


CRIBS - This past summer during our summer Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program we (the instructors) decided to shoot a quick MTV style cribs video for our participation in the last installment of the student run weekly news.  It has been a tradition for the instructors to contribute a small segment in the last week of the news, and since we weren't about to disappoint we grabbed my camera and started filming.

One of the challenges that our students face consistently in their professional capacities is making the most of the equipment they can get their hands on.  In many public schools this means doing what you can on a shoestring budget.  So in the spirit of leading by example we used an minimalist kit to shoot this video.  While we didn't go super low-tech we did keep it very simple, no lighting kits, only one camera, one lens and some creativity.  This video was shot entirely on a Nikon D300s DSLR with the 18-200mm VR Nikor Lens and a single Sony wireless lapel mic.  The video was all hand held, with the occasional shot being held steady by attaching the camera to a tripod and holding the legs of the tripod against out bodies.

Overall, the shoot took us about 1 1/2 hours to film (including all the goofing around) and then a quick overnight editing job.  Given the fact that we started filming around 7pm the night before the video was due we were very pleased with the final result.

If you are interested in the MAET Program at all check us out... Masters in Educational Technology

Or follow us on Twitter - MAET

Capture this! - behind the scenes

Lecture Capture?

What is a lecture capture you ask? Well, its exactly what you might guess, capturing a lecture. Now the trick is to capture the lecture professionally so you can use that information at a later time.

I recently returned from a lecture capture trip in Shanghai China for the 2009 Coca-Cola Food Safety Conference. I figure what better way to share the information about what lecture capturing is than to share my experiences first hand. Here are a few videos that will help explain what a lecture capture is.

Equipment Overview:

Behind the Scenes in Shanghai

There are many different ways you can capture a lecture or presentation. Typically the "low-end" consists of just a screen capture of the presentations with audio. Normally I am required to capture at a high production value so that includes the presentation slides, audio and external video that are then edited together to create a digital asset that can be used for sharing, dropped into online learning environments, or burned to DVD as training materials.

Typically to capture a lecture you need the following items

  • Screen capture software (Screenflow, Camtasia, etc.)
  • Audio recording device (hard line, wireless mic, built-in laptop mic, etc.)
  • Video camera (stand alone camera, web cam, etc)
  • Still camera (optional)

When on location, there is really only one rule...everything ALWAYS goes wrong. Your laptop will crash, your camera will freeze, your batteries will die, you will lose power, your tapes will jam, your hard drive will tear itself apart. So to prepare for the certain uncertantity of equipment failure I can offer three suggestions, all learned the hard way.

  1. Use the high quality professional equipment where possible. This seems like a no-brainier but seriously, spend the money for high end gear, its expensive for a works, and it works better than the cheap stuff. This is especially true with microphones and cameras, do not skimp on those, buy the best your budget can afford.
  2. Test your equipment and setup thoroughly, again this seems like an obvious statement, but in the heat of the moment when you are supposed to capture a once-in-a-lifetime speech or presentation and something goes wonky you better know how to set that white balance, or fix that audio level on the fly quickly without having to "figure it out".
  3. Have a backup plan. I can promise you this, at some point something will go wrong, so plan ahead. You should have a plan in case each component fails. If your camera fails what will you do? If the laptop freezes up, what will you do? If your batteries drop on you half way through a presentation and they were supposed to be fully charged what do you do? You should have answers to all of these so WHEN they happen you will be prepared to handle it right there on the spot and you can minimize the "damage" of losing footage.

More and more often grants for workshops and conferences are coming with stipulations that the information given at these events be shared openly for the greater good. This is where a lecture capture comes in, with the lecture capture you can preserve the information presented so participants can get access to the information again, and so those who were unable to attend the actual event can still benefit from the information presented.

For this event, the content created will go directly on a website used for food safety training for industry professionals. You can see the agenda, pdf versions of the presentations at once the produced lecture capture videos are finished they will be posted to that site.

If you are interested in learning more about these types of captures drop me a comment and I'll get back to ya.


Labor Day Video Shoot

In celebration of Labor Day this year, a few friends and I piled into a car and headed up north to Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge.  We went to the bridge to participate in the 52nd annual Bridge Walk.  Every year (for the last 52 anyway) they shut down the bridge on Labor Day and people from all over the country (and World) walk across the bridge.  It is quite the spectacle.  We were lucky to have great weather all weekend, we did have a nice patch of fog roll in on us as we were crossing the bridge, so that made for some interesting atmosphere to both walk and photograph.  The following video is a short compilation of the some 1000+ images I shot while on my trip.