Teens Know Web 2.0: iHCPL for Teens is a self-paced discovery learning program designed to help teens make the most of free Web 2.0 technologies, such as photo editing sites, productivity tools, online videos, social networking and sites for sharing music.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Three P's of Video Production

By now, you have decided what type of video you would like to produce. In this module, we will explore the three P's of video and film production:
Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production.

Pre-Production: Lights, Camera....
In this stage, you will get everything ready to begin filming. Here is a checklist of all the things you need to think about before you start your first day of shooting (in no particular order):
1. Location! Location! Location! Where are you going to shoot this film masterpiece? The first rule of location scouting is make sure there are no surprises in store for you when you start filming. If you are using your own home, then you don't have to worry about anything other than getting your parent's permission. If you are using your friend's house, make sure your get their parent's permission. Some people may not feel comfortable having their house featured in a video. As far as public places go, you must get permission to film on public or private property. In public places such as the library, there may be certain rules you have to follow in order to film there such as not filming patrons without their consent. Always get permission to film anywhere. In some places, you may even have to apply for a permit to film there. One of the best sources of information on this issue and many more is the Texas Film Commission.
2. Releases. Everyone who is appearing on camera should sign a legal release form. Since most of your cast members will be under the age of consent (18), there parents must sign for them. Sample copies of an actor's release form can be found in several film books including The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner.
3. Script. Even silent movies need scripts. The script tells the story of your film and builds the foundation for your production. For more information on screenwriting, check out these books at your library.
4. Storyboards. Once you have the story down in words, you need to figure out how to tell the story in visuals. That's where the storyboard comes in to play. Storyboards can be as simple as stick figures or as complicated and artistic as the ones in the video below:

5. Costumes, Props, Sets, and Makeup. Make a list of the items you will need for your movie. If you need any special makeup, check local theatrical supply and costume shops. Hit the local thrift stores for costums and props. After you have gathered everything together, make a checklist of everything and organize it by character. You don't want to have to scramble for something the day of shooting. Also pack a bag of emergency supplies to bring with you to the set such as sewing thread, sewing needles, bandages, duct tape, masking tape, etc.
6. Scheduling. Most films are not shot in sequence. Unless you plan on using one location, you will have to break up your shooting schedule into scenes by location. For example, shoot everything that takes place in the living room and then move on the all the scenes shot outside by the pool. Also make a realistic estimate about how long it will take you to shoot a scene. One formula you can use is one minute of screentime is equal to one hour of shooting. Sometimes it will take more especially if you are working with special effects, animals or small children. Filming outside can take more time due to noises such as airplanes, cars or your neighbor's activity (you never know when someone might decide to mow their lawn).
7. Rehearsal. Give your actors a chance to read the script and ask you questions. They might have some valuable input that will save you time in the long run.
8. Lights! Lighting can make or break a video. Entire courses are taught in lighting for stage and film but here is a quick tutorial.
9. Camera! Make sure you have plenty of videotape, film, DVDs, or media cards. Also charge your batteries the night before shooting. If you have a backup battery, pack it and bring it with you.

Now you are ready to film! Your checklists have been checked off, your actor's have memorized their lines, and you have all your storyboards ready. Here are some things you can do to keep everything running smoothly:
1. Have a contingency plan. If you are filming outdoors and it starts raining, what are you going to do?
2. Watch your playback. If you think something might be wrong with the scene (i.e. bad lighting, garbled audio, etc.), watch the video playback before you move on to the next scene. Better yet, do more than one take of the each scene if time allows. That will give you a few choices when it comes to editing.
3. Continuity. Don't make these mistakes:

Use a digital camera or an instant camera to keep track of wardrobe, prop placement and set dressings.

Post-Production: Putting It Together
All you have to do now is edit, dub, and upload your video. Use the programs mentioned in the first post to edit your film. During this process, you can also add titles, subtitles, special effects and music. Check with the video sharing site of your choice before you get ready to upload your video to double check the formats they accept. Most sites accept .avi, .mov, .wmv, and .mpg files. If you are unsure, check with the site's help center.

Discovery Exercises
Create your own film and post it to a video sharing site. Let us know about it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YouTube: Lights, Camera, Action!

If Vlogging is not your style or you feel more comfortable behind the camera, then you need to start making your own movies for YouTube. Before we discuss cameras, scripts and actors, let's talk about:

The Fine Print (aka I Fought the Law and the Law Won)
In the first YouTube post, I pointed out that you need a clear copyright if you want to use music in your videos but there are some other legalities that you should think about that are just as important.
1. Use of copyrighted video material. Creating movie or anime music videos (AMVs) is a great way to test your video editing prowess. Unfortunately, posting these videos infringes on the copyright of the creator of the source material. In most cases, YouTube will either give you a warning and pull the video. Worst case scenario: YouTube suspends your account and the original copyright holder sues you. It may sound extreme, but it has happened to several famous YouTube users.
2. Prank videos. Just because they made Johnny Knoxville and company famous doesn't mean that they will make you famous. Do you really want to end up in the emergency room or the back of a squad car over a YouTube video?
3. Hidden camera videos. Unless you have a person's written consent, you should not videotape them. It's legally and ethically wrong. In the case of minors, you must get consent from a parent or guardian.

Get Equipped!
All you need to get started is a video camera, camera phone, still camera with video capability, or webcam. If you don't have any of these at home, you can start your shopping by checking out electronic review sites such as Cnet or even a retailer like Amazon. Read customer reviews in addition to the professional reviews on the site. Also think about the kind of videos that you want to shoot. If you just want to goof around with your friends, a digital camera with video capability might be your best buy. If you want to make professional quality films, then you need to look for a video camera. Decide on the make and model that you want to buy before you go shopping.

You will also need video editing software. Luckily, both Windows and Mac come loaded with some great software. Windows Movie Maker and Mac's iMovie are perfect for beginners. Once you have taken off the training wheels, you might consider one of the Final Cut packages for Mac or Adobe's Premiere for Windows or Mac. There are some online options like JumpCut and Eyespot but most online video editors are pretty weak when compared to their software counterparts.

Get Educated!

Your library has some great books on filmmaking including one expressly for teens! Check out Digital Filmaking for Teens by Peter Shaner and Gerald Everett Jones. You an also find some great DIY (Do It Yourself) videos on YouTube itself. Indy Mogul and Zero Budget have some excellent tips and tricks to turn your ideas into reality.

Get Ready!
You are armed with your camera, your editing software, and your knowledge of video production. In the final post, you will learn how to put it all together, shoot your first video, edit it, and put it on YouTube.

Discovery Exercises
1. If you can, shoot some video and play around with your video editor.
2. Watch some YouTube DIY videos.
3. Think about what kind of video you would like to produce. Do you want to make a music video? Movie? Do you have a special skill that you would like to share with the world in a DIY video?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Online Video: The Next Generation of Entertainment

Are you dying to learn Dice Stacking? Ever seen a Library Musical performed in a real library in front of unsuspecting patrons? Do you think you are tough enough to join Chess Club? If you haven't discovered YouTube yet, log on and take a look at the next generation of entertainment and media. YouTube is certainly the most popular video site, but there are others you might want to check out including: Hulu for watching TV shows and movies, blip.tv for user created shows, or the Internet Archive which has thousands of mostly open-access videos.

Founded in 2005, YouTube combines video sharing with social networking. Three years later, YouTube's influence is so wide that questions from YouTube vloggers were featured in the presidential debates. It has also turned a college student like Tay Zonday from an oddity to internet celebrity Dr. Pepper spokesperson. Back in 1968, Andy Warhol stated, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Thanks to YouTube, the future is here.

In these iHCPL posts, we will explore YouTube and learn how to create videos to dazzle your friends, family, and, hopefully, the whole internet.

You Can Be a Star: Vlogging

One of the most popular features of YouTube is Vlogging or Video Blogging. If you have a webcam or a camera that can capture videos, you can create a Vlog. Vlogs are a great way to express your ideas, document your life, or send a message out to the world.

So, who vlogs? YA authors Cecil Castellucci and Meg Cabot vlog. Kenzie the Wheaten Terrier vlogs. Even Ninjas vlog. One of the most infamous vloggers on YouTube wasn't actually a vlogger at all. In June 2006, vlogs from lonelygirl15 (aka Bree) began appearing on the site. She seemed like a typical teen but as the vlogs progressed, people began to worry about her strange, restrictive home life. Finally, it was revealed that lonelygirl15 was actually an actress from New Zealand and the whole thing was a "virtual" series. In spite of that revelation, Lonelygirl15 is still running on YouTube and will wrap up it's storyline this August.

If you want to start your own vlog, here are some helpful hints:

Also, make sure that any music you use in your vlog is either covered by the Creative Commons license or is from the Warner Music Group. You don't want your vlog pulled for copyright violations.

Discovery Exercises:

1. If you aren't already signed up for YouTube, sign up today!

2. Explore all the videos that YouTube offers.

3. Create a vlog or, if you are camera shy, blog about your favorites.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Online Calendars

Using an online calendar can help the busiest person stay on track. You can keep your school assignments as well as your social commitments straight. Never again will you forget when your History paper is due or who you have a date with next Saturday. By using an online calendar you can access it anywhere, anytime and anyplace, provided you have access to a computer and the Internet!

We will look at three different free online calendars:

1. Google Calendar - Take the tour here.

2. Yahoo Calendar – With Yahoo calendar you can access dates and meetings and you can share your calendar with friends you choose. There are also automatic reminders to help keep you on track.

3. 30 Boxes - You can publish or display this calendar on your blog if you have one. You can set your calendar so that only those that you invite can view it under advanced settings. It is easy to add events.

Discovery exercise:

1. Create an account using one of the calendars mentioned above.
2. Change the settings.
3. Add events for this month.
4. Leave a comment naming your favorite online calendar.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Most of us can use a little help to get or keep ourselves organized. Now there are many web-based applications available to do just that. These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications.

One large benefit to web-based applications is that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you e-mail documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs to author and publish posts to your blog. It's this type of integration with other web 2.0 tools that also makes web-based apps so appealing.

Online Productivity #1: Zoho

There are online programs such as Zoho and Google Docs that will allow you to write papers, create spread sheets and more . For this exercise we will learn about Zoho.

Zoho offers online access to word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database programs. With Zoho you can enter information online and save it online. There is no need to carry around a disk or flash drive; wherever you have access to the internet, you have access to your work!

Discovery Exercises:

Register for a free account with Zoho.
Create a document in Zoho Writer listing all the fun things you plan to do over the summer.
Create a document in Zoho Sheet creating a budget on how you will spend money this summer.
Take a look around Zoho Show and Zoho Notebook.
Leave a comment to this post listing your favorite Zoho tool.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Photo Editing

So you’ve got a Flickr or other online photo-sharing account. But, before you upload certain pics, you’d love to be able to tweak them a bit. And for that – photo editing – you’ve got plenty of places to choose from.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, you don’t need a chunk of change to make use of the latest and greatest Photoshop software to create cool effects or adjust an image. Like photo-sharing sites, there are more than the world wide web’s share of photo editing tools to choose from. And the best part is that most of them are free.

Just a simple Google search for the term “photo editing” will retrieve literally millions of hits (click here if you want to see), with the most popular spots, as always, near the very top of the list. And though each of the sites may have more or less features than another, most should cover the basic image-adjustment options.

Need to trim your shot a bit? Try cropping. Do you love attractive, bright colors? Try saturating. Do you prefer less color and instead take pleasure in the simplicity of shadows and shades? Desaturate the colors and convert your pic to black and white. Do you want to do less work AND enjoy a vivid, well-balanced image? Try auto-adjusting. Do you want to get really ridiculous with your shot? Mess around with distortion effects.

Little touches like these are often that special magic touch which makes the difference between an average snapshot easily forgotten and an eye-catching image worthy of hanging on the wall.

As already mentioned, there are plenty of sites to choose from. Lately, one of the bigger names in photo-editing has gotten into the game of free with Photoshop Express, which offers up to 2 gigabytes worth of uploadable photo space. With FotoFlexor, another popular site, you can enjoy image tweaking with cool functions that’ll trim a person out of a background, recolor hair, and even animate. Another popular site, Picnik, will work with your photos wherever they are on the web, whether Myspace, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, or Picasa. Best of all with them all – no moola necessary.

Discovery Exercise:
Create an account with one of the photo-editing sites mentioned above. After uploading a picture or two, tweak with some of the basic functions like cropping or color-adjusting. Try most of the other effects.

Once you’ve tweaked at least one of your pictures enough, upload your favorite result to your favorite photo-sharing site with the account you created in the previous module.