Paul R. Pival, Public Services Systems Librarian at the University of Calgary gave a relaxed rundown of web-based and client tools for creating online screencasts, which can be used for tutorials on-the-fly (think chat refrerence) or embedded in a web site or blog. The audience was mixed in their of experience, and that led to some lively questions and answers..
The bottom line: practice the library law that states, “Save the time of your user.” Screencasts are ideal for those situations you need to explain over and over, they are available 24/7 if embedded, and can be put up quickly on YouTube (recommended) or other sharing sites like Blip.tv. They can also be tagged, commented and shared (or borrowed, if you find a good one that works for your library.)
Free tools that impressed me: Jing (can be annotated), Screenr (tweet or delete); Screencast-o-Matic and Screen Jelly (no downloads.) Hulu allows you to save flash videos and do stuff with them.
SnapZ Pro was suggested from the audience, but offers no post-production editing.
Paul recommend we use YouTube as our video host; HD or HQ files are bigger but have better resolution.
Camtasia Studio is the cadillac and comes w/ 30 day free trial. It can import other videos for editing. Shows when the mic is recording and can recognize your webcam so you can introduce yourself before recording the demo. Can record audio afterwards, and the latest version can separate audio and video and edit one or the other separately.
It is important to have a good microphone; USB recommended over analog, and Logitech makes a decent one for about $30.
Scripts: do several dry runs, identify the main points, then record. Don’t worry about perfection, because most students are willing to get the points quickly – you can edit later, if needed. If you read from a script, be careful about extra sounds like page turns.
My family doesn’t have a history of video – we tend to take only snapshots, and lately, people have been hard to catch. I decided to look on YouTube for something other than people. We’ve been having an ongoing discussion at home about whether we really need a dog (no), so I looked online for a cute dog video to enjoy. This one shows a Kerry Blue Terrier like one I used to have playing with a skateboard. Enjoy!
By chance came across TAR’s ASL Vlog and immediately thought the format would lend itself remarkably well to some library applications. The ones that come immediately to mind include self-service tutorials, ASL self-service tutorials, a video version of our Dial-a-Story, and program announcements/infomercials. All we need is a little webcam with a built-in microphone … and staff could take turns …
- I loved Westmont Public Library’s new fiction effect – totally cool! Setting clickable areas in the image that link to the library’s record for the title makes it easy for visitors to request the books. Wonder how they manage hold lists when they get really long …
- Hennepin County’s teen trading cards were sweet – great way to recognize teen council members – or volunteers.
- I wasn’t so charmed by the Colorado College’s Tutt Library’s photos – they seemed aimed more at staff, and were unedited snapshots.
- I liked the use of images on the Kansas City Public Library’s site – just enough to entice visitors to click, but not too busy. I also liked that the main image that changes has a selector underneath that indicates how many photos there are, and gives visitors a way to cycle through them, or go back to one they missed.
Podcasts: At first, I was bored by the voice-only podcasts; but found that I really enjoyed the great storytelling of some of the children’s librarians, and especially the guided teen book reviews of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library. The presence of the librarian lends credence to the reviews, and keeps the kids on-track and on-target. I was impressed by the standardized introduction which mentioned the library’s name, and the parts of the review: title, author, plot outline, memorable incident, target audience, and number of stars.
One thing I found annoying was the varying volume levels – some were almost inaudible, even with all my volumes turned up to “kill.”
Videocasts: The more you show, the more you need to have a showable product. It was evident that some libraries took more time with editing, and, while that can’t improve the quality of the speaker/performer, adding visual interest does make up for some shortfalls. I listened to a guitarist, whose presence and song left something to be desired, but the camera effects were splendid! I watched an author speech (cooking with the kennedys) whose presentation both lacked passion and suffered from a boringly monotonous camera.
While videocasts would probably engage today’s young people and provide a way to attend a program vicariously, I believe there has to be something there to engage the viewers, or it sinks to the level of city council meeting videos.