Tech It Out Tips

Leeward faculty/staff receive tips delivered to their inbox.

August 25, 2014
by Rachael Inake

“Purify” YouTube Videos with ViewPure

ViewPure removes comments, ads, and related videos, allowing you to watch YouTube videos without distractions or inappropriate ads, comments, or related videos. This is perfect for showing YouTube videos in class.

It’s simple to use.

  1. Find a YouTube video and copy the share link.
  2. Go to and paste the link in the box that says, “Enter YouTube URL or search term…”
  3. Click “Purify”. Copy the link of that webpage; that is the webpage to show your video in class.

In my experience, there are still some ads, but I think it’s less, and it removes the comments and other distracting related videos posted around it.

August 15, 2014
by Les

Video and Photography Composition Tips

All of us want to create visually interesting images, whether we’re drawing, painting, photographing, or capturing video.  There are some basic rules that apply to the framing of a shot and especially to images that include people.  You might find these tips interesting when recording your lectures for classes too!

From Nikon USA website

Composition is how you choose to frame the video you’re about to capture; and composition is just as important for video as it is for still photography.

Rule of Thirds
One of the most basic composition rules is the Rule of Thirds. When you look through at your subjects, using Live View on the LCD screen, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid over the scene. Notice where these lines intersect. The rule of thirds suggests that these intersection points are the ideal places to position your subject. Doing so will generally result in a pleasant and balanced composition. Try moving your camera so your subject appears where two of the lines meet. The subject doesn’t have to be directly on the intersection but somewhere close to it. Try a couple of different compositions to find the one you like best.

Establishing Shots, Medium Shots, Close-up Shots
When shooting video, you want to vary the types of shots for a more interesting feel. There are three types of shots that you’ll always see in videos and movies from big Hollywood productions to commercials and even wedding or occasion videos.

The Establishing shots are the wide shots. It allows the viewer to take in the entire scene and as an establishing shot is often the first shot in a scene.

Medium Shots can be of a subject (full length or cropped); or a medium shot can be a tighter shot of a scene, that doesn’t include all of the surroundings that a wide or establishing shot.

Close-up shots are tightly cropped shots showing fine detail. Close-up shots can be of a person’s face, an action occurring that is important to the storyline of your movie or simply a tightly cropped shot that shows details of an object.

Where to Crop or Frame a Shot of a Person
Similarly to still photography, you want to make sure when deciding where to crop for shots that show people, that you do it in a way that will make the final footage look pleasing to the eye. Cropping at major joints should be avoided.

For example, If you’re showing a person full length, you don’t want to accidentally crop them at the ankles. Likewise, for a medium shot, don’t crop a person at the knees. Frame your shot just above your subject’s knees. Lets go for a little bit tighter of a shot now, but don’t crop your subject at the wrist, as the viewer will be left wondering where their hands are. Lastly, when framing a tight close-up of a person, you can actually get away with cropping part of their head, so long as their eyes fall on the top line of your imaginary rule of thirds grid.

What is Headroom?
Headroom is the amount of space above your subject’s head in a frame. Too much space isn’t good, so make sure that you’re only leaving a small amount of airy space above your subject’s head.

August 15, 2014
by Les

Creating Better Videos

If you’ve ever tried to create a video by simply picking up a camera, hitting the record button, and using a stream of consciousness style to tell a story or relay information, you probably already know that’s not the right way to approach any production, whether professional or amateur, simple or complex.

Forethought and planning are critical to successful productions…yes, even to lecture captures.  Below are some tips from Nikon that might be helpful to all of us who create materials, from slideshows and powerpoint presentations, to full videos.

6 Tips for Shooting Better Videos

From Nikon USA website

Follow these six tips for a better movie making experience with your Nikon HDSLR:

1.  Pre-production planning.  A Hollywood movie never begins shooting without all aspects of the film being planned out in the pre-production stage. Take a tip from the pros and plan out the story you want to tell using video. It can be as simple as writing out a shot list (a list of shots you want to capture); a simple outline; the dialog you wish to capture; or it can be more formal, with a script and storyboard (illustrating your movie shot by shot). This way you can keep track of what you’ve shot and what is remaining. This lets you make sure that you don’t forget to capture any important footage when you make your video.

2.  Capture a variety of shots. Telling a story will be more interesting if you’re capturing a variety of shots. The best videos are made of short clips edited together. In the film world the wide angle shot is known as the Establishing Shot and it shows the overall scene. Medium shots often include one or more subjects. Close-up shots can be cropped at the head and shoulders like a portrait, or an extreme close-up of only a part of a person or subject.

3.  Break up the monotony by moving the camera’s position. Just like its good to vary the composition of your movie with wide, medium and close-up shots, its also good to move the camera’s position if possible. Don’t shoot everything at eye-level from a standing position. Look for creative angles, low to the ground or from a high vantage point. These will make your movie more interesting for your viewers.

4.  Pad your shots. This means shooting a little extra footage before your action begins and letting the camera record a little bit extra after the action ends. Doing so will make it easier for you to edit your movie together, because you’ve got extra frames to edit around.

5.  Limit your camera motion. Too many zooms (in and out) or pans (from side to side) can be distracting to the viewer; ruining an otherwise good story. Less is more in this case.

6.  Shoot lots of stills. Still images can be incorporated into your movie as part of multimedia storytelling.

May 6, 2014
by Les

Interested in, Confused By 4K?

For anyone curious about the whole topic of 4K and all the other flavors of high definition resolution and what this all means for the consumer and the production industry…and whether it matters at all for us in education, here’s an article out of the UK that nicely addresses the topic.  It’s an easy read that won’t paralyze you with brain-numbing jargon and technical language.   Don’t be put off by the title…that’s just typical wry Euro humor.

May 5, 2014
by Les

What’s Trending From the National Association of Broadcasters


NAB Experience

The just concluded National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention can be summed up in a few telling words…4K for everyone, drones, dollies, sliders and rigs,  LEDs, and DSLRs.

A Little Set Up

LED  Flexible LED Panels

NAB used to be the domain of television broadcasters and the film industry, hence the name, but inthe last half decade or so, the evolution of image capture and the proliferation of more affordable, high quality, tools have pushed the association to adopt a more liberal definition of its purpose.  The thrust now is toward what NAB refers to as “broader-casting.”  This refers to product distribution through all of the myriad possibilities; the web, conventional television, cable, smart devices, and so on.

LiveStream LiveStream Switcher

Even producers long associated with traditional distribution methods are devising content to enhance the primary viewing experience on television screens.  The ability to distribute to second screens (devices other than televisions), and provide additional content via metadata and hidden streams of information opens up whole new viewing experiences and revenue streams for program producers.  “Transmedia” storytelling,  the creation and telling of a story or stories across  multiple platforms to maximize audience engagement and interaction,  is a growing movement that has value, not only for major commercial use, but for education as well.  More on that in an upcoming post.

This broader-casting has benefited from the integration of traditional production tools and techniques with the incredible growth of digital hardware and software to truly democratize production.  Now, virtually anyone with a video recording device (phone, point and shoot, dslr, or dedicated video camera) and access to editing software can create and share their ideas and vision with, quite literally, the world.  For us, all of these tools makes the use of high quality video and other media ever more available to the classroom

The Big Boys

For major players in the cinematic and broadcast industries, the cameras keep getting more and more sophisticated, with resolutions getting higher and higher.  We’ve rapidly gone from standard definition to high definition, to Ultra-high definition, and now the growing market for 4K resolution.  And while 4K hasn’t even really established itself in the consumer marketplace, talk has already begun about 8K.  Look for that in the next five years.  As many have observed, the only constant is that everything will change…and quickly.

Cion    AJA’s new 4K  Cion Camera

 The Not So Big Boys

 For the rest of us, the equipment gets smaller and smaller, and the tools that used to belong to only major players now have become accessible to all.  Remember beta and VHS?  In the days before Hi-8, DVDs, and DVRs, those two formats were the playground for consumers.  What followed came fast and furious…videotape is a nearly forgotten medium.  Now everyone can shoot some flavor of high definition on virtually lossless cards, resulting in better video quality ( though not necessarily better crafted products).

And the rest of hardware and software universe available to us has changed as well.  There was a time when a tripod was the only practical camera support for the common man.  Over the years, focusing rails, dollies, sliders, and cranes have become more affordable and are now ubiquitous for cameras large and small.  That proliferation of tools has coincided with growing camera options and now, much of the market is now focused on video-capable DSLRs.  These  advances have enabled independent, corporate, and other smaller producers to raise the production values in their productions.

Edelkrone    Edelkrone Railess Slider

And the quest for better ways to tell our stories and communicate our messages has grown to extremes.  Products like POV (Point of View) cameras, think GoPro, have allowed viewers to go into environments and activities in ways never thought possible a few years ago.  From mountain tops to ocean depths, from insane knife ridge bike trails to frozen caverns, these hardy and easy to mount devices have broken open the story vaults and stirred whole new ways of telling stories.

SliderEZ FX Incline Rail Dolly

In the grand spirit of discovery, once you have a tool like a DSLR or a GoPro, the search is on to see where else you can take it and what else you can create with it.  It seemed like everyone was showing off a new drone…you know, those helicopters, quad-copters, and octo-copters that seem to be showing up everywhere?  Manufacturers of these radio-controlled devices have spawned a whole support industry with the need for 3-D gimbals and other stabilizing devices for cameras attached to these flying marvels.  While the FAA works on policies to cover their use, these devices are finding their way into more and more productions.

FixedWing   Fixed Wing Drone

DJI Spreading Wings Drone   DJI

So, in a nutshell, creative minds around the world are creating better tools and techniques to help filmmakers, storytellers, instructors, anyone with a message, engage, teach, and interact with their audiences.


February 21, 2014
by Leanne Riseley
1 Comment

Projector vs Monitor Face Off

The Educational Media Center Production Team created this video to do a side-by-side comparison of display quality between a projector and monitor to answer the question: What type of display would you recommend for my classroom/conference room?

This video displays what a user would see under nearly identical viewing conditions. The capture camera (user) was placed 25 feet from the displayed image. The camera was set to capture a full screen projected image using a Christie LW 400 (4000 lumens) projector with the lights on then off. The same setting was used to record the monitor image on a 85” Panasonic Plasma Industrial display.

Three tests were conducted:

  • Spreadsheet (for text & numbers)
  • PowerPoint (for graphics)
  • Movie (for motion graphics)

Based on this experiment, if displaying legible text and numbers is your primary objective, you are best served by a projector, even though you sacrifice image brightness and contrast. Displaying PowerPoints is a toss-up because PowerPoints display both graphics and text and you have the ability to create text intended for legibility at distance. Therefore, both projectors and monitors can be successfully used with PowerPoints with a small edge to the projector for legibility and an edge to the monitor for image quality. Finally, for movies, monitors are the clear choice.

Video by Les Matsuura

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