Google Tilt Brush is Awh Inspiring

Check out Google’s new technology, Tilt Brush.  I already have ideas how this could be adapted for more applications than just creating art.  Imagine how this could be used for medical surgery simulation or anatomy class.  How about exploring the “inside” or middle of a molecule or atom in physics and chemistry class?  You could see how the electrons orbit the nucleus.  Or, better yet, allowing a student that is bound to a wheelchair, to interact with others in art class or even gym.  A child stuck in a hospital bed could travel to Hawaii and climb a tree!  We could build skyscrapers or a city at the bottom of the ocean!  Just dream of the possibilities.

The New KISS Principle

We have all heard the acronym, Keep It Simple Stupid or KISS principle. Well, I have brought it forward into our 21st Century supportive culture with an update. It is now, Keep It Simple and Supportive. When it comes to the world of educational videos, an animation style should support what is being taught by stimulating our visual interest. If the video portion is just regurgitating what is being said in the audio, we the viewer start, to feel insulted. Children’s (young children’s) videos tend to like this visual literal of what is being said in the audio, for teaching and reinforcing… the Direct Instruction philosophy of call, answer, and repeat which is great for instilling basic principles in young developing minds. However, for older students, and definitely college students, this style of instruction will come across as childish and boring. Because of that, this style of video will not stimulate the viewer.

Here is a great example of what I am talking about.

This video is also very simple, and minimal, in its construction. Because of this less time and cost goes into producing this type of animation compared to a more complicated style, but yet is very mature. Most of this animation is comprised of still objects instead of elaborate 3D renderings or complex moving characters. A slight visual vibration effect is added to the still objects to create a sense of motion, or life, in objects. There is also a cyclical brightness oscillation that can be seen, changing the scenery from light to dark to light again adding a passage of time feel to the objects and background using a pulsing feel. These few basic ideas all add to the engagement factor, while not distracting the viewer from the import part, the information that the narrator is imparting upon us. Could we employ this style to teach history or psychology? Heck yes!

Simple… entertaining… not distracting… and just plain cute!

Cooking Panda… Great example of instructional video, not how to prepare panda

For today’s video-style inspiration, we are going to looking at Cooking Panda videos from Facebook. Woo. Woo. Settle down. These videos are not how to cook panda, but instead how you can easily make awesome tasty dinners at home. The videos show step by step all of the ingredients and the preparation in cooking simple 20-30 minute recipes. The videos are always shot from above the countertop, giving us a first-person view of the prep work, as if we are doing the prep ourselves. This first-person view gives us that “this is easy, and I can make this” feel and as a visual style, it is very contemporary looking. Time-lapse or hyper-lapse, shooting condenses the prep of the food into a 60-second video. Let’s face it, 60 seconds is the max of my attention span, so this is a win-win! The use of jump cuts betweens steps helps to accelerate the timeline of the video and provides a magical feel. Just wave the spatula above the food, apply jump cut, wha la! Magic… your peppers are already grilled. And let’s face it, we did not need to watch the grilling of peppers. Clear and even lighting, with a sharp deep focus in the shooting style, and saturated colors make everything in the shots look tasty.  Add some playful music to make things even more fun!

Next time you need to make an educational video, especially a science lab video, think about applying aspects of the Cooking Panda video style, and you will make a very well received video.



We just watched an educational video! Are you sure? I was so entertained!

This week’s video style inspiration comes from one of my favorite tv hosts, Adam Savage. Adam Savage was one of the quirky characters of the dynamic duo c from the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters. That tv show has recently come to an end, which has made me sad. However, now Adam has more time to dedicate to other projects such as the website This site is dedicated to posting challenges to its fans, and it also shows its viewers how to make some pretty cool stuff, all in the name of art, science, math, and tech.

Back to the task at hand, talking about great video. There are many things I love about this video. The fun playful approach makes me want to watch this video from beginning to end; by the way, it is the perfect length at 60 seconds. Two, the impromptu guerilla non-professional style approach to the shooting lends a feeling of authenticity to the content. Modern video viewers, who tend to watch content on their phones, love watching user generated content. Three, quick cuts and energetic video game based music drives the pacing, which keeps the viewer engaged. Four, the steps in the video are numbered, which helps with a teaching style aspect. We, the viewer, can easily follow along and thus, we feel we can replicate the processes scene. Lastly, the use of on-screen graphics (text) informs the audience what is happening, without a boring distracting voice-over. The text overlays the on-screen action. If this video had a voice-over, it would be a boring yawnfest. The only problem is the translucent quality of the text. Any light colored, or white colors found in the video caused issues with the transparent text. If the text were opaque, this problem would be solved. The creators of the video did use a fun vibrant three color palette. The use of color in the text is great. The colors are used in a way to replace bold-faced fonts, different sized text heads, and to create visual emphasis to help speed up the readability.

Well done, Mr. Adam Savage and team. This video style would work amazingly well for math or science based educational content. Does this give you any ideas? Now, go out and create educational awesome!

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Politics suck, but awesome video styles rock!

This week’s inspiration is a political video starring Adam Carolla. I know, I know, I know. This is not a political forum. Luckily, the video doesn’t talk about policy or candidates. What is great about this video is the style in both the visual composition and the narrative used to drive it.

How did PagerU create such a successful hybrid video? First, the script is written in a conversational style. In other words, the narrative is basic and easily digestible. Second, the videography was kept very basic. There is only one person on screen, with a minimal background and wearing simple clothing. The onscreen talent does not move, and the camera is kept static. This basic approach gives us a personable touch, but does not distract us from the message being conveyed. The real video is used to move the narrative forward. By itself, the real video would make for a good video. However, as educators, we want to increase the engagement factor. Animation and motion graphics are used all the time to add flash, glitzy, and grammar. These aspects do not always lend themselves to making a successful educational video. If used in the right way, to help reinforce ideas, these graphical elements will help drive the point/idea home. Just like the real video component, the animation was kept simple. Remember, flat illustration and design is clean illustration and design. Minimal does not steal attention or distracts us, and it is visually easy to digest. Flat animation is also easier to build. Easy to build means less production time is needed, which means money is saved and has quicker-to-market timelines. Flat animation also requires less computer hardware resources to render; you do not need a $5,000 supercomputer to kick out your video.

As always, remember the K.I.S. Principle… Keep It Simple. Let the video move the narrative forward and tell the story, let the animation create the engagement factor and establish the desired pacing. Real video adds credibility and a personable touch through its 1-on-1 feel. Animation can add stats, transitions, and some entertaining motion to the video. First things, first. Always create a storyboard. A good storyboard will help you visually layout all of your graphical elements and will make it easier to get everything fit on the screen and not feel crowded.

Be creative, be clear, be simple and most importantly… have fun!

Microcomputers… The New Where It Is at in Tech

From time-to-time, I like to write about new technology or gadgets that I find out there in the eWorld.  I like to brainstorm how these devices could be utilized in education or how I might have fun just playing with them.
Intel just released the info on their 2nd Gen of their Compute Stick.  This device will help revolutionize education technology.  With its $120 price (at Micro Center), any home with a tv can now easily afford a computer.  Just add a keyboard, mouse, tv, and internet connection and you will be surfing the web or streaming media in minutes.  This device runs Win10 or Ubuntu (Linux).  I think I might purchase one to play with at home.
Do you want to teach a child about computer hardware and how to code?  Want to make it fun?  Check out this kit put together by Kano.  This kit takes advantage of the nerd cult sensation known as Raspberry Pi.  Add a tv to this little microcomputer, and once again you have a somewhat powerful computer and are connected to the web.  This kit, being geared towards engaging children into the world of code, provides fun tasks that include making your own Minecraft world.
Check out the17 links.

Paper and Pen Meet the 21st Century

Are you like me and you just love the way a good ink pen writes or draws in a notebook? Do you love putting things in the microwave? I sure do. Like me, would you die without the Cloud? Would you like to combine all of these loves? “Tell me more,” you say. Meet the new innovative Rocketbook Wave: Cloud Connected Microwavable Notebook.

It is a notebook that you write/draw in with an ink pen like any other notebook. Then using the special smartphone app; all of your notes and sketches make it to your prespecified Cloud locations (Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, MS Notes, email). Now, that is truly cool. But this nifty notebook isn’t done. You can erase the entire notebook, all the pages, by heating it up in the microwave! Shut the front door, you say. This notebook is designed to be heat-resistant. Just write in it with a Pilot Frixion pen, which you can get at any office supply stores. These pens use a special thermochromic ink that turns clear when exposed to heat. Just microwaving the notebook with your afternoon Hot Pocket will wipe the entire thing clean. You can even use a hair dryer to erase a single page.

This amazing idea launched on Kickstarter on February 3. As a videographer and an artist, I am going to buy one to help me make storyboards for my videos. – Rocketbook: Cloud Connected Microwabable Notebook

Go check out their demos for yourself.


Inspiration on a Friday

Not sure if you have noticed, but I like to point out little inspirations that I find out in the world.  Most times, these are examples of interesting, well done, and effective videos.
This first video I stumbled across today.  It is very clean video due to its minimal nature.  This style could easily be applied to educational video.
As for this second video, I felt the creators took advantage of music to help move the video.  The music dictated the pacing of the video and not the other way around.  This is a really well done commercial.
Now the best for last.  I got to see James Bond Spectre this weekend.  This opening sequence is one single tracking shot.  No cuts.  Just amazing how the choreographed the camera movements to make this happen.  How does one fluid take make this scene feel to you?  The use of the shot switching from up close to overhead makes me feel like I am a fly there, observing the moment.

Always keep your eyes open, you never know what you might find.