Attention Camtasia users!

Techsmith FuseIf you’re a Camtasia user (and we have many here on campus, making narrated screen recordings for a variety of purposes), you might be interested in a new multi-platform app Techsmith have brought out called Fuse. This works with the latest versions of Camtasia (8.4) and allows you to send images and videos instantly from your smartphone to Camtasia on your PC. It’s easy to set up and the connection / transfer process is slick.

This is ideal if you’re recording ‘talking heads’ interviews, as we do frequently in the Centre for Academic Practice, and you want to speed up the editing process. The app works with Techsmith’s Snagit image editor too. Recommended.

BUFVC training course “Think Visual: video storytelling in education” – a short report

Photo of Millais' 1871 painting of a seafarer telling tales to a youthful Walter Raleigh

Millais ‘Boyhood of Raleigh’ – storytelling visually…

I was not expecting our 2013 LSU Exec video to feature as part of my training day last week at the British Universities Film and Video Council.

As part of a session discussing ‘how to use video to market your university’, a link from a frothing-at-the-mouth article in the Daily Mail took us to this infamous video. How we laughed. Whilst this video received the group’s strongest reaction of the day, and was so bad technically as to make the pro videographers (and anyone with a love of music) beg the presenter to stop it, it did highlight one of the main points of the day: authenticity. Continue reading

Screencastify: a quick and easy screencasting utility for Google Chrome


Screencasting is the process of capturing video of your computer desktop and can often get complicated quite quickly.  Usually you need to install some form of screen capture tool like TechSmith’s Camtasia to create these sort of screen recordings.

Enter Screencastify, a new extension for Google Chrome that allows you to create screencasts with relative ease.  A quick visit to the Chrome Web store and an even quicker installation results in an icon in Chrome’s toolbar that gives you access to Screencastify’s recording function and settings. Screencastify has the ability to record a tab or the entire desktop.  The Record Desktop feature works cross-platform: Windows, Mac or ChromeOS, but is currently listed as experimental.  It can also record in various resolutions and with two different audio input configurations: system audio or microphone. You can even include your webcam feed, which appears in the bottom right hand corner of of the finished recording. When the screencast is finished, it can be renamed and stored within the extension popup window until you download it (as a .webm file), upload it to YouTube or delete it.

For those seeking a free and easy solution to capturing your browser tab or desktop it seems an interesting alternative to existing methods .
Screencastify can be found here:

Hanging Out

photo 5A colleague and I took part in a Google Hangout session yesterday with six other people from other institutions. Google Hangout is a video chat tool.  I was a bit weary about using this at first because a) I’ve never used it before, and b) there were 10 people expected at this virtual meeting so I wasn’t sure how this would be controlled.

In the past, when I have taken part in virtual gatherings, it has gone one of two ways; either one or two members predominantly speak for the duration of the session or second, everyone is talking over one another and it just turns into a bit of a mess. Fortunately, though, this session worked really well. The sound quality was excellent, as was the video. We didn’t experience any latency issues with sound (despite the fact we were using wifi) whereas this has been an issue with specific web conferencing tools such as Blackboard Collaborate we have used in the past.

Everyone got an opportunity to speak, and there was a common understanding of virtual meeting protocols which kept things in order (this may be because we are all in a Learning Technologist or similar kind of role). We quickly realised the importance of the need to mute, or unmute, when you are not talking (talking), otherwise you will be distracted by the constant video change when sound is picked up from another mic.

Aside from conducting virtual meetings via Google Hangouts, and using it privately with friends and family, you can join other publicly accessible Hangouts ranging from Language Practice Hangouts to paid-for hangouts offering live cooking classes!

Which video chat facility do you like to use with your colleagues and/or students? Please let me know below.

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TurnItIn for any assignment

TurnItIn have recently announced their Grade Anything initiative, which allows the system to accept files of any type for evaluation.  Obviously the text-matching will only work with files containing text.  However the GradeMark online marking tool is now applicable for a much wider variety of student coursework, as is demonstrated on their video clips .

Don’t get too excited, though – there is no hint that the TurnItIn file size limit of 20 MBytes per file will be increased, so image portfolios or video clips are still likely to be too big to be submitted to TurnItIn.

However one workaround is the ability to use the marking and feedback tools without any submission being present, using a ‘submission template’ (i.e. a blank document).  You might use this to comment on a multimedia submission handed in by some other means, or to assess a live performance e.g. in Drama or Sports Science.

TurnItIn is shifting its emphasis from Originality Checking towards a focus on online marking and feedback provision.  The original functionality is still there and works as it always has done: the ability to handle any file type is an additional feature.

Box of Broadcasts service downtime / relaunch

BoB screenshotThe Box of Broadcasts (BoB) service will be unavailable from 5pm on December 13th until December 23rd. This is to allow for preparation of the next major release (V3) which will be launched officially on January 6th. NB – the screenshot on the left shows the current version.

BoB is a fantastic service for teaching and learning as many academic colleagues are already aware, giving staff and students alike access to a vast archive of online recordings of TV and radio programmes. You can play students a complete programme (or a clip / playlist you have created) safe in the knowledge that there are no copyright issues. Plus it really is easy; if you can use the BBC iPlayer, you can use BoB.

The new version is even more compelling, with:

– Over 1 million archived programmes and growing daily;

– All BBC TV and radio content back to 2007;

– Searchable transcripts of programmes;

– 10 foreign language channels added;

– Improved clip / playlist editing;

– 1-click citation to reference programmes;

– Now viewable on iPad / iPhone.

We’ll be putting on introductory sessions in the New Year.

You can access BoB at .

BoB upgrade

Further to my earlier post on BoB this morning: BoB is being relaunched in October with some significant improvements.

These include:

  • access to more than 800,000 new BBC TV and radio programmes, dating from 2007, from the BBC archive
  • an additional 13 foreign language channels
  • an extended recording buffer – giving you more channels, available for longer
  • a new website look, including colour, theme, functionality and improved navigation.
  • the ability to search across future and recorded programmes simultaneously
  • interactive transcripts and dynamic subtitle searches
  • Apple iOS compatibility
  • the ability to easily create clips and clip compilations, and share programmes and playlists via social media
  • the option to make YouTube-style comments on progammes
  • a quick link to the new BUFVC AV Citation Guidelines, allowing you the opportunity to reference programmes within your work easily.

Follow @bufvc_bob on Twitter if you’d like to keep up-to-date with the upgrade and with BoB in general.

BoB: did it deliver?

BoB screenshot Liz Stokoe

We’ve now come to the end of the first academic year in which the University has subscribed to BoB (Box of Broadcasts) and I think I can reasonably sum up the experience by saying that it’s been one of the best learning technologies I’ve been involved in adopting / promoting.

The response from academic colleagues who have used it has been excellent, with comments including “it will transform my teaching”. The service has been very reliable for the most part and it has required very little in the way of support.

Prompted by a query from another institution considering whether to invest in it for next year, I’ve just taken a look at the usage figures to which I have access as the local system administrator. Between 1 October 2012 and 23 July 2013, 2955 programmes have been ‘requested’ (ie flagged up to be recorded); 17085 programmes have been watched; and there are 1072 registered users. The most popular channel was E4 (which no doubt reflects the fact that students can log into BoB to watch an entire season of the latest cult series) closely followed by BBC 4 and then BBC 2, both of which are excellent sources for academic purposes.

What this doesn’t tell you, of course, is the impact of one viewing in a lecture theatre, where there might be 300+ students. It also doesn’t capture the reduced risk of copyright infringement through automation of the ERA return (relating to copyright in off-air recordings of radio / TV programmes.

Remember too that BoB also archives radio programmes, as in the screenshot here which features Prof Liz Stokoe’s recent starring role in “The LIfe Scientific” on Radio 4.

BoB is getting an upgrade

BoB screenshotThis year will see a major upgrade for BoB National (Box of Broadcasts), including new features and an improved user experience. These developments are a result of feedback received from users.

The new BoB National will be launched in October 2013.

The new features will include:

– access to more than 500,000 new BBC TV and radio programmes, dating from 2007, from the BBC archive

– an additional 13 foreign language channels

– an extended recording buffer – giving you more channels, available for longer

– a new website look, including colour, theme, functionality and improved navigation.

– the ability to search across future and recorded programmes simultaneously

– interactive transcripts and dynamic subtitle searches

– Apple iOS compatibility

– the ability to easily create clips and clip compilations, and share programmes and playlists via social media

– the option to make YouTube-style comments on progammes

– a quick link to the new BUFVC AV      Citation Guidelines, allowing you the opportunity to reference rogrammes within your work easily.

Plus we will be moving the main BoB National system to a purpose-built datacentre, which will prevent any future disruption to BoB, previously caused by power shortages in central London.
 [Adapted from BUFVC Press Release 22 April 13]

Ultra High Definition video for healthcare education

uhdcardiff-cropToday researchers at UK universities will carry out 3D demonstrations on a ‘virtual patient’, showing how groundbreaking ultra high definition (UHD) technology is making a real difference to medical training and diagnosis.

Already used by trainee radiographers at Cardiff University, UHD technology, using the UK’s research and education high-speed data network Janet, has the potential to revolutionise the way medical training is conducted. It will not only free up treatment rooms for patients but also enable students to grow their competences in a virtual world before treating ‘actual’ patients. By sharing resources with other university sites significant savings could be made, as well as enabling shared expertise.

This showcase is the first of two run by the UK Ultra High Definition Consortium consisting of the universities of Cardiff, Bristol and Strathclyde, and Glasgow School of Art. Today’s demonstration shows radiographers at Cardiff’s Healthcare Studies undergoing training on a ‘virtual patient’ using 3D technology, bringing to life an area of the body in need of treatment. The streams, of 4-8K content (that’s 4 – 8 times the resolution of normal HD) will also be shared with other sites at Bristol and PSNC (The Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Centre in Poland). It will also show computational modelling on arterial cells – the results of collaboration with the Cardiovascular Sciences Research Group based at the Wales Heart Research Institute in Cardiff.

Nick Avis, professor of interactive visualization and virtual environments at Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics explains: “The great thing about UHD video is that it enables us to use high fidelity visuals to replicate the human body, which are critical for modern diagnostics. However, delivering this data-intensive digital media to remote users, whilst retaining high visual quality, requires high-speed networking and infrastructure.

“We are fortunate to be able to use Janet’s high capacity data network to collaborate with research partners and push the boundaries of this technology, not only in the UK but internationally too.”

Dimitra Simeonidou, professor of high performance networks at the University of Bristol explains: “For remote applications, such as real time medical training to thrive, the network infrastructure must become dynamic and readily consumable. A fundamentally new approach is required in the way we design today’s networks.

“The High Performance Networks group at Bristol develops ground-breaking technology which automates any network infrastructure, transforming it into a reflexive environment that instantaneously establishes network services at global scales. Today we demonstrate the benefits of such technologies using the medical training platform at Cardiff as exemplary application.”

The UK Ultra High Definition Consortium is the first of its kind in the country to build an integrated networked infrastructure for research into novel multimedia techniques and networking architectures. Through their work, the group aims to develop and deploy the next generation of networked UHD applications.

Emma Smith, video projects co-ordinator at Janet, member of the UK Ultra High Definition Consortium explains: “Ultra High Definition is the next generation of high fidelity digital media. Until now it has been most heavily associated with the entertainment industry and more recently large-screen coverage of the 2012 Olympics.

“This research will not only benefit research and education, but also has the potential to enable virtual museums/tourism, performing arts collaborations and many more. We are pleased to be able to support these types of collaborations through Janet.”

Already other research into UHD technology is taking shape as a direct result of this project. This includes a proposal for an EU/Brazil partnership to explore the infrastructure requirements to combine technical developments in cloud technology and the use of high definition content. It may yet be some years off, but as research in this area develops we may start to see its deployment across a wider range of disciplines and eventually across mainstream video.

A second showcase will take place later in the year at Glasgow School of Arts to further demonstrate the use of this technology.

[Adpated from a JISC press release published 19/04/13]