My AEE DV course - Learning Journal Andrew Mahan - Editing Video for eLearning

This is the Adobe Generation Professional (AGP) Digital Video for eLearning course offered by the Adobe Education Exchange (AEE).

Creation of this Adobe Spark page as a personal "Learning Journal" is part of the rubric for fulfilling course requirements. The weekly assignments are posted here in italics.

The completed (thus far) video assignments are posted to Vimeo and can be played by clicking a button like this one.

Clicking the "real buttons" will open my videos in another tab which can be closed (disconnected) after viewing. I offer this explanation as I received some feedback stating that " ..there is only one of your videos there, the next one is somebody else..." All of my videos are there it is just the way Vimeo queues them up. The site automatically offers a popular or trending video as next up for entry level accounts. I could upgrade my account or just embed the videos in this page, but; this is the way I have it set up for now.

The following posts are reflections, class assignments and general notes regarding my adventures in Digital Video for eLearning.

If I have learned anything about everything it is that there is always more to learn.

This "Journal" will document travels through this phase of the adventure. The first assignment requested a " more than 20 second personal introduction video using a smart phone camera." I don't have that kind of phone so I used my web cam. I edited and compressed the piece for posting on Vimeo with a third party (not Adobe or other well known brand) application. The main difference I can see between the selection of "good" and "best" for compression (export) is the file size. For the applications best (highest) the file weighs in right at 82 Megabytes and for good (lowest) it is 10.8 MB. I posted the 10 megabyte movie.

Maybe there is a determinable difference in quality to the trained eye between 82 to 10 MB, but I sure do not see it.

The following button is an active direct link to that video posted on Vimeo.

The class 1 assignment is to...

"...create a short montage video sequence using still images based on a single color - ensure you have a variety of images. Arrange the images in your timeline in order of least intense to more intense representation of the theme color. Trim your clips so that the cuts are faster (ie. shots are shorter) as the color intensifies. Try and make the exported video 15 seconds exactly."

A good friend (mentor) told me "Never practice! Do everything as if it were the last chance you will ever have to do it. Make it as ready for sale [a finely polished product] as you possibly can," or something to that effect. That advice has worked out quite well the last 40 some odd years, except as a student in a classroom curriculum. I have come to understand quite well that a professor or instructor that has to grade dozens (hundreds) of assignments must have a set criteria in order to assess the level of accomplishment (grade). BUT; since I do not believe this assignment is being "graded" I can see where it can be applied as a component of a project I am currently working on. So; I am going step outside the line of the specific requested criteria for the assignment just a bit .

Rather than one color I applied the three primary pixel colors of a computer monitor display; Red Green Blue (RGB). Just to really throw a stick in the spokes I did it backwards, (GBR) in an attempt to "increase intensity." I have been told Greens and Blues are usually associated with a calming or soothing disposition and Red most often indicates a warning or critical, a danger degree of intensity. I modified the colors of the originals in the CC Lightroom application.

The original posting was silent as I did not see anything in the assignment or the on-line (live) classroom session regarding a mandatory use of a sound track. Upon several requests in the peer review sector of the course I added an audio track to this video assignment. It does seem to reveal the "escalation" and increased intensity I initially intended with just the visuals. If you would like to compare the difference, just turn your sound off and play the video without it.

A special thank you is in order to the individuals that suggested sound. The audio version and the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution for sound recording snippets used are at the following Vimeo location.

Assignment class 2 Video

"Create video montage sequence based on found video content that follows a theme of your choice. Like assignment 1 this project should show an escalation of intensity. This escalation can be through shot type, shot length, subject matter, movement, sound or some combination of these elements. 20 seconds exactly. MP4 only."

I searched with a general idea (theme) in mind and downloaded multiple videos. The concept being to go from XLS (extreme Long Shot) - Planet Earth to Arial Cities with a truck in to CU (close ups) of pedestrians with an industrial montage interlude and then to pull back out to Planet Earth, etc.... I reviewed all of the videos multiple times in Bridge (filmstrip profile) for basic cuts and story-line. I wrote a quick narrative and recorded multiple takes in Audition until it hit right on 20 seconds.

The script - narrative draft

We're all in this together

ask a neighbor

Where are we going

ask a neighbor

How did we get this far and where do we go from here? Ask a neighbor.

Because there has never been a time when the neighborhood was tighter and we do have more than enough tools to make it all turn out OK.

We are all in this together,

Where are we going ? How is it going to turn out?

We can just ask a neighbour

The rough visuals (cuts) edit in Premiere was right at 66 seconds, well over what is needed. Jevon O'Neill in the online - live class suggested using longer than needed cuts as an initial method of rough assembly. I then brought the 20 second audio sequence in and trimmed, cut, used clip time/duration to speed up and in one instance reversed a clip, and layered the visual sequences until they hit the 20 second mark.

The initial concept was simply to use "found video" to learn basic video editing of various shots. This final draft has pretty much turned out to be a blurp blip blur, but hey; that's life sometimes.

Maybe I can work out a bit more definition and a more meaningful pace with more and more hours of work on it, but right now I got to get onto to the next module in this course.

The video (thus far) can be played by clicking the button directly below;

Class 3 Assignment: Shot Reverse Shot

Create a video sequence utilizing the shot reverse shot technique (and obeying the 180 degree line rule) to present a knock knock joke. Use your own video content. Alternatively create an interview. 30 seconds maximum.

OK, OK so I went 32 seconds, 2 seconds over the maximum time. I understand the significance of the time limit factor. If you're contracted to do a 30 second spot or a 24 minute episode for a TV show, that is what it must come in at exactly or you'll never do lunch with the big people in Hollywood again. But; to be honest, I need at least another 12 to 20 seconds more to tell the whole story, that's what I call the 'writers cut.' The out-takes or cut scenes you get on a DVD extra or the special features Menu. These cut scenes due to hitting time targets are sometimes simply amusing but often add more dimensions to a character or explain a plot hole or two.

Ah, so many stories but so little time

My other main snivel is I have yet to pull off a satisfactory Chroma Key. There are some glaring artifacts in this piece, mainly due to attempting to keep shadows in order to maintain a 'realistic' effect. The "Ultra Key" in Premiere Pro is amazing and an extremely powerful set of tools but as everybody that pulls off keying with pristine splendor says, " got to set up shots and light your screen [scene] correctly right from the very start." Maybe I can get some of those "special" lights and stuff in the next budget. Maybe I can tweak it a bit finer in After Effects, but that's another story and another deep tool I've yet to dive into. Maybe I should just work on getting it set up right in the first place.

In setting up the different shots and attempting to pull off an entertaining scenario, I started out with "Adobe Story CC". This is another amazing and powerful CC tool that I have a lot to learn about. When set-up properly, any changes made to scenes, shooting scripts, characters, props, locations etc by anyone authorized to work on the script are automatically propagated across the reports and logs . I simply used the 'three panel' template to set up a story board with stills from the webcam I would be shooting the video with.

Then I set up this camera angle and basic shooting script in Fireworks CS6 as follows directly below.

The prior to shoot checks and after shoot notes and stuff are to the immediate right. Dropped a lot of shots in the final edit (par for the course) and was not able to squeeze the time enough to employee some of the more fluid intermediate or transitional shots I set up.

This is my quick and dirty "Shoot Sheet" and the before and after scribble up. Even with all of this set-up and notes to self, I still managed to frame three consecutive (MS, MCU, and XCU) to the wrong side of the frame. Caught the error while reviewing shots in Bridge and did a re-shoot the next day.

Even with my technical shortcomings (Chroma Key etc) I believe the gist of the assignment was met. I will clean it up and maybe add a musical bed, but as stated previously, that's another story for another day

For your viewing pleasure please click the following button for my 30 (+2) second offering of the

Class 4 Assignment: Cut on Action

Create a short video sequence that utilizes cutting on action to establish pacing and fluid movement in a scene. Film your own footage to use in the edit (either using the storyboards provided or draw your own). 20 seconds maximum.

There are a lot of reflections that are bouncing around in my head about this (and previous assignments) but getting them typed out is the real task of the matter. I only type about twelve words a minute and half of those are typos or misspells. So; a more comprehensive offering of my reflections is still coming soon to a web page near you.

As the sole producer I hope you do not feel I am over using the same crew and characters too much. The thing is they are all the budget would allow. They may not be the best camera operators, directors, actors, script writers, gaffers, carpenters, electricians, drivers, prop masters, stunt persons, assistants to the stars, continuity, lighting tech or general crew and staff members but hey; they work really cheap. Not only are they cheap with regards to salary (zilch) but there are no issues with labor laws, unions, OSHA, craft services, lodging, transportation, etc. There is probably still some sort of TAX situation but I'll get around to that in April.

They may not be all that good, but they are really trying. Very trying.

This video assignment was completed following the original requested context of a maximum of 20 seconds. Most of the footage is from the previous, original "shot reverse shot" assignment that I was not able to utilize due to similar timing constraints. Trying to pack in too many visuals in a rapid time frame directly impacts the pace and mood, so I have employed the complete "cut to action" fluid transitions originally shot on the cowboy (pay no attention to the baseball cap boy, he is just filling in space here.)

Just for the heck of it I went ahead and embedded this video. Don't know if that's a better way, a more user friendly method or even just another option.

There are two other completed videos NOT posted here. The first also follows the requested context of a maximum of 20 seconds. This is new footage shot in the lab with a new, but possibly somewhat recognizable character that is looking at the world through 'rose colored glasses.' (google 'rose colored glasses' if that sounds presumptuous) He is the character named "Interactive Multi Media Man" that introduces the posted video above. Once again I toyed with the old Green Screen - Ultra Key fun and games aspect. A suggestion by a fellow classmate to use the "aggressive setting" with Ultra Key helped a great deal but it seems the real solution remains in setting up correct lighting, shot framing and such in the first place. Go figure.

The third video is twice as long, 40 seconds, and perhaps a bit more of a story-line is conveyed. It's actually, mostly, just the first two 20 second videos combined but I feel it gets somewhat of a vague story, if not simply doubled up assignment fulfillment presented.

The fact of the matter is, I feel I may have stepped outside boundaries of the requested criteria for assignments, maybe just a little too often in this course. I trust that will be taken as creative instinct and not simply rebellious disrespect.

In his book "The five C's of Cinematography", Joseph V. Mascelli stated "You have to know the rules to break a rule, otherwise you are probably just making a mistake." Hopefully I have learned enough to be just breaking the rules and not just piling up mistakes.

Class 5 Assignment: Title and Screen Capture

Create a video sequence that can be used in a learning situation to teach a skill, an idea or a concept, include screen capture and a simple title. 90 seconds maximum

Whoa!!! 90 seconds for this assignment! That's over four and a half times the space allowed for most of the previous assignments. I thought this would be a snap, tons of time. 90 seconds! Whoa!!!

I still managed to come up with far more material than I could utilize and had to squeeze it into (what seemed so at the onset) the huge 90 second time frame. The main concerns; a desire to keep a quick, fluid and interesting pace but not to seem rushed or frantically trying to beat the clock. Hard to say which concern was accomplished as I know how much more I wanted to include but the audience may feel it is too much already.

Anyhow; the 'simple title' was developed using the "...Essential Graphics > Titles > Modern Title" template. I enjoyed exploring and experimenting with the various elements currently offered in this tool. This feature is undoubtedly destined to become a robust and proliferate addition to the Premiere Pro tool-set, particularly due to the fact that 'templates' can be created in After Effects and be made available directly from this work space.

I decided to go ahead and embed this video also, I hope that it works for you. The only problem I encountered with previous embedded video is one of my browsers partially hides the close button under the menu bar at top of the browser. That is one reason I like to check any "new" display function in all available web browsers and platforms before deployment. If this happens for you, just scroll up to the upper right of the display where the close X should be and hopefully you will see it peeking out from under the menu bar.

The Class 5 assignment - Title and Screen Capture Video;

The following is a bit more info from the pop-up PDF referenced in the video about the players "back plate" and general appearance modification. Perhaps I will be able to offer a more refined and contemporary instructional aide after the "Training the Trainer" course.

Oh yeah, some of what I had to leave out of the 90 second video is that there is a full screen button (type the Esc key to return), time line control, and the player itself can be resized by simply dragging the corners.

The next slide after this refers to a bit more intricate explanation of the XML file itself.

The XML file and how the text and links inputs display directly in the Jukebox

A special thank you to Justin Dike of for the original player and his many other fantastic tutorials. Justin is described by as founding " of the internet's first video training websites." I have yet to be disappointed by any of the lessons and files I have purchased from Justin over the years.

Final assignment

Create a simple personal reflection on what you've learned during the course. Explain how it felt to be a student, what worked for you, and what was difficult. Consider how you might use your new skills in your classroom or workplace. Think hard and be economical with your words. Keep it sharp and to the point. Don’t forget to include a link to your Learning Journal.

The Premiere Pro interface is somewhat intimidating at first take. The plethora of options and tool sets is simply overwhelming, but I suppose that should be expected with such a powerful application. The way this course was presented the intimidation factor rapidly became a comfortable familiarity with context and content processing. All of the materials and live classes were expertly tuned to deliver solid on point instruction and generated many points to ponder and possibly apply to future projects.

Video is a powerful teaching tool that when created correctly becomes much more than a passive observation platform. Well done video can stimulate responsive participation and even an escalating interest in a given subject. Most passive observers and even active participants are quick to note that a video may be unworthy but few can tell you exactly why. Many of the process and procedures introduced in this course deliver the language and elements to define and develop a well done and worthwhile production. The hours (days, weeks, months?) of set-up and execution that may be required to produce an instant of absolute and resounding clarity is seldom known to anyone other than the developer. The multitude of shots and minutes (hours) of footage captured to achieve a fluid, split second transition is seldom if ever known to an audience. In the fleeting instants it passes before them, they usually simply either like it or not. It seems to me the real work of an editor is to make the work so transparent that it delivers a result that is completely worthwhile yet not so obvious to explain exactly why, or even why not. The possibility of seamlessly capturing an ongoing interest is a side effect that is hard earned. If a picture can be worth a thousand words, video is usually thirty pictures a second (and audio!) Powerful stuff for explication.

I believe it is Ben Robinson in his original TED talk regarding creativity in schools that stated "...creativity is imagination applied." From the projects I've seen posted by fellow participants in this course, creativity is alive and thriving and there are some very fortunate students out there that will become active participants or at least responsive observers.

This Learning Journal will most likely remain a continuing tweak and re-tweak project for me even though this is the end of the excellent AEE AGP DV Spring 2017 course. be continued


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