Thursday, August 20, 2009

7/26/2009: Commingling Video and PowerPoint with Jing, or, "I achieve some knowledge from the school of hard knocks and post it for the world to see"

Whew! I finally manage to record three takes of video #2A (Using a Compass). I try ad-libbing the script on one of the takes, and it turns out so well that I simply transcribe it. Filename for the script, in Microsoft Word, is C:\!data\allyears.sta\videos\002aUsing_a_Compass\002using_a_compass_ver01.doc.

I finally have gone through the Jing procedures enough times that I feel comfortable systematizing them. Here are the steps for mixing PowerPoint and video in Jing:

1. Open PowerPoint, QuickTime, and Jing if they are not already running. Maximize the PowerPoint application window, and open the first slide (with the View Ruler feature disabled) and the zoom size set at 83%.

2. If Jing is running, the sun icon should be displayed at one edge (by default, the top edge) of the screen. Mouse over the sun and click on the leftmost “ray” to define a capture area.

3. Click and drag to define the capture area as 800 by 600. Start at the upper left corner of the PowerPoint image area, and maneuver the orange crossbars so that only one pixel of black border is visible to the left of the vertical crossbar and above the top of the horizontal crossbar. Then drag the crossbars to the lower right corner. It takes some patience and jostling to get 800 by 600 exactly. The digitizer pad is easier to use for this purpose than a mouse, that is for sure. If you mess up (which is very easy to do), simply hit the arrow icon to redefine the capture area.

4. Click the “capture video” icon. After the 3-2-1 countdown, let Jing record a few seconds of video, and hit the pause button. The Jing capture frame remains on the screen, but now (unlike before) you will be able to switch to other applications.

5. Switch to QuickTime (using Alt+Tab or another suitable technique) and open the video you wish to include in Jing. It is apparently normal to experience a long delay at this point, possibly because of memory paging caused by Jing.

6. Press Ctrl+1 to set the QuickTime window to normal size.

7. Important: Set the volume slider in QuickTime to zero. (Otherwise, any sounds present on the original video will bleed into Jing when you record your narration.)

8. Drag on the QuickTime title bar and position the upper left corner of the visible part of the video window so that it exactly coincides with the upper left corner of the Jing capture window. Resize QuickTime, by dragging on the lower right corner, until the video just fits in the Jing capture area.

9. Cancel the Jing capture by clicking the “X” button with the circle around it.

10. Switch back to PowerPoint using Alt+Tab or other suitable technique.

11. Repeat steps 2 and 3 only.

12. Click the “capture video” icon and record the first few seconds of the real video, with the opening slide displayed. Important: Make sure that the timer is really running. I botched quite a few takes because I started talking before Jing was actually recording. The 3-2-1 countdown, incidentally, is not a reliable indication of when Jing will begin recording, since there are apparently some additional delays introduced by memory paging.

13. Click the pause button and switch to QuickTime.

14. Click the “play” button in QuickTime, followed immediately by the “record” button in Jing. Start narrating the video.

15. Don’t be nervous! If you muff the narration, too bad. Simply go back to step 9 and try again.

16. At the end of the narration, click the pause button in Jing first, then (optionally) in QuickTime.

17. Switch back to PowerPoint, using Alt+Tab or other suitable technique.

18. Change to the next slide in PowerPoint. Record again in Jing, with narration if desired.

19. Repeat steps 13-18 if desired. Warning: There is a 5-minute time limit in the free version of Jing.

20. When finished assembling the video, click the stop button (square symbol). There is now a long, long wait while Jing renders the file. Unfortunately, there is no feedback of any sort on the screen; the user is simply supposed to know, I guess, that this is what is happening.

21. Eventually, Jing displays a different set of buttons, one of which is a floppy disk icon. (This is an anachronism, but it can be changed by clicking on the Jing gears, a.k.a. Preferences.) Click on the disk icon to save the file in .SWF (Shockwave Flash) format to a suitable hard drive location. To avoid having to navigate to a destination each time, you can edit the preferences (third ray from the sun, click gears, gears again, “Customize Jing Buttons,” disk icon labeled “Edit ‘Save’”) to set Desktop or another specified folder as the destination. The default file name each time will be in the format YYYY-MM-DD_HHMM.swf, but you can type take1, take2, etc., or whatever else you prefer, immediately before clicking the save button.

22. Review the video in a web browser so that you can see what the user will actually see. For example, in Firefox, I can type C:\!data\allyears.sta\videos\002aUsing_a_Compass\take1.swf into the URL window and have the video displayed. The advertisement at the end is unavoidable, but at least there is a nice fadeout to indicate the end of the video before the Jing logo appears.


With Jing, the biggest problem is that there is no editing capability. Thus, Jing is no good for people who get nervous or muff words, unless the video is very short. That is probably just as well, since there is a 5-minute limit imposed by the software anyway. No doubt the makers of Jing are hoping that some users will shell out $299 for Camtasia Studio, a “big brother” to Jing that provides real video editing. Jing Pro, at $14.95 a month, is still too expensive for educational use as I envision it: an entire faculty and a large chunk of the student body engaged in daily video production would run up too large a bill.

Other problems I have experienced with Jing include problems with lack of sound (even after double-checking that the microphone was not muted), videos that had the first few seconds lopped off, and huge output file size. I managed to work around the first two by trial and error—and since I have not hand the no-sound problem recently, I have to assume it was a newbie mistake, akin to the preposterous mistakes students make in algebra when they don’t know what they’re doing. However, I do not have a solution to the file size problem yet. [Note added later: I purchased a compression solution for the file size problem. Please see blog entries for 7/27/2009 and 7/28/2009 to see how I successfully used Swishsoft’s $79 Swift Optimizer program.]

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