Green-Screen for Flipped Learning Videos (for Under $60): A Middling Path

*Please note this article uses affiliate links to Amazon.com for ease of use, I am not supported by or sponsored by any of the companies or products listed here and they are used for illustrative purposes only. Please complete your own research and find a product that suits your purpose.

There is a great consensus among flipped educators that there are two types of video, screen-casts, with or without a teacher’s face secreted somewhere, or a lightboard video. A lightboard video is where a teacher stands behind a piece of glass, rather than in front of a whiteboard. The benefits of each of these are clear due to their ease with which they can be produced. The element that a lightboard requires however, is a level of construction, as they are able to be purchased only in the United States, and only for the princely sum of $15,000 USD or $7,500 USD. This poses a problem, and requires a level of planning and preparation that creates a barrier for the person at the entry level.

When I was faced with this same proposition, I begun making screencast videos with genuinely atrocious video and audio quality that were offensive both to the eyes and ears of anyone brave enough to watch. However, when I sought to redress these issues (as I still continue to struggle against them today) I found that there was a large body of pre-existing knowledge for me to draw upon.

This knowledge came in the form of streamers, content producers who streamed video game content. This was in essence the same as a screen-cast teaching video, but far more interesting and interactive. The same issues of audio, video quality and the ever-present concern of screen space has forced this group of content creators to find novel means to solve these issues. In the process of working out these techniques, these creators reached a similar consensus of best practice in the same way that flipped educators had landed on the forward-board as the way forward.

So, this post is for those who would like to seek a middling route between screen-casting and the light or forward board approach to creating the content that allows for the flipped learning approach to be adopted.

Beginners / Entry Level

Professionally-amateurish

Expert practitioners

Screen-casting

Green-Screen

Lightboard / Forward board

The lessons learnt to create this middling path were all from video gamers, who live-streamed their games, these people are similar to teachers in the way that they have a tight schedule and the important thing is the things occurring on screen (the game) and not them (the talent). As a result, you will rarely see an amazing or stunning green-screen set-up with many content-creators sporting clear green outlines, invisible objects, visible supports and un-keyed out sections. It seems that professionalism is not really their goal. Needless to say, this filled me full of confidence to attempt it.

So let’s shift from the backstory and the justification to the ‘how-to’ element of this little post. If you too would like to trial this middling path and believe yourself to have exceeded the level of sophistication available for screen-casting your flipped videos, then read on.

Essentials (Level 1 – All within your laptop):

1 photographic light kit (as cheap as $50 online) http://amzn.to/2ndlN9g

1 Roll of green poster paper (go to your school’s art teacher or department)

1 Painters or masking tape (or just blu-Tack)  http://amzn.to/2ndm0JA

1 Open Broadcast Software [OBS] (free screen recording program) https://obsproject.com/

1 Webcam (within laptop) external  http://amzn.to/2FfmNB3

These are the essentials, that presume you are using a laptop with a webcam. The OBS software will allow you to remove the green screen you have created by sticking green poster paper to a wall. The laptop will record through OBS, removing the background and as it does so, and also displaying the slideshow you are explaining.

Optional extras (Level 2 – Using external devices):

1 Mobile phone to film with (or anything fancier if you have it lying around)

1 Tripod http://amzn.to/2Dxs0DU or a clamp for your mobile phone http://amzn.to/2nb8KVH

1 Microphone http://amzn.to/2E73Q4b or Lapel Mic http://amzn.to/2Gho2B5

1 Camtasia editing software http://amzn.to/2DxkVTO

1 Microphone Stand http://amzn.to/2rB3vUF

These extras take this process from a single device to multiple devices, but it allows for improved video and audio quality. And more flexible angles and locations to film the talent (the teacher). Camtasia will allow you to edit the files you create using your devices and allows for the easiest editing experience known to man, though it is costly. It also allows you to easily remove green screen, in a similar way to OBS. Alternatives for editing include Adobe Premiere Pro (which features a steep learning curve), Windows Movie Maker (not at all recommended), iMovie (if you are a Mac person).

That’s it.  With this you are ready to go. If you are willing to trial the technology, you can simply hold a lamp near your face, put a green piece of poster paper behind it and film it. You will be able to remove the green poster with some effectiveness using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). The thing that you are trying to avoid is shadows that appear behind your head, to solve this problem you will need to light kit of at least two point. This means that there are two light sources which cancels out a lot of the more obvious shadows that would be created by a single light in front of your talent (the teacher talking).

In summary, here are some benefits and drawbacks comparing this third option to those more established in the flipped learning community.

Benefits

Compared to screen casting

Compared to Light or Forward board

 

 – More screen space

 – More dynamic performance

 – Greater scope for body language 

 – The option of adding effects to the video

 – Allows for a more natural, standing delivery

 – Cheaper to set up

 – Less preparation time

 – Less construction ‘know-how’

 – More portable

 – More dynamic options with image use

Drawbacks

Compared to screen casting

Compared to Light or Forward board

 

 – Requires a higher level of post-production

 – Requires devices external to your computer

 – A small outlay of money required initially

 – Less scope for body language

 – Does not look as professional

 – Less intuitive for teachers

 

I hope this has shown you a different approach for those who have already achieved screen-casting, or are simply seeking a way into flipped learning, or simply creating their own video content for their classes. This path may become more natural, familiar and intuitive to younger generations of teachers who will have grown up on video-game streamers as among their primary content diet.

If you are interested in seeing some examples of flipped learning videos using these technologies you can access my YouTube Channel here: http://bit.ly/2kD9CDx. If you would like more information or further advice regarding this, please contact me via twitter at: https://twitter.com/steven_kolber.

 

 

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