Tag Archives: keynote

Keypoint – web slideshows for the iPhone

Ever wanted to build a slideshow on your iPhone?

keypoint-sim.png

Well, Keypoint is a webapp, so it means I can’t sit here on my flight into Dallas this afternoon and build a presentation… besides, I have Keynote on the Mac to do that. But if I didn’t have the laptop with me, and I had access to a network, then I’d definitely play around with Keypoint. Open Safari on your iPhone and navigate to http://keypointapp.com so give it a try.

Keypoint is a beautiful, simple application that just works. You sign up on the site, and from then on the user interface is delightfully simple. You can choose from one of a limited number of templates and themes, and then quickly add text to your slides (not great for those into picture-heavy slideshows like me, I’ll admit… but great if you want to quickly summarise a series of points). You can play the slideshow by rotating the iPhone and swiping through them – no animation effects, but that’s not a big issue.

The best part is that you can share your slideshow online by sending an email to friends with a link showing where to find it so they can flip through an HTML slideshow… or, you can export it as a Keynote file and email yourself a copy! It lacks the richness of an ordinary Keynote presentation, of course… but the very fact that you can do this is just stunning to me.

keypoint.png

Here’s a very simple demo I recorded using the iPhone Simulator and iShowU:

Some media workflow updates

My earlier post on some of the tools I use in my video workflow was pretty popular, so I thought I’d post an update on some of the latest developments.

Software

I’m now using VideoMonkey for some transcoding tasks. I mentioned in my previous post that VisualHub is now defunct – it was more-or-less the de facto free transcoding tool on OS X. VideoMonkey is also free and is based on a similar codebase… currently in early development, but it works and is looking really promising.

Since I wrote the previous entry in February, iMovie 09 has been updated to 8.0.1 (and, today, 8.0.2). Amongst the “hidden” / undocumented additional features is proper HD export, which had been a bit hacky via QuickTime export before. That’s particularly handy for dealing directly with YouTube’s HD option.

One piece of weirdness I’ve encountered… I’ve been using Keynote for animating certain intro and closing sequences, and exporting as QuickTime for import to iMovie. I did that the other day, and iMovie reported that the movie file could not be imported as the format was not valid. I ran the .mov file through VideoMonkey to get a .mp4 h264 encoded video, and that imported into iMovie as required. I hadn’t come across that before, so maybe an iWork or iLife update changed something there.

Oh, and I’m no longer a stranger to GarageBand – I used that the other day for building some sequences for Dogear Nation. Ironically I still ended up exporting the “song” to iTunes, getting the .aif file, and chopping it up and re-exporting pieces as MP3 using Audacity! However, it worked very nicely for applying real-time effects and applying volume ducking etc.. Once I got my head around the interface, I was very happy.

Hardware

Latest acquisition is a Blue Eyeball USB HD microphone and camera. It’s the evolution of the Blue Snowflake that I’ve been using, but with the addition of a tiny (and I do mean tiny – the iris is really small!) HD 1280×1024 webcam which pops out of the side.

This was mentioned on MacBreak Weekly a couple of weeks ago, and being a fan of the Snowflake I expected to be blown away by this product too. The truth is – I do think it’s a lovely piece of kit, and the audio quality is great. The problem I have is around software compatibility on OS X! It turns out that iMovie can record from the internal iSight, or from a Firewire-connected webcam, but not from a generic USB webcam. This is an insane limitation that I hope Apple fixes soon! (surely no-one is going to try to persuade me that they use this as a differentiator between the consumer and pro line of products, or that there’s some inherent limitation, given that other native tools can capture the video?). The workaround, as described in the Blue Eyeball FAQ, is to use Photo Booth to do the video capture and then import and edit in iMovie. Oh, and although Skype works flawlessly with the camera, any Flash tools (like, say, Viddler and 12seconds and TweetDeck) don’t seem to want to see it. Video and still image wise, the camera is a definite step up from the iSight, but it still leaves something to be desired on the part of Apple and Adobe software support. On final thing is that it auto-adjusts image quality based on light levels, and there’s no software support for tweaking white balance etc – a bit of a shame.

Useful tools for homebrew media – my OS X workflow

As I’m sure regular readers are aware, I’m producing a wider range of media than ever before, now that I’m a regular podcaster and creating a range of video content as well. I thought it would be useful to talk a little about the range of tools that I’m using – far from professional level Final Cut or anything!

Hardware

The hardware is pretty varied. The core of the whole “system” is the MacBook Pro, which I use for pretty much all of my editing. That also has the iSight camera, which is adequate for videos which need to include my face, although I’d like something higher quality (any recommendations?). I’ve mentioned iGlasses before, which is useful for adjusting the iSight input. From an audio perspective I use a USB headset and also a Blue Snowflake USB microphone, which is absolutely great – compact, convenient, and it captures excellent quality sound.

If I need to capture video away from the computer, my current camcorder of choice is the Kodak Zi6 which can take HD 720p footage, albeit at a quality limited by the rest of the hardware (lens, sensor etc). I’ve yet to do a proper review of this, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a step up from either the Flip Mino or the older disgo Video Plus which I’d tried. I also sometimes grab snippets of video on my compact Canon camera.

Screencasting

For screencasts I use ScreenFlow. This is just a wonderful piece of software which is capable of recording both the screen, and from the iSight simultaneously. This allows the video to be overlaid into the screencast if required, so you can personally narrate what is going on. Even better than that, ScreenFlow lets you zoom in on windows and desktop features, and is really a general purpose compositing application… if you look at this video I made when I talked to a friend recently, you’ll see there are no desktop elements at all, just the video stream from the camera, a picture of him, and the audio, with some nice image tilt and reflection effects applied. ScreenFlow has also recently added text annotation features, which are really useful.

I’ve yet to use it for any practical purpose, but I also just downloaded OmniDazzle, which is now free. OmniDazzle lets you highlight areas of the screen with visual effects using a single keystroke – I can see this being useful in combination with ScreenFlow in the future.

Video editing

A few weeks ago I blogged about iMovie 09. I know a lot of people really dislike both iMovie 08 and 09, but I’m totally comfortable with both versions now, and I have to say that 09 is just beautiful. I’ve had no issues with it – it’s great for rapidly mixing and editing video, still images and audio. Watch my introductory series on YouTube or the whole thing as one movie on Viddler. I wrote a bit more about my use of iMovie back in December, too.

Here’s a tip: have you ever wanted to create some animated titles of your own? I have one word for you – Keynote! When I created the Home Camp TV title sequence it was a simple matter of creating a slide with some animated elements in Keynote, and exporting it as a Quicktime movie (which I did without sound, allowing me to overlay a choice of audio on the title sequence in iMovie). It’s great for quickly creating JPEG stills with text for titles, too.

In terms of finding audio to accompany videos… I’ve used both the pre-canned loops that come with iMovie, and also used some audio from Podsafe Audio. I do find that site a bit cumbersome to search though, so I’d be interested to know of any other useful, royalty-free resources.

Audio editing

I’ve not done a great deal on the audio-only side of things, but my essential tools here are Audacity for editing and cleanup; and Levelator for post-processing. That’s a really important point, by the way: only levelate your audio once everything is mixed together, the whole point is that it’s going to analyze everything and modulate the volume equally… if you have a bunch of snippets of audio and levelate them separately, then edit them together, you may well still end up with volume variations.

Another quick tip at this stage: to avoid issues with VBR MP3s showing up as weird (and incorrect) lengths in some tools, I bring the audio file into iTunes and do the MP3 export in there.

Imaging

For “proper” RAW photo editing and management, regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of Lightroom. I use Pixelmator for finer adjustments on exported images.

Beyond that, I find that iPhoto is useful for quickly grabbing snapshots from the digital compact camera for compositing into iMovie clips. Skitch and LittleSnapper are both very useful tools as well as they enable me to rapidly take, resize and annotate screenshots or clips of web pages. For diagrams and so forth, there’s nothing that can beat OmniGraffle.

Extras

Finally, a couple of other useful bits and pieces. Transcoding to different formats is through either VisualHub (now defunct) or ffmpegX. QuickTime Pro is an essential (and highly cost-effective) upgrade too, since it lets you make very quick edits to QuickTime movie files and control the output format more finely.

There. Now, I imagine this may attract a range of “have you heard of…?” “why aren’t you using…?” and other responses, but that’s how I’ve currently settled things. Hopefully some of the tips and thoughts here will be useful to other amateur content creators, too! 🙂

An example of the value of Twittering

Tara Hunt has posted a great piece recently on Twitter for companies (by the way, if you don’t follow Tara’s blog, you really should take a look). Here’s a a small illustrative anecdote from WSTC last week.

I gave a presentation at our internal WebSphere conference that talked about Twitter, among other things (ordinarily I’d Slideshare the presentation, but it did contain some stuff I can’t post externally, sorry about that… maybe I’ll write an external version sometime).

One slight technical hitch. The conference organisers were set up to record presentations from a Windows laptop and Powerpoint using Camtasia. I was presenting using Keynote on the Mac, so I chose to use ScreenFlow to record the session (I noticed that Jason McGee did the same thing for his WebSphere sMash pitch earlier in the week). I tested beforehand and everything seemed good, but just at the end I switched virtual desktops to do an unscripted demo of something, and found a stack dump from ScreenFlow on the screen. I’d spoken for an hour, taken 15 minutes of questions… and lost the lot.

I twittered my frustration and headed out into the corridor, thinking about re-recording.
Within minutes, I checked my email and found an email offering support from one of the guys at Vara Software, who produce ScreenFlow.

Well there’s yet another illustration of the power of Twitter. Let’s be clear, they haven’t in fact been able to recover the data for me, but that doesn’t matter… this level of responsiveness and support just makes the relationship I have to that particular piece of software much more positive and sticky. I’m pretty impressed. I assume that they were using Tweetscan or Summize (Twitter mashups / “search engines”) to watch for references to their software and decide whether to respond. This was just great.

Oh, and this worked brilliantly to illustrate my point about why folks should take a look (or second look) at Twitter in the talk itself. This is increasingly becoming an important channel of communication.

The MacWorld Effect

Umm… forget the Slashdot effect.

As I write this, Twitter has apparently melted, as have several uStream streams of the MacWorld keynote.

No live video, but at least 3 sites are liveblogging it (MacRumours, TUAW, Engadget), which are going up and down alternately.

Me? I’m on old-skool IRC in #tuaw and #tuaw-adults on freenode 🙂

<iBrad> Oh god. It's finally happened.
<iBrad> MacWorld has broken the internet.

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