Video-Editing SW Supplies the "Polish" at Vermont Elementary School
Desktop video, the ultimate in multimedia, is becoming a familiar tool to the teachers, students and staff at Flood Brook Elementary School. Utilizing a low-cost software package called VideoShop, people at this K-6 school in Londonderry, Vermont, are making presentations that both inform and impress viewers. Teachers First First being trained to use VideoShop are teachers, according to Doug Snow, educational technology facilitator for the school. "We wanted to get a stable base with them before we take it to the students." Generally, the software is used to do a final edit to a captured piece of video, explains Snow, either in terms of sequencing or adding captions. It lets one polish projects to a level that is "amazing," he says. VideoShop, a complete package for desktop video editing from Avid Technology, Inc., Tewksbury, Mass., is quite easy to use. It works almost like a word processor, with cut-and-paste editing, drag-and-drop operations, plus continuous online help that is context-sensitive. The sequencer allows unlimited layers of audio and video. Just point and click to add special effects, transitions like windowshades or fades, scrolling titles or voice-over narration. A Canvas Window lets one see work without waiting for a Preview or requiring a second monitor. Myriad Uses, in Class and Out Flood Brook instructors learn to use VideoShop to enhance and augment their in-class teaching materials, reports Snow, who assists in training the school's personnel. A recently created unit on dinosaurs is just one example. Snow describes a typical way that he personally produces a presentation with VideoShop's help. First, an animation or presentation is created with a different package. "I use it to add text to video that was put into a slide show made with [Aldus'] Persuasion," he explains by way of an example. The principal is learning to use it as well. Students who have worked with the package, says Snow, use Broderbund's KidPix to generate the initial material. They then save it as a QuickTime movie and import it into VideoShop to add text titles and more. In another case, an instructor, who went to Africa, had to submit documentation to his sponsors in the French government in order to validate what he had gained from the trip. His "sight and sound" presentation, fine tuned by VideoShop, supplied not just factual evidence but also a "flavor" of his experiences. One can add video and audio clips to myriad applications. Many of the traditional "big three" business programs -- word processor, data base and spreadsheet -- now enable a user to embed video and audio clips right into the document. This means that any type of project -- from applying for a grant, getting a budget approved or reporting on the results of state-mandated testing -- can be polished into a "professional" presentation with the help of VideoShop. Why VideoShop? Several factors combined to make VideoShop Version 2.0 their choice. "At that time capture was built-in, which the other packages didn't have," remembers Snow. "Its special features were attractive, and just the whole notion of the way the sequencer is laid out makes much more sense than Premiere," he comments, adding that it also seems more streamlined. "Certainly it is offered at a price that schools can afford." The package is used at Flood Brook on Macs ranging from LC 520 education models to Quadra 840av models. The av models are especially convenient because they sport a direct video-in port. Version 3.0 of VideoShop, released last fall, exploits recent advances in Mac hardware and software; Flood Brook has a copy of the new version. Among the enhancements they like best are its faster speed, a good user interface made even better, and the bundled CD-ROM filled with royalty-free video, music and sound effects. Other highlights of Version 3.0 are: acceleration for Power Macs; native to QuickTime 2.0; a new way to trim video with precision; more support and control for external video decks; and better music features, including MIDI tracks in the sequencer and support for external MIDI devices. Tapping a Natural Interest "Video and animation sequences," says Snow, "provide very interesting problem-solving situations for kids. They can really get into it." Tapping that natural interest, people at Flood Brook are mulling over the idea of a national Young Animators Conference. Discus-sions with Apple Computer and the e*World service are underway. The idea is that children would use KidPix or other software to create a slideshow (animation), then import it into VideoShop to add text, special effects and audio. Flood Brook would serve as the clearinghouse for submittals. Ideally, Snow explains, it would be nice to take all the movies, tie them together with VideoShop and then output to videotape to duplicate copies for entrants or winners. Of course, he cautions, this is all in a very preliminary stage. A Final Compliment Overall, Snow and the other users at Flood Brook are pleased with the results of their efforts. "The nice thing about VideoShop," sums up Snow, "is that you can take good video, and with the package's transitions and special effects, turn it into something quite stunning."
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.