Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#48: Check it Out!

So, you’ve been introduced to the tools and have tried the exercises. How do you apply them in a practical way at your branch? While there are many options and applications for YouTube-scale video productions, this module will demonstrate and describe one branch’s video project and the steps taken to move towards a fun and successful final product.

This summer, the Kingwood Branch Library staff had the idea to put together a monthly video production entitled, “Check It Out.” Modeled after the system’s SRP video reviews, the idea would be to include not only the staff but also members, volunteers, Friends of the Library, and anyone in any way associated with the branch. Materials would not be limited to books or to items only in the Kingwood Branch collection but would be all-inclusive of items in the HCPL system, including A/V titles.

After forming the idea, step two involved, of course, publicity. A few flyers, a poster, and small postcard-sized inserts to place in hold envelopes were created and printed. Personal, face-to-face contact is the best publicity, so book groups, volunteers, and other regular members were approached to inquire if they would be interested in recording a brief review, which would last on average a couple of minutes, give or take. At the outset of the project, staff would initially contribute most of the reviews due to the time it typically takes to make the public aware of new activities and programs. (Note: If involving library members in your video project, be sure to have them complete an informed consent form, just as you would if you were capturing a photo.)

Step three utilized the technical tools, which were essentially a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker. Almost any compact digital camera now features a video recording function, and every camera is a little different. So, getting familiar with this function may require pulling out the camera manual and experimenting. At Kingwood, a simple, compact 2-year-old Sony digicam was all that was necessary. Prior to recording actual reviews, several brief scenes were captured with the camera and then individually trimmed and stitched together in order to create a title/opening for the “Check It Out” program. At this stage, it helps to think like a director in terms of recording several scenes that will later be snipped and edited on a cutting room floor. Think, “Scene three, take two . . . action!”

Selecting audio was step four once the video opening was put together. For this, Jonathan Coulton’s website was visited since his music is copyright-free. The first 18 seconds of his song “Skullcrusher Mountain” provided the perfect sound. The song was downloaded and clipped in the appropriate spot in “Timeline” view in Windows Movie Maker so the music would not continue playing during the reviews themselves. The same 18 seconds were used for what would be the credits video at the end, which consisted simply of a blurred background of the HCPL Knowledge Card. (Note: if you only need a background for text in your video, as in a title or credits screen, you don’t have to shoot seconds or minutes-long video of the background. You need only take a picture of the background, import it into Movie Maker, insert it in the appropriate spot in your movie, and extend the length of the pic in “Timeline” view for as long as necessary.)

In step five, the reviews were recorded. A simple background was created and set up behind the reviewer, who needed only a chair and the item itself (and a cue card holder, in case they wanted to read from a short script). The camera was set atop a tripod to keep it steady (strongly recommended!) and recording started. (Note: Make sure the camera is close enough so that there isn’t a lot of unnecessary empty space, attention is focused on the subject, and the microphone is able to adequately pick up what’s spoken.)

In the final step, the reviews were inserted in between the opening and credits videos, text was inserted to name the reviewers and their item, and transition effects were selected to smooth out the movement from one clip to the next. After saving and letting ebranch know it was finished, the HCPL symbol was inserted into the video, which was then uploaded for all to see and enjoy on the Kingwood Branch page’s YouTube viewer.

And that, in a nutshell, is how “Check It Out” was done.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Discuss with your staff possible video project ideas for your branch. Determine what you would like to try and who would need to take part in it.

  2. After deciding what you want to do, figure out how you want to do it. Get comfortable with using your camera’s video function and the video editing tools you want to use. For any content you want to include that is not created by you, make sure it is not copyrighted or that you have permission from the creator.

  3. Stop practicing and start producing! Have fun!

HCPL Staff:Have you completed all three posts in this module? Then Submit your Registration of Completion If you did the extra credit exercise, don't forget to check that too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

#47 Video Challenge: Post Your Video to YouTube

In post #46 Movie Maker Basics: You Oughta be in Pictures - or Making Them! we successfully created a video. But, the whole fun of videos is sharing them. This is an extra-credit challenge post for the video module. It is not a required part of the module, but if you complete it (along with the rest of the video module) you will get an extra 1 hour of training credit. For this extra-credit challenge, you'll upload the video you created in post #46 to YouTube and then post it to your blog.

There are a number of video sharing sites out there, which were discussed in Week 9 of iHCPL, but YouTube is definitely the king of video sites, so that's what we're going to use for this exercise.

Steps to Upload a video:

  1. Create an Account
  2. Login
  3. Click Upload (it's on the menu bar)
  4. Click Browse - a window will open, find your video
  5. Edit the title, description, and tags. Also select a category for your video. This is also where you can decide if your video is public or private. If you're sharing it on your blog, it should be public.
  1. Click Save Changes

Note: You'll probably have a quick upload, but it takes a little while for YouTube to process your video, so be patient. To find your video again, click Account - My Videos.

Embed your video in Blogger
  1. In YouTube, find your video and copy the text in the "Embed" box.
  1. Log into Blogger
  2. Click the Edit HTML tab
  3. Paste the Embed text you copied from YouTube
  4. Click Publish Post
Here's the video I created, posted to YouTube:

If you created an Animoto video in post #45: Making a Video, you can also upload that to YouTube (this is just FYI):
  1. Login to Animoto
  2. Click My Videos
  3. Click Play on the video you want to upload
  4. Click Export to YouTube (you'll walk through several steps to allow access)
  5. As on YouTube, you'll edit title, description, tags and select if you want the video to be public.
  6. Click Export Now - Be patient the upload and processing can take a few minutes.
Congratulations, you are now a published filmmaker!

This post brought to you by Grace Lillevig (ADM)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#46 Movie Maker Basics: You Oughta be in Pictures - or Making Them!

As discovered in the last post, Movie Maker is video editing software available on Windows based computers. In this post, we'll see a demonstration of the basics of using Movie Maker and get helpful tips. For most web videos, a great deal of high end technical equipment isn't necessary; just use your digital camera and your computer. The basic thing to remember is to keep your videos brief. No more than three minutes is best!

Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a long one! For best results, read the notes and watch the demonstrations to help you with this exercise.

First Tip: Organize your files
Once you've moved your files from your camera to your computer, place them in project folders. For example: all of the Reel Reviews created for Summer Reading Programs were placed in a folder under My Documents titled "Reel Reviews." Organization up front is the best time saver while editing your video.

Starting Windows Movie Maker

  1. On the left hand side of the Movie Maker window you'll find most of your options for importing your media and working with that media. Under number 1 on that side is the importing of the media. Under number 2 are the effects, transitions and titles.
  2. On the top menu bar, the two most important buttons are Tasks (to return the side menu to the list of options for getting and working with the media) and Collections, where you can organize your clips for access.
Demonstration - Part 1 (opens in new window)

Story Boarding/Story Timelines

Place your media on the Story Board or Story Timeline area at the bottom of the screen by clicking and dragging. These files can all be interchanged, cut, edited and adjusted for volume at any time, so don't feel you have to get the order correct the first time.

  1. Cutting - Play the clip to the portion you want to cut and pause. Under the "Preview Screen" on the right hand side is a button that splits the scene in two at the place you paused. Once that is done, you can delete the portion of the scene you don't want by right clicking on it and selecting "Delete."
  2. Shortening/Lengthening Clips - You don't have to cut a clip to shorten it, you can select the edge of the clip you want to shorten, then click and drag it to the length you want. This is most useful on the transitions and audio/music tracks, but can be used for still images as well if you want them to be longer or shorter.

Demonstration - Part 2 (opens in new window)

Special Effects

Once you are happy with the order of the clips, it is time to get to the editing and special effects fun. Make sure you have the Tasks listed on the left hand side. If not, select "Tasks" from the top menu bar.

  1. Selecting "View Video Effects" will show you the variety of effects you can add to your visual media clips. To add one of these effects, just click and drag the style to place on top of the media clip you want.
  2. Selecting "View Video Transitions" will show you the selection of transitions in the upper center window that you can place between each of your visual media clips. You can also lengthen or shorten the transitions, as mentioned in the previous section.

Tip #2: Select Transitions to Fit Your Video

Popular transitions include "Fade In" and "Fade Out" and all of the various sweeps. However, if you have an upbeat video, consider some of the more unique transitions, such as "The Flip" and "The Curl."

  1. "Make Titles or Credits" has a list of options where you can add animated text to your video, such as a title at the beginning, credits at the end, or text on top of visual media clips. In each of these you can select from a variety of animation styles as well as a variety of fonts and font effects. Title overlays show up on the bottom track of the Story Timeline, so you can place them exactly when you want them to start and time how long they should last.

Tip #3: Beware of Bright Colors

Some colors on top of others may look very cool, but try to make them contrast as much as possible in order for those who are visually challenged to be able to see the text. White lettering on black background works very well, unless the video genre calls for something else.

Demonstration - Part 3 (opens in new window)

It's Time for Music!

Many factors influence music in video, one of the most important is copyright. Be sure to have permission or look for those artists who create music under Creative Commons licenses. Jamendo is a good website to use for avoiding copyright problems, although some searching is involved.

  1. Click and drag the music clip you imported on to the audio/music track that is visible in the Story Timeline at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Edit this track the same way you edit visual media. Shorten the track by selecting it, the drag or cut using the cut button underneath the preview screen. Be sure only the audio track is selected, or you will cut the visual clip.
  3. Right click on the audio track to select fade in or out or adjust the volume. Cutting and adjusting volume is very helpful if you come to portions of your video that have vocal portions. Cut the sound track at those places and lower the volume just for that segment.

Tip #4: Keep your overall feel in mind.

If the video topic is serious or subdued, don't use a lot of quick cuts or bouncy transitions.

Demonstration - Part 4 (opens in new window)

Saving the Movie File

Once you're happy with your video and have previewed it through its entirety in the preview screen on the right, it is time to save the movie file.

  1. From the Menu Bar, select File>Save Movie File (shortcut Ctrl+P).
  2. Save to your computer -- highly suggested no matter what you do with it afterwards.
  3. Name your movie and select where you want it saved.
  4. The default settings are usually best, but if you have limited computer space, you can sacrifice some quality by making the file smaller.
  5. The computer will process the information and (if you have "Play Movie when Finished" selected) play your movie in Windows Media Player as soon as you click "Finished."

Congratulations, you're almost a filmmaker!

Exercise: Practice with Movie Maker and create a 30 second video from scratch and write about your experience in your blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

iStar's Filming Tips

As a budding filmmaker, here are some tips to get the best possible footage.

Filmmaking Tips by Jeremy Cathay
Can't see the video? Check it out on YouTube.

The following are tips compiled from Filming & Editing Tips from the Digital Video Club and Beginners Guide to Video Editing - Basic Filming Tips

Before Filming

  • Think ahead
  • Plan a beginning and an end.
During filming
  • Take lots of footage, you can always edit later
  • Shoot scenes in a logical manner rather than shooting one long unmoving scene
  • Limit moving and zooming
  • Use a tripod, if possible - it makes the camera steady
  • Change positions for different scenes - it makes it more interesting
  • Try to frame your subject before filming
  • Make sure there's enough light before shooting
  • Keep sounds in mind.
For guidance on specific film techniques (e.g. what a long shot is, getting better sound quality), check out YouTube's Guide to Producing and Uploading Your Own Videos. This guide is in partnership with Videomaker.com and includes filmed examples of techniques to help you make better videos.

Getting the video from your camera to the computer

So, once you've filmed the footage for your masterpiece, you'll need to get it from your camera onto the computer. It will vary based on the type of camera you used, so please check your camera's user manual.

Monday, October 6, 2008

#45: Making a Video: An Overview

© 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation

Since sites like YouTube brought user-generated video to the public's attention, folks all over the globe have been creating and posting videos on the web. The videos you can find online run the gamut from professional quality films to fun home movies. With a little know-how, anyone can create a video online, share it with the world, and get feedback from viewers. You want to try right? Right! So let's get started.

We will start with an overview the tools you can use to make and post a video on the web. In this post, we will go over some of the cameras out on the market and review some of the editing software available on your PC or online. The next post will give you step-by-step instructions on making your own short video with Windows Movie Maker. The final post will give ideas and examples for using videos in library projects. Library staff who complete the entire video module will receive two hours of training credit.

Don't worry if you don't have a video camera--most branch cameras do have the capability to take short video clips.


The Flip - http://www.theflip.com/

The Flip is a point and shoot camcorder with a built in USB plug. Available with one or two gigabytes of internal memory, the Flip allows 60 minutes of recording time. The rechargeable batteries last about four hours, and the Flip includes it's own built in editing software. You simply plug the Flip into your PC or laptop and you can create a custom mix of the recordings you made. You can also take still shots from your video and a sharing feature allows direct upload to YouTube. Three different models are available: the Flip Mino, priced at $179; the Flip Ultra, priced at $149; and the original Flip, priced at $129.

The Flip is an inexpensive option for libraries who want to incorporate video into their online presence. HCPL owns a couple of Flips which staff can borrow from the eBranch for your branch video projects! For more information on the Flip, please visit their website at http://www.theflip.com/.

Digital Cameras

Digital cameras, sometimes known as digicams, are cameras that can take both still photographs

© 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation

and video. Some, but not all, will record sound. Many allow you to display your photos or video on a small screen built into the camera--if you aren't happy with what you see, you can delete it and no one has to know you took a bad picture! Images and video are stored on some kind of removable storage technology, most likely some form of flash memory (like an SD card). One downside to digital cameras is that they have very high battery requirements, and many are being designed to be so compact that it is difficult to develop a battery that is small enough to fit, yet large enough to power the camera for a decent period of time. They also tend to only allow you to record 30-45 seconds at a time, though depending on your memory card, you may be able to record several short clips.

Images and video are downloaded to your PC through a cable. You can then resize and manipulate the content as you desire, save it and upload it to the online sharing site of your choice.

There are a huge number of brands and models to choose from, and prices can range from under $100 into the thousands. Buying a digital camera is an investment just like buying a computer, so reading reviews on the cameras in your price range may help in narrowing down your choices. Consumer Reports or CNET Reviews may be helpful in learning more about the digital cameras currently on the market.


Camcorders are recording devices that contain both a video camera and a video recorder, hence the name camcorder (previous video recording technologies had separate devices for recording and acquisition). They record both video and audio, and up until the 2000s they utilized tape as their means of recording. Camcorders these days use "tapeless" recording on a memory card. One advantage they have over digital cameras is that most camcorders allow much longer recording times (usually anywhere from 60 minutes to 20 hours, though some may only allow shorter periods).

As the consumer market prefers camcorders that are portable and easy to use, consumer grade camcorders often sacrifice recording quality in favor of these features. They also often lack manual control for adjusting volume control and other settings. However, they offer many options for downloading your footage, such as through a USB cable or Firewire, and most consumer camcorders come with some light video editing software. Nearly any modern PC can be used to edit video footage taken with a camcorder.

A wide variety of camcorders are available on the market, ranging in price from under $200 to well into the thousands. Just like with a digital camera, it is a good idea to read some online reviews or the Consumer Reports on the models you may be interested in before you buy.

Video Editing Software

Windows MovieMaker

Windows Movie Maker is an excellent choice for editing short videos. It comes with all Windows PCs and is relatively easy software to learn. The drag and drop interface allows you the ability to cut and arrange your footage, add fun special effects, set your footage to music and add title cards to your movies. Once you are through editing, it saves and converts your movie to WMV (Windows Media Video) format and saves it to your computer. You can then upload it to the video sharing site of your choice.

Microsoft's website has a how-to center with guides that explain how to use the various features of Windows Movie Maker to edit and polish your footage: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/default.mspx

Animoto - http://animoto.com/

Animoto is a simple to use, web-based movie-making service. You just upload your photos, choose the music you'd like to use, and Animoto does the rest. It is a very easy way to make a cool music video using your existing photos. Animoto would be great for making a slide show of a fun program that took place at your branch!


After reading through the information above, take a look at the websites for the different video editing options and write about what you find. Which one do you think you will find most challenging to use? Which one appeals to you the most? Can you think of some fun library projects that you might do using one of these editing tools?


Use Animoto to make a music video with some of your existing photos. Then post it on your blog. Have fun!

This post was brought to you by Beth Krippel (ATA), Jim Johnson (KW), Abby Buchold (ADM) and Linda Stevens (ADM).