Last week, trapped indoors by wintry weather, I accomplished something I always wanted to do. I made a movie! Not the JJ Abrams kind to be sure. Mine was a 3-minute video about my writing life, with visuals, music and voice over, about which I am proud.
Digiwriting.com invited me to post an author interview on its blog, and I thought making a video response would be the perfect opportunity to notch up my skills. I tried making a video in November, but my head was too stuffed with the upcoming holidays and family obligations. The experience was a disaster. Discouraged and frustrated, I never finished that video.
There were fewer distractions this second time around. A one-hour workshop at the Apple store also unraveled intricacies of iMovie and Garageband that I couldn’t master on my own.
It took two weeks of slow progress. I learned something new at every turn. Where to find affordable royalty-free music and photos. How to decrease volume on the music track, so it didn't overpower the voice over. How to splice audio clips, synch tracks, and write YouTube descriptions. These were all huge concepts to conquer.
To keep from giving up, I turned it into a game. Seeing how many new tasks I could master in a day. Celebrating small successes. Streaming the Hallelujah Chorus when I finished a major work chunk. Seeking a sympathetic shoulder from ever-patient JM or cyber-screaming frustrations to authorly colleagues.
There is great joy in mastering personal challenges. I will never climb Mt. Everest. (In fact, I don't even want to!) My movie-making journey was my mental Everest, and I gladly tick it off my bucket list.
Please have a look at I Am a Writer HERE. I’d be over the moon if you’ll leave a like or comment.
I won't claim it’s easy to create videos.
But there are many user-friendly, free apps for creating videos as a writer, parent, educator, and even a child.
Native applications and online websites
I used the software below in creating I am a Writer. I didn't want video clips---only photographs, text-based visuals, and transitions with the 'Ken Burns' effect of panning in and out of a photo. And while I use Apple products, Windows has similar offerings also listed below.
Four FREE, User-friendly Digital Storytelling Apps
These four film-making apps will stir your creative juices, and they have extensive tutorials and friendly help desks in case you get stuck. Upgrade for a slight fee to access longer videos, broader music selection, etc. Share by embedding code on YouTube or copying links in a text message or email.
You’ll learn how to use these apps in a heartbeat and have fun, too. Yes, you will!
Narration with Photographs and Visuals
For Home: Both apps are great for personal use. Need a thank-you card for Granny? Take photos of the kids with the gifts she sent, and have the children record their thanks for her to see and hear. Or send your vacation photos, and record your voice chatting about family escapades.
For School: Teachers, need to explain a simple concept? Or invite students to demonstrate what they learn? Whip up a simple video in no time with Voice and Shadow Puppet. These apps offer free extended features to educators, such as maps and open-source image search.
In this example of involving children in video production, fourth-grade Alyssa narrates a Shadow Puppet video for my Sweet T and the North Wind book trailer.
Music with Photographs and Visuals
Animoto and Powtoon are free online software programs that work on any computer. They require a bit more technical skill (but not too much, so do try them!) Both apps add splashy transitions and music to videos. However, they do not offer narration, as far as I can tell.
I send short thank-you videos made with Animoto to students after my author visit to their classroom. The videos tell the story of our time together and capture the students' excitement about books and reading.
In addition to home and school use, these video-making programs would also spice up business presentations.
Please join the conversation in the comment section.
How might these video-making ideas work for you?
What additional suggestions or resources can you add?
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Karen Emma Hall
3/8/2015 10:09:04 am
Cat your movie making journey is so amazing! You made it look so easy and so much fun. I can't believe you had done this so quickly, well done for climbing this Everest :)
3/9/2015 07:03:14 am
You've created a great resource for others to use, thank you. And well done on mastering all those new skills. That's awesome. Just as soon as I get my computer to play the video properly (the computer's problem, not the video's), I look forward to watching it.
3/10/2015 07:34:09 am
Cat, you did a wonderful job with your video. All these tidbits and tools you have shared should come in handy when I am ready to make a video. I will be book marking this one for later!
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