By Katie Chirhart
However, while attending TCEA’s (Texas Computer Educators Association) annual convention I dropped by a workshop focusing on beginning your own school-wide newscast for less than $200. The presenter made it seem so easy and the equipment and experience needed was minimal. I figured it was worth a try.
After a few months of training children and practicing with a variety of equipment and software, I unintentionally came up with four successful, inexpensive ways to record a news broadcast with elementary students. Each has its own pros and cons and may work better for your school environment depending on your resources, knowledge, and equipment.
Some prior experience with video editing is a bonus, but not necessary. If your students are anything like mine, you probably have a handful or more of students who can teach you.
My personal goal was to find a technique that incorporated as many student jobs as possible. My school takes pride in offering students a wide variety of leadership roles, therefore, it was very important for me to find the method of news broadcasting that allowed for the most student participation.
As a result, the last option listed is the method I will continue to use, as it’s the best fit for my school. Here’s what I learned, how I got where I am today, and how you can try it too.
I experimented with three recording devices—an iPad, video cameras (non-HD), and webcams. The video camera was quickly tossed aside as it became too complex and the quality of the recording was not great. The video quality and ease of use was significantly improved with the iPad and webcam.
Regardless of the recording device you choose, I highly recommend using a tripod. A tripod keeps the device steady and allows for height adjustments while reducing the risk of equipment damage.
When using an iPad to record, I use the The Padcaster ($399). The Padcaster provides protection for your iPad and also easily attaches to a tripod. If the Padcaster is too pricey, designate a sturdy location to record from. I intentionally chose a webcam that was tripod compatible as well.
With these in place, I began trying various methods. Here’s what you need to know.
Option 1: Default camera app, import into editing software.
Resources: iPad, default camera app
Process: Record the broadcast using the default camera app on the iPad and import the recordings into a video editing software for final revisions.
Option 2: Green screen app.
Resources: iPad, Doink GreenScreen app, Green screen
Process – Students open the Doink Green Screen app ($2.99), choose an image or movie to place in the background and record the newscast directly from the app. To learn more, watch a short video tutorial here or go to https://goo.gl/PEDNXR.
Option 3: Record with or without green screen and add edits within the app.
Resources: iPad, TouchCast app, GreenScreen (optional)
Process: This method requires Touchcast, a free app. Using this app, students can record with or without the use of a green screen and add titles and other effects while recording. Additionally, simple edits can be made within the app. To learn more, watch a short video tutorial here or go to https://goo.gl/H820xJ.
My Top Pick: USB connected webcam and recording software
Resources: a USB connected webcam, MimoLive software on computer
Process: I recommend using a USB connected webcam, rather than using the webcam preinstalled on many computers. Using the camera installed on your computer forces you to face the computer towards the people you are recording, resulting in an awkward position for CameraKids and also making adding effects during the recording more challenging.
An added benefit of using a webcam is that students can use MimoLive software. MimoLive ($200 annually) allows students to create and add layers, use multiple camera angles, and live stream, while also incorporating green screen technology.
Want the students’ names to pop-up on the screen with your station logo while they are speaking? MimoLive allows that to happen. Effects are added while students are recording, minimizing the time spent post-production and adding that extra look of professionalism. Layers and effects can be as simple or complex as the students choose to make them.
While this sounds overwhelming, my third graders are able to complete this job with little or no help—the hardest part for them is remembering to capitalize names when they type them in! To learn more, watch a short video tutorial here or go to https://goo.gl/Li3D0e.
The last part of creating an elementary news broadcast is editing. Personally, I prefer using Camtasia by TechSmith ($75). It’s easy to use while allowing for a great combination of effects. An added bonus is that TechSmith’s Fuse app works seamlessly with Camtasia. Once the Fuse app (free) is downloaded on any iOS device, videos can be transferred into Camtasia with the tap of a button.
iMovie is the other editing option. This free app works on all iOS devices and videos can be recorded in the app itself or imported through the camera roll. Using iMovie for editing keeps the recording and editing on one device.
When your class is ready to share their final product the school, you can upload all videos to YouTube or your school’s private video channel!