Many teachers have commented on the videos and asked about how we create the shows and some of the tools and gear that we recommend for teachers getting into podcasting and video production. So, here you go.
All items listed on this page are tools that Tim and Bill either use regularly or recommend to others. Feel free to share comments and questions about the tools below.
If you’re interested in checking out any of these items please use the links provided so that EdTech Moment will receive some credit to help cover hosting and production costs. We are determined to keep tutorial videoss free for all teachers, so this is one way that we can help to cover our costs.
Blue Snowball – The Snowball was one of the first studio grade USB condenser microphones on the market, and continues to be a staple in the podcasting area. It is a great utility mic with many different ways that you can use it. The selector switch on the back of the mic lets you choose three different settings changing the mic from a directional mic to an omni-directional mic, or directional with a -10db pad for recording louder sources. I have a set of 8 of these that I use in my classroom for kids working on their Digital Sotytelling projects, narrations, or Voice Overs for videos. The Snowball is about the size of a softball, comes with the desktop stand that you see in the picture, and is very strong to hold up to steady use, even by kids.
Blue Yeti / Yeti Pro – The Yeti and Yeti Pro are also studio grade USB condenser microphones from Blue. The difference betweeen the Yeti and Yeti Pro is that the pro features both USB and XLR output options if you would like to be able to plug into a professional analog sound system. The yetis also have more features than the Snowball with gain control, a mute switch, and a headphone jack for moitoring your sound as you record. The Yetis also have multiple sensitivity patterns like the Snowball, but also include the option to record in stereo with multiple capsules inside the head of the mic. This model comes with the desktop stand and is Bill’s main microphone for podcasting, videos, and hangouts.
Blue Spark Digital – The Spark Digital is the new kid on the block both from Blue Microphones and in my studio setup. It is again a studio grade condenser with a larger capsule than the other Blue microphones but does not have the ability to adjust the pickup patterns. It is permanently set to the Cartioid patter which means that it is directional to the front of the mic. It does include headphone monitoring with gain and volume control and a mute switch like the Yeti, but the main distinguishing feature is that Spark Digital can either connect USB to your computer or directly to your iPhone or iPad for recording on the go with an included 30 pin connector cable. (You will need the lightning to 30 pin adapter if you have the newer ipad or iphone.)
Soft Box Lighting Kit – A softbox lighting kit can be a great way to bring a smooth professional look to your webcam videos. A soft light like this will give a smoother, more even light across your subject as compared to a harder (smaller) light source which will show harsh shadows. Another way to get this effect is to use transparent white umbrellas, or shine a bright light against a white wall. The wall then becomes the light source and provides a soft light appearance. The rule of thumb is “The larger the light source, the softer the light.”
Pop up Backgrounds – These pop-up backgrounds have been a great benefit that both Bill and I have been using for our videos both for Edtechmoment and videos for our classrooms. The pop-up background is great for use to give any workspace a professional studio look. They are made from vinyl with a heavy wire spring frame inside so they pop up like the windshield shades you can get for your car. Prop it against some extra chairs, or hang it from the ceiling or mic stand and you have an instant clean background for your video shots. The best part is that you don’t have to iron them or spray them down with water like we do so often with cloth backdrops because they pop out nice and tight each time, and when you’re done just fold them up and store away somewhere for the next video. Before I had this I had my white cloth backdrop hung in the garage for shooting episodes. Now I can shoot in the comfort of my office studio and just put it away when Im done.
Camtasia for Mac / Camtasia Studio for Windows – While there are several options out there for creating screencast videos Bill and I most consistently use Camtasia. This software allows us to capture video and audio from the screen, an external webcam, system audio, and USB microphone all at the same time. Camtasia is also an integrated editing tool that allows all the picture-in-picture, text, zoom and pan, and callout graphic effects that you see in the videos. It’s great to be able to do all the capture and editing right in one integrated tool. Camtasia also allow for direct publishing to YouTube when we’re done editing, and an option to publish to a website which is a feature that I use with my university students. If you find yourself making screencast videos regularly then purchasing a dedicated screencasting tool like Camtasia is a worthwhile investment.
Logitech Webcam – This logitech webcam is a simple little webcam that I have added to my kit when I want to be able to get a different angle than the standard laptop webcam shot. It comes on a nice folding clip/stand so that I can mount it on a lamp or a box or an external monitor. I also ordered a USB extension cable to get a nice wide shot for use when I have online students joining one of my classes virtually. It has a real autofocus which the built in iSight does not have and when combined with iGlasses from ecamm I can set and lock the focal length so it isn’t trying to adjust focus during a video. Great little, inexpensive, addition to my teaching setup.
iPhone 4s – The iPhone has been a fun addition to the process as well. Current phones have great cameras built in. In combination with the Glif iPhone camera mount I can mount my iPhone on a tripod for videos as well. One of the great benefits of using the camera on the phone is the ability to set and lock both the focus and exposure for the shots. This is really beneficial when going for the white washed out background effect that we use for the tutorials.
Glif tripod mount for iPhone 4 and 4S