As we settled into this first year of student-created video morning announcements, it was easy to see the many possible directions for this project. My challenge as a teacher-advisor has been to keep it simple enough that students can continue to do the majority of the production. But it is also an excellent opportunity for me to experiment with and demonstrate tools that teachers might want to use in the library or in their classrooms.
I was quite excited to try a green screen, although I knew it could push the editing beyond the reach and time-constraints of our student team. I chose to use Black History Month as a chance to experiment with the green screen and tie it into student learning for a limited period of time. I guessed at the beginning of the month that our student video team would not have time to do the green screen editing but that it would be a chance to showcase the tool to our school and gain experience so that I could advise teachers if they wanted to use it for classroom projects.
My goal was to feature a different location significant to Black History each day of our morning announcements. I asked teachers if they had suggestions and I used my own knowledge to select locations from African continental history to civil rights history to contemporary and local events significant to Black communities. I added a three sentence description to each script the day before and selected a picture to overlay behind our student anchors. Then I downloaded DoInk Green Screen App for less than $5 and got to work!
Here were some challenges and discoveries along the way:
- We do not have the capacity for very high quality green-screening, but it still looks neat! The green screen I put up is a plastic table-cloth that easily reflects light. When the iPad re-adjusted focus or student camera-people changed the angle of the camera the overlaid image would get grainy or our students’ would be a little bit see-through! Some ideas to work on: I would like to try using fabric to see if it absorbs light better. A film-maker also recommended putting cloth over our lights to disperse the light more. I’m not sure if there is a way to do this without violating fire code!
- I needed to use multiple apps to edit and then upload, which was time-consuming. DoInk does not have a way to add text or captions. This was frustrating. So once our student editors finished adding the opening title to our announcements in iMovie, I would add an image credit, then export the video to DoInk, add the background, export the video to Camera Roll, then upload it to Google Drive. These steps took more time than I’d hoped. As I look forward, I am not able to continue to do this every day. I plan to reduce our green screen “travel” to once a week and look for ways to simplify these steps. Perhaps other green screen apps would allow us to do all videoing and editing with the app.
- As I copied images from the internet, I realized it would be good practice to acknowledge where the images were coming from and give credit. This added another step, but I felt it was an important one. I would put the website URL into iMovie before exporting the video to our green screen app.