Using Your iPhone as a Document Camera

Its not just a document camera that you can use your iPhone for when on a Zoom, MS Teams or Skype call. It can also be as another camera. But here I show you how to use it as a document camera but you can just do the same if you want to use it for something else. That something else could be an extra angle when you are teaching cooking, music, science or anything else where another view could be useful. I find it useful when I am teaching.

So I have this ring light that has a smartphone holder that I use and recommend for filming, they are reasonably priced and give a nice light too. Then I was using my iPhone as a second camera to get close ups and did this often in Zoom, Teams and Skype. It then seemed obvious to use the ring light that can be angled along with the smartphone so that I point it in almost any direction.

If you want to show something from a book or perhaps something else then you can have it on the desk next to you and the smartphone can be looking down or maybe from the side. Then you can switch the camera.

For my iPhone I have used two different apps, both free and can be found on the App Store, NeuralCam Live and Elgato EpocCam.

Here is a video I made to show you how it works.

Posted in Education, elearning, Iphone, MS Teams, skype, Zoom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zoom: Switching Chat Off and On

If you are running a webinar attendees can sometimes use the chat to ask a question when you want them to use the Q&A. You might have reminded them but it is easy to do and click on the wrong option. Your attendees might be enjoying the webinar and in their excitement click on chat. To prevent them from doing this you can switch the chat feature off.

It is also possible that you might not want the attendees to interact at all and have both the chat and Q&A off.

Or are you just holding a meeting and don’t want the participants distracted and chatting to each other or even to you.

You can switch it off and it is done on the Zoom website, The thing is when you switch it off it is switched off for all your Zoom meetings or webinars until you switch it on again.

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The ATEM Mini Could Change the Way You Teach Online

This past year the classroom has moved online and this can be a useful way to teach. It is not the only way and as we return to normality online teaching still has its place. In fact I have been helping universities since 2005 create e-learning material.

One of the downsides to teaching online is having just one camera and for many subjects adding another camera or more can really help. I’m sure there are some subjects that come immediately to mind like music, cooking, science, art, dancing etc. And this does not need to be fiddly.

Part of the problem is connecting another camera and how do you connect more than one camera. Also isn’t it going to be expensive? In the world of video the device I use here, the BlackMagic Design ATEM Mini is actually quite reasonable. I have some links below where you can buy one and see the latest price.

The ATEM Mini does allow you to connect up to four devices that have HDMI, so this can obviously be four cameras but you can also have a computer with an HDMI port, iPad, iPhone, gaming devices and anything that has HDMI or an adaptor to plug in HDMI. I do this by plugging in either a laptop or iPad so I can show my presentation or show images, video or websites. In another video I will show you how I do this with a green screen (link coming soon).

In this video you will see how you can use it.

Link to:

ATEM Mini:

Posted in elearning, Filming from home, teaching, video, Video production, Working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Editing with Green Screen Using iMovie

If you are a Mac user then iMovie is a great and free editing program. It even allows you to do green screen which used to be notoriously fiddly, in fact it still can be.

So you know that filming with a green screen background means you can superimpose your subject, which could be you, on to any background. This is great as you can have the background of your choosing which can look more professional and also can help with your presentation. If you want you can have a background about what is being talked about and just like weather forecasters refer to what you have in the background.

What you need is a green background, you can use blue but green is more popular. The background can be something like a green sheet or a pop up one like I use in the video, these are more expensive but if you need to be portable or want to quickly set it up or put it away then this might be more useful. The pop up one also stretches the fabric leaving no creases. Editing with green screen is easier if it is flat. Even lighting also helps. It can look even to the eye until you look through the camera.

In this video I am too close to it, this is deliberate as I wanted to cast a shadow on the green screen as it is best not to have any shadows, however, iMovie handled it really well. The easiest way to get rid of shadows is to move away from the background.

Posted in chromakey, Filming from home, filmmaking, Green screen, iMovie, Special effects, video, Video editing, Video production | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using the Windows Camera App to Record Video

You’be probably used your smartphone to record yourself but you can also use your Windows PC. Let’s face it many of us are having to record ourselves.

The advantage of using the camera in your computer is you probably already have it propped up whereas a smartphone might need a holder or propping up on a pile of books. The disadvantage is the cameras are not always as good as a smartphone camera but nevertheless can do the job. If you are using a laptop the built-in camera might be at a bit of a low angle so it is not the most flattering angle looking up your nose. You could always raise it up, just make sure you put it on something stable and not on something where it can slide off.

This built-in app is easy to use and in the video below I show you how to use it.

Posted in Filming from home, filmmaking, teaching, Video production, Windows 10, Working from home | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trick to Getting a Good Result When Using a Teleprompter

How many of you have had to come to grips with filming from home over the past year? It seems it has been many. Once you come to grips with that you’ve then realised it would be nice to have some notes or maybe a teleprompter, just like news readers have. Wouldn’t that be great not having to memorise the lines.

Here are some tips that I think will help you out.

  1. Remember you can edit so why not just remember small bits at a time. This can really take the pressure off.
  2. If you know your stuff, and I think you do, don’t try and script it out, just have some bullet points, you know what to say. This must be what many do when using PowerPoint or Keynote to do a presentation. I know for me the slides are a good prompt when I’m teaching or doing a presentation.
  3. If you want some notes or a teleprompter then you will want them as close possible to the lens as possible. If you are too close it might show that your eyes are looking somewhere other than the lens. If you move back it helps with the eyeline. Make sure you don’t go too far back.
  4. If you are using a script on a prompter then it is good to have read it through out loud and make sure you are familiar with it. This helps make it feel more natural rather than sounding like you are reading it.
  5. Move a little, watch news readers, they kind or move their head a bit, it helps with eye movement so that your audience doesn’t see your eyes moving as you read each line.

In the video below I am using my iPhone as a prompter above the camera, you can use other smartphones, tablets or an iPad with the appropriate holder. If you feel like you want to take this a step further then you might want to invest in a prompter that sits in front of the lens, this is how news readers and other TV presenters do it. I have a video below the first video showing how to use one and will be doing a video very soon on how to use one.

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Solving Audio Problems in Zoom

Zoom has certainly helped many of us through an extraordinary year and it looks like it is going to continue to help us, for me it has saved me a lot of travelling time, but yes, I am looking forward to seeing people face to face.

There have been moments when we’ve either watched as someone is struggling to be heard and it has been more than just having mute switched on. Or perhaps you have been that person.

There are a few things that can be causing it and the first thing is to make sure things like microphones, speakers and headphones have been plugged in properly. Sometimes it looks like they are but just need a little extra push to make sure.

It has been mentioned that when plugging in a microphone on a Mac, and the same could happen on a Windows computer, that it cuts out the speakers, this is because it uses the same port for microphones and headphones. The thing to do is choose the speakers in the settings or if you are using Bluetooth headphones that they are selected. In the video below I show how to do this.

The settings is probably your next stop to see that the correct microphone and speaker is selected.

In this video I go through those settings and mentioned what else you can do.

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Using Practice Session for a Zoom Webinar

Zoom webinars have become very popular this year and I have helped run many of them along with virtual conferences. One of the things I find useful is the practise (UK spelling) session, it allows me to get all the panelists there, chat through what is happening, check their cameras and microphones and if they need to share their screen make sure they know how to do that. Obviously we don’t want the audience to see that, if I started the webinar normally then if someone joins early they would be able to see and hear what is going on. With practise session on they won’t be able to see or hear us until we start the webinar.

In this video I show you how to set it up and also some advice on getting the best result.

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How to Get Even Wider Angle Photos on Your iPhone

iPhones are pretty good for getting wide-angle photos and some like the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro have an extra lens that gives an extra wide view. However, there are times where you want to get even wider, useful for landscapes or those group shots.

The défault setting for photos on the iPhone is 4:3, that is the ratio that gives the photo its shape, this has been popular for decades. It is known as the aspect ratio. The 4 by 3 means that for every 4 pixels across there are 3 pixels down, so if you have a picture 4 inches across it will be 3 inches down, or centimetres. Whatever measurement you like really.

Because of Instagram square pictures have become popular and the aspect ratio is 1 by 1, although you can change the aspect ratio, its just the default is 1:1.

To get your photos to be wider you want wide screen, I’m sure you have heard of it and that is 16 by 9, and that is what I’m going to show you how to do in in the video below.

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How to Get Better Quality Zoom Recordings

Zoom is used a lot now for meetings and webinars and I’m sure like many you record them to edit and add to your website, YouTube, Vimeo or other social media platform. The quality of the recordings are ok and they can be a bit awkward to edit. However, you can get better quality and a video file that is easier to edit.

If you have tried to edit one of these files you might have noticed you press play to check it on the timeline to find the right point to edit and there is a delay and the same applies when you pause it. Like me you probably have missed the point you want to stop at. That’s because the video is very compressed and your editor has to uncompress it and it has a lot to do. The less compressed the fast it can be edited. Problem is the file size is bigger.

You will also find the quality is better is you choose to have a file that is easier to edit.

Here are my three tips for better quality Zoom recordings.

  1. Record to your computer, that makes it local file.
  2. Optimize for 3rd party editing software.
  3. Turn the HD option on for your camera. Oh, one other thing maybe use a camera better than the built-in webcam, your iPhone or Android is a good option, here’s how you connect your iPhone
Posted in filmmaking, Video editing, Webinar, Zoom | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment