Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Digital Photo Basics Screencast

As a web and multimedia developer, I work with photos provided by clients to incorporate into websites on a daily basis. A common problem I run into is that a lot of people don't understand some really basic things about digital images. For example, I'm often provided photos that are way too small for the space needed on a web page. Since I'm expanding my service offerings to include online visual explanations, I thought it would be a good idea to create an explanatory video or screencast that explains some of the basics of using digital images on the web. The result is the following (click on full-screen mode to view it larger).

Digital Photo Basics - Image Size & Resizing from Jeff Bennett on Vimeo.

Now for some self-critiquing. One of my explicit goals in developing this video was to work out the process involved - what settings to use in the video screencapture, what images sizes to use for static images that I imported, R&D on audio capture, etc. While I'm not completely satisfied with the end result, I'm very satisfied with what I learned through the process.

The biggest lesson learned was that the script really needs more work and refinement. More time spent up front in developing the script will result in a better explanation and also reduce fixes and edits later on in the production process. For example, after creating all the visuals and audio and reviewing a rough cut of the video, I noticed an error in the narration that I should have caught when writing the script. It was minor, but I re-recorded a portion of the audio to correct it and also to find out if there would be a noticeable difference in the audio recorded at different times. Despite using all the same audio settings and same microphone, I can detect a difference. So, lesson learned - spend a lot of time developing, editing and nitpicking the script, then once it's perfect, record all the audio at once, then synch up the audio with the visuals later in the production process.

The audio quality also leaves a bit to be desired, but this was expected since I just used the built-in microphone on my Mac Powerbook. Investing in a better quality external mic will fix this problem. There's also a slight inconsistency at one point that I did just to make a point. In retrospect, it would probably be better to avoid this kind of thing.

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