Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Virtual Travis: Producing My Video Presentation

By Travis Good

What do you do when you just can't be there in person? That's a question I had to answer recently. Due to a family commitment, I wasn't going to be able to attend the July General Meeting but I still wanted to deliver on my commitment to talk about "Little Apps." This is the story of how my Mac allowed me to be in two places at once.

Since I couldn't present in person, I prepared a video presentation using my MacBook. Most recent Macs have a video camera and microphone. All modern Macs come with iLife, which includes iMovie and Photo Booth. With little more than the hardware and software that came on my MacBook, I set out to build my presentation. In the end it turned out to be quite an easy project, and something I'm sure you could do too.

The process was straightforward.  First I planned the presentation. Then I (1) created the video segments, (2) pieced them all together, and (3) saved the result as a QuickTime movie.

The General Meeting presenters' guidelines were to limit comments to 15 minutes and to cover at least three "lovable" programs. After selecting my three applications, I had to define the timeline for my 15 minutes. I needed an Intro (opening) and Outro (closing) to bookend my movie. In between I would record a video segment for each program to which I'd transition with title slides. In the end, my timeline looked like this:

Intro > Slide 1 > App 1 > Slide 2 > App 2 > Slide 3 > App 3 > Outro

Next I had to create the segments. The Intro and Outro were an easy process. All I did was to record myself talking to the camera in my MacBook using Photo Booth. Piece of cake, right? Well, to be honest, while the process was straight forward, it required multiple attempts to satisfy myself that I'd done an acceptable job. However, rerecording represented no cost other than time, so I had no hesitation about filming until I was satisfied.

The remaining segments were made using the only software I had to pay for: Ambrosia Software’s Snapz Pro. This program allowed me to make movies of my screen activity while narrating. Snapz Pro made it possible to show you my programs in action as I explained how they worked and why I liked them. Viewers wouldn't have to imagine the program I was talking about; they could see it before their very eyes. Using Snapz Pro's image capture I was also able to create the three transition slides.

When done, I had eight video segments in eight video files.

Now it was time to assemble the pieces, and to do so I used iMovie 08. For simple and fast movie making, this is a great tool. I was able to easily import the eight segments, arrange them in proper sequence, and apply refinements. I knew I wanted to fade out of the Intro and into the Outro. I knew I wanted a clean swipe from title slide to video narration. I knew I wanted a cube rotation between applications. While this all sounds fancy and perhaps difficult, it absolutely was not. iMovie 08 made all these "fancy" touches easy.

After my edits and refinements were complete I was ready to burn the movie to a CD. This too was a snap using my MacBook. From within iMovie 08 I chose the output format, I inserted a blank CD into my Mac, and I told iMovie to burn the movie onto the CD. A few minutes later I was done. My presentation was ready for viewing. I could effectively now be in two places at once.
If you missed the presentation, it is on the Pi Web site:

Little Programs I Love.m4v (iPod compatible format, 66.8 MB; right-click to force the movie to download to your hard drive)