Tuesday, May 29, 2007

LecShare Pro

I bought the LecShare Pro software, and converted my keynote address from the ePortfolio Hong Kong conference into several different formats. The results are posted on a single web page. I was told by the developers of the LecShare software that "the slowness of importing is actually due to the way MS Office works on the Mac. When the new version of Office comes out we hope that Microsoft's API is much more responsive."

I am very impressed with the output of this LecShare Pro software. The quality of the video is very good, and the process is much easier than using the other strategies that I have tried.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Slide-to-Video Software so far

Here is the Macintosh software that I have tried so far, and the issue with each one:
  • GarageBand's Podcast track -- works well, if you export PowerPoint to individual JPEGS (changing format to square image), import them one-by-one onto the Podcast track. The quality of video is marginal.
  • iMovie -- works very well, but not efficient -- you also have to export PowerPoint to individual JPEGS, and then adjust length of each slide to match audio on timeline.
  • PowerPoint's export to video -- which does not synchronize audio with slides unless you embed individual audio clips on each slide... then it works very well, but not very efficient. And the files are huge
  • Keynote's export to QuickTime -- same issue as PowerPoint (embed audio in each slide), but much slower process and QuickTime clip doesn't have controller at the bottom (not sure if there is a setting I am missing)
  • ProfCast -- which only allows live recording ($30) which might work for some, but I like to edit my iPod recordings before adding the slides.
  • LecShare Pro -- which is the most promising so far, but slow and quirky - it works with PowerPoint, saves its coding into the PowerPoint file or the audio file. That tool also lets you convert these slide shows to accessible HTML and uses both pre-recorded audio or lets you record directly in the program for each slide.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Convert narrated slide shows

I am starting to use my iPod and Belkin microphone to record my presentations at conferences & workshops. I am experimenting with strategies to turn these presentations (primarily in PowerPoint) into video so that I can post them on my website. I started using GarageBand last fall, converting each slide into JPEGs and importing them into the Podcast track in GarageBand. I wasn't happy with the final quality of the video, although the result looked fine on an iPod: here is my half-hour keynote at the ePortfolio conference in Oxford, England last fall:

Earlier this month, I presented a closing keynote address to a conference in Finland while I was on a cruise (I sent them a DVD with the keynote presentation, and called them from the cruise ship for Q&A after the presentation was over). Since the keynote contained many examples of digital stories, I recorded the audio with SoundStudio and used iMovie to put together the video, inserting full DV versions of each story in between my slides (converted to JPEG) with audio narration inserted. I was pleased with the quality of the videos, although I thought the slides were grainy.

I am looking for better ways to automate this process. When I search the Internet for software to convert PowerPoint to video, I find mostly Windows software. I know we have ADE licenses for Impatica for PowerPoint, although it converts PowerPoint into web pages - I do not see a video option.

I also downloaded a new product called LecShare Pro (with a Mac version!) which converts PowerPoint slide shows into these different formats: QuickTime, MPEG-4, Accessible HTML, Microsoft Word, audio only. Last night, I took the audio from the 45 minute keynote from a session that I did in Hong Kong in March, synchronized the audio clip with the slides and converted the whole thing into several formats. Since I have not registered the software ($69), there is a watermark on all of the slides, but it shows what is possible. The audio is also not compressed in the trial version, so the file is really too large to post on the Internet. But the process of synchronizing the audio to the slides was fairly straightforward, once I got started. The software worked directly with PowerPoint, but was pretty slow opening and saving files.

The software also allows recording audio directly, slide by slide, into a file. This option might work very nicely with ePortfolios created in PowerPoint. Students could do audio reflections on their portfolios with this tool, then convert them for either WWW, DVD or CD publishing.

I am looking for more Macintosh software that will help me take my audio clips and my slides, and put them together into different output formats.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Call completed

Through reasons unknown, I could not receive a phone call on the ship, so I bought a phone card and was able to place a phone call from the ship's office phone, where I also had a wireless connection for my computer. I called the conference organizer's cell phone and he was able to connect my voice into the sound system in the room. I was able to say hello. There were no questions, but I gave them a few parting words, told them where I was cruising, had set up a blog, and welcomed comments and emails if they had any questions. I heard them clap, and then he hung up the phone. It was all over by 7 AM (my time on the ship).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

First VideoFunet conference in Finland

I am doing a "virtual" video closing keynote presentation at the first VideoFunet conference in Finland. My presentation is entitled, "Digital Stories and ePortfolios: Documenting Lifelong and LifeWide Learning." I put together a 48 minute video and a "How-To" page for this conference. If participants have any questions, add a comment to this blog entry.

Technology on the High Seas

For the last 10 days, I have been on a cruise, from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle (yes, through the Panama Canal... it was incredible). The technology for supporting the virtual presentation above has been a challenge. I tried three times to create a DVD in PAL format. For some reason, iDVD kept freezing, so I compressed the video with the best quality and uploaded a 1.6 GB MOV file to my server.

I also sent a data DVD to the conference organizers before I left. The conference presentation is actually in Finland on Friday afternoon (early morning for me, off the coast of Mexico between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas). I had a challenging time getting the right telephone number to receive a phone call in my room (and I'm still not sure of exact GMT). So, if I get a phone call, that will work. Otherwise, I am inviting any conference participants to either send me an email with their questions or post a comment to this blog entry.

Why not use Skype? Because the cruise line blocks all voice connections over Skype, they say because of bandwidth issues. Their Internet access is by satellite. Also, my Internet access costs me 25 cents per minute. I bought a plan for 500 minutes when I got on the ship the day I arrived. That has worked OK for eMail and the occasional travel blog entry. I am averaging a half hour a day. At one port, I was able to get Internet access for $6/hour, and was able to have a Skype conversation with my daughter in Budapest.

On my Mediterranean cruise last year, I used iWeb for my 2006 travel blog. I had a lot of trouble with uploading the files to my .Mac account over the slow satellite connection. This year I am not taking as many pictures or any shore excursions, so I decided to take a simpler approach, setting up another Blogger blog. I do have two hours of video of the day we crossed the Panama Canal. Some of it is as interesting as watching paint dry (or water raise up by gravity feed, or lock gates open/close), but I should be able to edit it down to the key scenes.