In last week’s Thing, we explored vlogging and vodcasting – two highly personal forms of visual media. What are the alternatives if you lack the appetite for appearing on screen? In today’s post, we’ll investigate two ways of turning your existing content into video. Using free software, you can take your blog posts or PowerPoint presentations and send them on a new adventure. And we’ll consider the best tools for those of you who want to try something a bit more sophisticated.
Turning your blog post into a video
As we discussed back in Weeks One and Two, Twitter is a great way to publicise your blog posts. It’s even more effective if you use video, too. With a free online tool called Lumen5, you can import a blog post, highlight the key areas, and let the clever software locate suitable images. Once you’ve tweaked the layout and text, you’ll have a short video to share on social media. It’s extraordinarily simple to use. You can even add a soundtrack for maximum impact.
Converting your PowerPoint slides into a video
No doubt you have several PowerPoint presentations lurking on your hard drive. Did you know that it’s easy-peasy to turn them into videos? It takes a matter of minutes, and you don’t need any additional software. Based on PowerPoint 2016, here’s what you do:
1. Go the Transitions tab and set the timing for when each slide should advance (you can check the Apply to All box if you want this to be standard across the whole presentation). You might need to experiment to get this right. Remember that most of us are very impatient and will want it to move at a lively pace.
2. Add any transitions between slides, such as a fade. This will make your presentation more film-like and engaging. Stick to one type of transition, though, else it’s overwhelming for the viewer.
3. Once you’ve finished tinkering, click File > Save As then choose Video from the drop-down list.
Alternatively, you can record yourself giving the presentation. If you have a microphone, you can add the narration as well. Click the Slide Show tab, then Record Slideshow. All your timings are captured, along with mouse gestures. You’re effectively giving your presentation without an audience. This is a handy way of practicing your talks, too.
Head over to the Office 365 website for a detailed tutorial. Once exported, your video is ready for uploading to platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Or you can do some more tweaking in video editing software.
Video editing software
If you want to do something more sophisticated, you’ll need to get acquainted with a proper video editing tool. This will allow you to add impressive effects, combine content from multiple sources, and output in different formats. Adobe Premiere is one of the best-known editing packages. Although it’s expensive to buy, your university might have an institutional subscription. A cheaper – and slightly friendlier — option is Camtasia Studio, which is available for both Mac and PC. You can download a 30-day trial to see whether it’s right for you.
An excellent free alternative is OpenShot. It lacks the heavyweight features of Premiere and Camtasia, but it’s a breeze to use. You’ll be producing videos in a matter of minutes.
With these tools, you can combine different clips and images, and also avail yourself of sound libraries such as SoundSnap to incorporate effects and background music. For more information on voice recording, take a look at Thing 5: Podcasting.
It’s never been simpler or cheaper to create video. With a small amount of time (and a modicum of patience), you can produce compelling content that’ll get you and your research noticed. And you’ll gain some valuable technical knowledge along the way.
This week’s activities:
- Turn your blog post (or someone else’s, if they’ve given you permission) into a video with Lumen5. Alternatively, you could try it with an excerpt from a book that’s in the public domain.
- Convert a PowerPoint presentation into a video. Experiment with some sounds and transitions to make it come alive.
- Play with Premiere, Camtasia, or OpenShot to learn more about video editing. There are lots of tutorials online to get you started.