By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Student videoblogging at Northeastern

I just finished watching videos made by my students in Reinventing the News. All of them have good points; some are quite strong from beginning to end.

A few technical notes:

  • The videos were shot with low-end digital cameras, several of which created file compatibility problems. Two students who used Flip cameras had to edit their work on their Windows laptops using Windows Movie Maker, as iMovie ’08 for Macintosh wouldn’t accept their clips. I’m sure there’s a converter, but I’d have to track it down.
  • Another student tried two different cameras — a Sony and a Casio, if I’m not mistaken — and couldn’t pull either into iMovie. She ended up having to skip the assignment.
  • I have mixed feelings about iMovie ’08 (also known, weirdly enough, as iMovie 7). Although it’s easy to use in some respects, and I figured out how to do B-roll despite a lack of documentation, it’s not as precise as iMovie 6. One student used iMovie 6 on her own Mac laptop. She and those using Windows Movie Maker seemed to have an easier time.

Video for the Web is a skill well worth teaching journalism students today. I’m glad we tried it, and I’ve got some ideas for how to do a better job of teaching it the next time.

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  1. Bill N1VUX

    Some of those are remarkably good for a first effort!

  2. chdevers

    iMovie ’08 owners can still download the full version of iMovie ’06 for free Apple: also has instructions for getting the Flip cameras to work with iMovie ’08: this helps.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    chdevers: Thank you. I had decided against asking our tech support people to install iMovie 6 on the grounds that iMovie ’08 was already installed and good to go. Not sure I made the right choice. The next time I teach this class will be in the spring of ’10, so perhaps iMovie ’08 will have improved by then.As for the Flip camera, one of my students had identified that solution. But it would have involved installing software on a university computer, which is a no-no. By the time tech support got around to doing it, the unit would have been over.I appreciate your response.

  4. chdevers

    The nice thing about iMovie ’08 over ’06 is that Apple made it easier by taking out all the features. The frustrating thing about iMovie ’08 over ’06 is that Apple made it easier by taking out all the features. iMovie ’08 is pretty much a complete “starting over from scratch” rewrite of the application, sharing only the name with the earlier versions. There was a perception that each version was getting more complex — more like a “baby Final Cut Pro” — and intimidating to casual users, so they made an explicit point to strip away all the complexity and make it a simpler tool.For novice home users that aren’t trying to do anything fancy or precise, iMovie ’08 is fine. If you’re trying to do something more involved though — pretty much anything beyond “line up a bunch of clips and maybe put some music over it” — then iMovie ’06 is probably better. It’s therefore deliberate that Apple lets iMovie ’08 users download a copy of the old iMovie ’06 if they find the new version constraining. Given how deliberate this decision to pare back iMovie ’08 was, I don’t forsee the missing functionality coming back in future versions. The better options if you want that flexibility back look like they’re going to be to use iMovie ’06 again, or upgrade to Final Cut Express.(…For future reference, understanding that it may be too late to make changes for the current semester…)

  5. PaulB3

    Dan — I’m glad it’s not just me with respect to Movie Maker and iMovie08.As you know I’m a classically trained print journalist trying to find his way in the online world.I created some video for CNN’s iReport using Movie Maker and it was surprisingly easy (see when I tried creating a video using iMovie it was surprisingly difficult, especially given the supposed intuitive nature of Apple products.I’m glad to hear I can dumb down to ’06 if beating my head against the wall doesn’t work out.As for the Flip camcorder, my mino came with software that included software for the Mac to turn the files into usable QuickTime files.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Paul: iMovie 6 isn’t dumbed-down at all — if anything, it’s more sophisticated than iMovie ’08. What I’m concerned about is the possibility (probability) that Apple isn’t going to support it anymore.I think what I’m beginning to realize is that iMovie ’08 is superficially easier (very game-like), but harder to work with.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    By the way, Paul — nice job with the videos! Congratulations on getting one of them picked up by CNN.

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