Having a school run TV studio is a pipedream for many schools and for those that have one up and running, there is a tremendous amount of work required to get the final product polished. Planning and researching the content, rehearsing and taping the segments, setting up the designated space, editing, the list goes on… A list long enough to stop people before they begin.
But what if you could really simplify this process and allow the students to lead it?
This is where TouchCast Studio comes in.
TouchCast Studio is a free iPad application that allows students to create ‘smart videos’ which the viewer can interact with. By that I mean, a viewer does not simply just watch the video but they can interact with the displayed content. Our 1:1 iPad program is from Year 3-6 and TouchCast Studio is one of the most heavily used creation applications due to its flexibility and power. This post is a walk through of the key phases that I follow with the students I work with.
All educators know the power of a good plan in helping students achieve cohesive and well-structured work. For many students, planning can be seen as an unnecessary step or a step they wish to avoid. TouchCast is a great trojan horse for showcasing the power of a plan. To make a successful TouchCast, students need a script and a storyboard.
For the reluctant writers in the class, the inbuilt teleprompt is a really engaging medium to promote writing. To use the teleprompt, students require a script. Students can directly type into the teleprompt window but due to the size of the editor, they quickly discover that it is better to create in Google Docs, Pages or Word. Once the script has been created and copied into the TouchCast teleprompt, students have to spend time adjusting the size and speed of the words on the teleprompt to suit their desired reading speed. If they are working with a partner on screen, they need to work out how to structure the script so that they know when to speak and what to say. This constant script refinement helps deliver a better final product. Through trial and error and many bloopers, students discover through reading and rereading their scripts, the parts that don’t flow or make sense. For younger readers, practicing over and over can help bring a more natural delivery to the recording.
I add this step in for a few reasons. As a visual aid, it helps students plan each shot. It breaks the video into segments so that students view their production as a combination of small parts instead of one continuous shot. The storyboard can also introduce students to shot composition. Learning how to use camera angles such as a wide shot, extreme close up or over the shoulder technique help bring variety and complexity to the TouchCast. Taking the time to compose a shot to ensure the best viewing angle is achieved is a great tip for all videos and can allow students to create really interesting narratives for their viewers. I find this website to be great for students of all ages to demonstrate the variety of angles available to them.
The storyboard is also really useful for the planning of titles and vApps. Adding titles in TouchCast is really easy and with templates such as YouTube, students will find titles that suit. To add a title, you simply select Add Title, choose it from the list and type in the details you require. Turning a title on and off is as simple as touching it. You can also set a timer on a title to disappear after a certain period of time. vApps or videoApps are a real point of difference for TouchCast. You can insert photos, videos, maps, polls, quotes, Dropbox files, Google Drive files, questions, YouTube videos, the list goes on… Once inserted the content appears as a layer over your video. You can easily move the inserted vApps around, change the size and turn them on and off. Adding vApps to a recording allows for interactivity. Viewers can interact with the vApp by touching on it at any time during the recording.
TouchCast provides students with a real insight into the roles required in front of the camera and behind the scenes and one of the best features of TouchCast is the ability to allow students to focus on one role at a time. Speaking in front a camera is always a daunting experience so adding the complexity of bringing up titles and vApps makes it all that more difficult. With the TouchCast Studio editor, you can add all the titles and vApps after you have recorded the video. By focusing on getting the content recorded well, students can then add all the other elements during post production. This also ensures that the storyboard stays relevant for the whole process. The focus shifts from adding all the bells and whistles to ensuring that the human element of the video is captured correctly.
When you press record, students are counted in with a 3, 2, 1 count. When I work with my students, I don’t usually hit the pause button until we have nailed the scene. When they make a mistake, I get them to pause, count to three in their head and go again. I also push on them on being engaging. The position of the teleprompt in TouchCast is near the iPad camera so when students are reading off the teleprompt, they are looking at the camera. The challenging part is being natural. Students tend to be quite robotic due to the combination of public speaking and reading off a screen. I constantly press my students to talk to me as they record. I position myself right behind the iPad and I get them to go again and again and again. Editing is easy in TouchCast and bloopers are priceless so encourage students to push their performance. Students begin to see the power of polish in their performance and it works wonders for building resilience. Once the take is finished, we press Done and then are taken to the editor. We are then driven by our storyboard as to what the next scene is.
When all scenes have been recorded, we move to the post production phase. In this phase, we work on editing the scenes and prepping them for the addition of titles and vApps. To edit a clip in the TouchCast editor, you simply touch the segment you wish to edit and select Trim. Transitions between slides add a polish and help bridge together the different elements of the production. In post production, students can also add in other elements. They can look at the scenes that may need reshooting and spend time putting the polish on their hard work. The storyboard is a key driver through the whole process because it enables the intended narrative to thread through the whole piece. Recording is not simply pressing record and talking. There are so many nuances to it and the more students spend refining the product, the better the quality and the higher the bar they set for themselves.