One of my favorite apps for the iPad has got to be Green Screen by Do Ink. This post will share some ideas which I hope you may be able to share with your students or other teachers.
[Here comes the historical background section of this post]
My past with Green Screen goes back quite a few years ago to a conference when I saw Hall Davidson speak. I had heard of green and blue screen chroma key before, in fact I still remember seeing a special effects documentary on Star Wars in the late 70's when I was a kid which introduced this effect tool - and of how I love YouTube, because someone found and posted this special called The Making of Star Wars. This link will take you just to the part about the blue screen. But it was Hall, who was the first one to show me that this idea can be applied in education. I thought, "this is so fantastic and I would love to use it in my classes".
But, from there that idea just kind of sat. By that I mean (and I am sure this has happened to any of you have attended a conference before) I was inspired but didn’t do anything about. About 6 months later I had a student ask me if I was OK with her recording my history lectures on her voice recorder. I said sure, but really it took me back to the moment when I saw Hall present and I thought, “What if I don’t just have her record me, but what if I recorded myself not just with audio but with video?
So this was my plan; I would set up a video camera on a shelf in the back of my room and then I would stand in front of my podium and pin a piece of green fabric behind me. I would then conduct the lecture making sure to not move so as to always keep me in the center of the shot with the green fabric behind me. The magic came back on my computer in the editing phase of this project.
I would take my PowerPoint and save it not as a .PPT but as .JPGs which meant that I would have an image saved of every PowerPoint slide. I would then take these still slide images and my green screen video and drop them into the video editor which I was (and still am) using, Adobe Premiere Elements. It was in the program where I would be the images in the back layer and then my video on the front layer. Then by using the Chroma Key feature (that is the actual terms for green screen stuff) I would make the green disappear and I would be left standing in front of my PowerPoint lecture. I moved my video to the lower left so that I would not be centered and in the end I looked like your local weather man narrating, except of talking about the 5 day forecast I was talking Mongols, Mayans and Mutual Assured Destruction.
It took over two years to get all these done and I found that my students found them useful particularly ones who were absent and others who wanted to review. A side benefit I noticed was that I would get emails from other teachers and students thanking me for posting them as podcasts so that they could access them.
I moved away from the lengthy lecture style of teaching but I still have most of them online (I lost several due to a complication with the site which hosted them for me) and thanks to Google Drive, I now have unlimited space forever!
Here is the link to these AP World History lectures
Along with these lectures, I then started to think about having my students become the participants. I took inspiration from two places:
1) Jon Stewart’s Daily Show where his correspondents traveled the world to report (nope, they were just in front of a green screen) and
2) a videotape series of History in the News series that I first used when I student taught back in Reno, NV. This is were fake news broadcasts where reporters would don "LIVE" breaking news reports from places like Martin Luther's trial or Fall of Bastille. Now I have scoured the web but CAN'T find the name of this series. So if does anyone out there remember the name of this series?
So I created a project which entailed having students work in groups to create their own breaking news reports from the past. The groups picked events from a list which I put together like Hannibal crossing the Alps and the Battle of Britain. They then had to research these events, find appropriate background images, and write their news story script. I had to do the heavy lifting of editing these afterwards since this was still a multi-step process but the end results were pretty good (even for 2010)
Below are two videos. The first is a quick clip of the original lead in done on a green screen and the second is the final news interview
[and now back to present]
I am re-thinking this lesson and wondering how this would be done differently using the tech we have at our disposal now.
Wow… it’s become so much easier to do this – all thanks to easy to use apps on our devices. The apps that allow the making videos so easy as iMovie and Green Screen by DoInk.
And to be honest its Green Screen and iMovie are the only anchors which keep me on the iPad instead of jumping over to an Android tablet. These two apps (well actually three, Adobe Voice is pretty slick too!) have no parallel on Android. Now let’s get something clear – I WANT THEM ON ANDROID! It’s not like I want to be in the Apple world; in my opinion I get frustrated by Apple with their issues of the:
• high prices of their devices
• huge challenge to get them configured students
• labor required to get files, like images & audio, on the devices easily
But back to the lesson: Using the Green Screen app you will create three layers
1) The background. This can be a still image or video but I prefer an image since these are easier to find. These will be the “location” of where you reporter will be standing.
2) The reporter. This will be the middle layer. The student(s) will stand and look at the camera announce their name (try having them be creative in their reporter name). This is the part of the video which NEEDS TO BE SHOT IN FRONT OF THE GREEN SCREEN.
3) The “Action News” overlay or top layer. Oh, this is the gravy that makes everything slightly better. If you have this image on top of your video it gives the appearance that this is a legit news program. In order to make these you have to have an image which is saved as a .PNG which allows transparency. Now that may have sounded complicated but the good news is that I created a template in Google Draw that you can edit by changing the text of the news channel, location, date and reporters name. Here is the Google Draw Template which you will NEED to make a copy of. Try to have your kids make their own after you get the idea of how this works.
So now here are some tips if you are thinking about doing this lesson with your class:
Here’s another idea! Kids can recreate a real life place in Minecraft like the Great Wall of China or Eiffel Tower and then they can be there themselves. Oh… just thought of an idea. Try getting some of those Minecraft masks, that way the can stand there as a real life Minecraft character who's actually IN one of the world they created!
Now these aren’t only just for social studies classes. You could have students do live reports from books they have read in Language Arts classes.
“Good evening, this is Ramo coming to you live from the Island of the Blue Dolphins”
Or in Science, students can be as far away as the Moon or Mars or as close and inside the human body.
How cool would it look to create a simple astronaut helmet and have them report live from the Moon lander below
I am working on creating collections for other classes such as geography, US history, physical and life sciences.
Please leave a comment or drop me a line if you try one of these lesson ideas so I can see what some of your classes can come up with.