video

Playing Mobile Device Videos on Your Computer

Question: I emailed myself a video I took from my blackberry curve. When i try to play the video on my computer it says it can't find the file extension. What is the deal?

Answer: The deal is that you either need a program installed on your computer that can play the video file, or a program that will convert it to a common video format like Quicktime or Windows Media.

I'll cover both approaches, and will introduce you to some free and low-cost programs that'll handle the video viewing and converting. I'll also show you how to convert Quicktime or Windows Media videos into a format that can be viewed on a Blackberry, iPhone, or virtually any mobile device that supports video.

Video Players

Most computers come with some form of a video player, such as Windows Media Player that plays video files with a .wmv extension. You can also get the Quicktime video player for free from Apple that plays .mp4 video files.

However, videos that are recorded from a mobile device will usually have a different file extension, such as .3GP for movies recorded on Motorola RAZR phones. These videos won't play in Quicktime or Windows Media.

You'll need a video player designed to read the video format that your specific mobile device uses, or better yet - one that can play a wide range of video formats so that you'll still be in luck if you switch phones in the future.

Rather then look for a universal video file player, look for a video file converter. Not only will you get the ability to view all kinds of video files, but you'll be able to convert them to be viewable on other devices or other computer systems like a Macintosh. Two for the price of one.

Video Converters

How to Add Zoom, Pan,and Tilt to your Videos

Videos are one of the most powerful ways to communicate with viewers, and many times the best way to explain something on your computer is to show it in action.

You can make your videos incredibly effective by adding zoom, pan, and tilt features that focus viewer's attention to specific parts of the video.

I've even taken a single powerpoint slide covering the technical architecture of a complex software application, and used zoom and tilt techniques to keep viewers engaged and attentive for the duration of a 5 minute video of that single slide.

Here's how you can add zoom, pan, and tilt to your videos:

You'll need a copy of Camtasia Studio 6.0 or later, and they have a 30-day trial you can download that's fully-featured.

Open Camtasia and click the option to Record the Screen in the Welcome screen. Open your favorite software program and walk through a feature you'd like to demonstrate.

Save the video and then advance to the section in the video where you'd like to add a zoom or tilt effect. I find that any section that I'm verbally describing for more than 5 to 10 seconds makes a good candidate for a zoom and tilt effect.

Click "Zoom-n-Pan" from the Edit menu and shrink the green viewing rectangle to a smaller area of the preview screen. This will create a zoom and pan effect and you can preview it before saving your changes.

Record TV Shows and Cable Movies Directly to your Computer

Many people pay an extra $10 - $15 a month for a DVR to record TV shows and movies and view them later.

Did you know you could be recording TV and cable shows directly to your computer for free?

All you need is an audio/video capture adapter that plugs into your computer's USB port, like the EasyCAP USB2.0 Video Capture VHS-to-USB Adapter. Once you've hooked the adapter up between your TV and your computer, you'll be able to record any show directly to your computer in a digital video format of your choice (avi, mpeg, wmv, etc).

You can also edit the videos to remove commercials, and can even transfer these videos to your iphone or other mobile device to view them on the go.

Here's what the adapter looks like, with cables that will plug into your TV's RCA or S-Video jacks on one end, and into your computer's USB port on the other end:

The USB end plugs into your computer, and the RCA jacks plug into your TV, VCR, or cable box.

The adapter comes with Ulead Movie Maker software that you'll run on your PC. With the software running, you'll click "Video Capture" when your TV show or movie comes on and the show will be saved to your computer in high quality digital video and audio.

Yes, this adapter could also be used to make backup copies of your DVD or VHS movies (just be sure to honor any copyright laws that may exist in your country).

Videocasting tools for teachers and educators

Question: I'd like to put together some training videos for teachers in my district. It's just too hard to get everyone together in the same building, and too expensive to arrange travel for everyone in the current economy.

What tools are available for recording videos or facilitating online training sessions?

Answer: (this question is waiting for an answer. If you know the answer, please feel free to use the comment form below and be sure to leave your name and a link to your website, so I can give you credit for your answer)

How to Add a YouTube Video to Your Blog

If a picture can tell a thousand words, then a video can be even more effective on your blog or website.

You can add your favorite YouTube video to your blog by following a few easy steps:

  1. Find or Upload the YouTube video

    There are thousands of videos on YouTube that you can show in your blog. You can also upload your own video by creating a free YouTube account and using their simple upload form. They'll even convert your video into the right format for you, and will give you the HTML you need in order to view your video from your blog.

    One of my favorite YouTube videos shows a few guys who built a radio-controlled, jet-powered F14 model plane. They show the whole take off, some Top Gun flying stunts, and a near perfect landing.


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