27 April 2013

Video recording the classroom - iPhones and bulldog clips

I have been trialling different methods for recording lectures. My institution lacks equipment and systems to easily capture lectures. As a teacher, we pretty much have to do it ourselves.

Many teachers complain that good video or audio capture is impossible without the right equipment, but the reality is that it’s already in your pocket. 

Come to think of it, technically my DSLR isn't a dedicated video camera either. 

In the camera app, the iPhone volume buttons will trigger the shutter. Plugging in a pair of headphones means you can use the headphone buttons as a remote trigger. 

The downside is the sound will now record through the headphone, but this can be useful also as you can leave the microphone on the desk forward of the camera to capture better audio. If you use this trick, be aware you might need to edit the audio to get the best output. The best is to actually record the video and audio separately and recombine them in iMovie.  This is actually not that hard, but you will need to do the whole "action clap" to correctly time the audio and video. 

I use an iPhone as the camera and my old iPod as the audio recorder. I use another small bulldog clip to pin the headphone microphone to my chest. Apple probably never intended their headphone be it as a lapel mic, but they are by far the highest quality I have found without spending thousands of dollars. 

Bulldog clips have two problems. They starch and the iPhone screen will registers a “touch” by the pressure from the clip. Using a tissue buffer will overcome both problems. 

Sometimes you can have a problem with the focus and exposure resulting in weird colours and blurry images. Simply tap and hold the screen and the iPhone will lock-on to the key object meaning that you moving in front of the object will not disturb camera. 

The iPhone 5 is a capable machine, but the great processor and slimmed battery means horrible battery life. Conveniently you can purchase external batteries on eBay, meaning you can take power wherever you go. 

My battery cost about $30 and can "refill" the iPhone twice. God bless eBay. 

Bulldog clips neatly hold your camera in place, and there is always a keen student in front row who would be happy to point the camera in the right direction as you move around the classroom. 

Comments? Other handy tips?  Let me know!

-Tetracarbon out. 

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