Do you want to learn about what makes a rainbow? Watch a lecture from an MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin. These days many universities are making educational videos available for viewing online. MIT, for example distributes hundreds of educational videos through Video at MIT.
But you don't have to be a mighty institute of technology to produce your own movies. There are a number of free and easy to use resources available at your fingertips. We are not talking about sure-to-go-to-Sundance material. Just a simple DIY recording that is reasonably visible and audible. Here are a few tools to start with (again, this post is Windows PC centric because that is the platform that SMU supports):
For basic recording, get something easy to use. Consider the ease with which you get the files from the recorder onto your computer, into your editing system and online for sharing. Many audio recorders will allow you to easily transfer audio files through a USB cable. make sure that your recorder creates common file formats - WMA, Mp3 or WAV. For example, an Mp3 will make it easy to edit and upload to iTunes U.
If you have an iPod or an iTouch, you can buy a small plug-in mic to record good quality audio. You can also use a headset with a mic to record directly into your audio editing system on the computer.
For basic video, you can use a mini-dv camcorder or even a digital photo camera as long as you have enough memory on the memory card. If you just want to record a head shot of yourself speaking, you can also use a web cam directly on your computer.
For our camcorders at SMU, we also have a wireless camcorder microphone. It has a receiver that hooks up to the camera and a wireless mic that can be hooked up across the room to the source of sound. This cuts down on ambient noise, automatically synchronizes the audio with video and produces a better quality sound in the movie.
SMU's O'Grady Library has a number of audio and video recorders for check-out.
Audacity is a free audio editing program that is available for download onto your PC. It does simple audio editing functions, such as cutting and pasting audio clips, adding multiple audio tracks. Audacity can import WAV and Mp3 files. To export Mp3 files from Audacity, you need to download Lame Mp3.
Windows comes with a simple video editing program called Windows Movie Maker. If you have Windows 7, you will need to download the free program. The program comes with online tutorials and a manual.
My Podcast offers free hosting and publishing of Mp3 audio files.
iTunes U is available for free hosting of audio and video files for higher ed. Your university has to join iTunes U before you can upload your files here. iTunes U accepts only Mp3 or Mp4 file formats.
Internet Archive also hosts audio and video files. It is a free internet library that is operated under the Creative Commons License. You can upload Mp3, Mp4, WAV, WMA and a few other formats. One of the nice features of this site is that users can stream video without having to wait for a download of large files.
If you need background music for your movie, try Music Alley. It is a collection of music that is the property of the artist and is also under the Creative Commons License, making it safe for you to use in your movie without violating copyright laws.
For more content available under the Creative Commons License, take a look at the Creative Commons Directory.
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