Ode to a four hole button

There you sit in your four hole grace, and along comes someone to sew up your face.

The first hurdle was to actually finding some software that worked.  A mystery problem with Mac is that the text editor does not work when trying to code html pages.  The code runs perfectly through a validator but refuses to display in a web browser.  It took me ages to figure this out until eventually one of the students mentioned it to me.

I then attempted to use Articulate, as suggested by one of the tutors, to discover that it does not run on a Mac platform.  I installed it on a Windows platform but my poor old PC could not cope and began to protest.

In despair, I decided to use MovieMaker and WordPress.  The code in WordPress came up with a large volume of errors when I ran it through a validator and I had some problems getting it to do what I wanted it to do.  I had some trouble with the alignment of the text and the images, even when I inserted hard returns manually into the page.  In WordPress, it is possible to switch between browser view and HTML view.

I had to shoot the video several times.  I sent the first draft out to some trusted friends who would give honest feedback.  The main theme was that the button was too small and it was too hard to see what I was doing.  I also received feedback that the music should be removed.  I added the music as I felt the clip sounded a bit hollow and empty.

The music was a headache to add in the first place.  I could not find the song I wanted (The Sewing Machine) as an MP3 however, I found it as a YouTube clip so I had to find, download and install software that extracts MP3 from video.  It also raised copyright problems using music that I had not composed myself or paid a royalty for.  There was other more suitable music that I could have used but it was being held hostage in iTunes and I could not work how to extract it.

I reshot the video from different angles and used a large cardboard model as a button with ribbon and a darning needle.  It proved an interesting point; just because you know how to do something does not mean you can impart the information clearly.

Having sewn on the same button about 10 times now, I think I am fairly expert!  My son is getting exasperated having to hold the camera yet again.  All is fair in love and war.  I help him with all his assignments.

Another obstacle with this assignment was that it was very similar to another group-based assignment and I managed to get the deadlines muddled.  A few late nights and very early mornings sorted that out – I hope!

I viewed a video by another student that had no dialogue or music but instead the student had inserted slides to indicate each step.  This caused me to really doubt myself and wondered if I was talking too much in my task or had I just chosen a task with too many components.   My own natural style is slightly cynical with tongue in cheek humour, it is hard to know if this is always appropriate.

I also wasted a lot of time trying to convert from one platform or file type to another.  The digital camera ran out of charge half way through one session and I had to switch to iPhone which creates .MOV files and not .AVI files.  Movie Maker cannot interpret .MOV files.  Most of the conversion software only runs on a Windows platform.  I found some conversion software but it would not convert the file – for reasons only known to the developers.  In the end, I had to switch from Movie Maker to iMovie and start again.

The learning

  • Wear clothes that make your arms stand out so that you don’t look like Marcel Marceau.
  • Speak SLOWLY – one of the shoots was completely unusable as I spoken so quickly I could not understand what I was saying.
  • Avoid distractions such as the leg of the table or the curtain flapping in the background.
  • Be clear on what you are trying to achieve beforehand.
  • Use images or props that are clear and easy to see.
  • Choose one software platform and stick to it.

What I would do differently next time

  • Use a surface that does not clatter when something is placed upon it.
  • Use strong and contrasting colours – the yellow ribbon against the cardboard did not stand out enough.
  • Script what I want to say and leave long pauses to allow titles to be added or simply for the learner to process the information.
  • Turn off the telephone!  The iPhone rang a few times during the filming.
  • Get more feedback early on and allow for edits and reviews.
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