Friday, 1 November 2013

Capturing a VIP lecture (video and audio)

As mentioned in previous blog posts (see the bottom three posts here), I'm trialling the Panopto lecture capture software. One of the tasks I set myself back at the beginning was to capture VIP lectures on one of my modules. The opportunity came this week with a session by John Rushforth, UWE Deputy Vice-Chancellor (there are no public samples in this post because he was talking for an internal audience)

I simply set Panopto to "Record" before John began, and stopped Panopto after he had left. Not complicated at all.

First of all John gave a talk standing at the lectern with a set of prepared slides, and then he moved to sit with the audience for a question and answer session. This meant that I had in effect two sets of material in one recording:
  • Video image plus slides for the presentation
  • Audio only (lower volume) for the Q and A session
1. Audio track of Q and A

I started editing by exporting the whole sound track from Panopto as an MP3 file, which I opened in Audacity, my favourite (free) sound editor. I'll talk more about Audacity in a later blog post. I trimmed off the bits before and after the Q and A session and used the Amplify tool to make everything louder except for the applause at the end.

The result was acceptable apart from some high level noise, so I then applied a low pass filter to cut out the top end (I could have tried a noise removal filter instead, but I didn't have any wild track without conversation to act as a reference signal for the filter)

Finally I exported the result as an MP3 file and uploaded it into Blackboard - a reasonable recording in the circumstances, certainly fit for purpose.

2. Video with slides

I then returned to Panopto and used the "handles" to mark the start and end points for the video. Panopto is a bit more "twitchy" than other video editing software I've used, and I often found myself having to reselect the mark several times to get it right. Either the interface is less intuitive, or I haven't totally got the sequence right yet.

Having got the handles in the right places, I exported the required section of video as another Panopto file, waited for it to process, "shared" the presentation and copied the URL into Blackboard for my students.

I chose to share the link to view the presentation via the Panopto viewer, with windows for the presenter and the slides, rather than exporting it as picture-in-picture for example. I made this choice to allow students to move around within John's well-structured slide set, and to avoid the picture-in-picture effect obscuring part of one of John's most important slides.


The whole package I put into Blackboard consisted of John's original slides, the Panopto video of the presentation, and the audio recording. Between them they "capture the moment" (see another earlier blog post) reasonably effectively. I'm particularly pleased with my a first attempt at "rescuing" lower level audio from the video recording.

In terms of time, it probably took me around an hour (total) to edit the audio and the video, including some pauses while the files were processing. I'm fairly used to this sort of thing, but without some previous basic experience of editing audio and video it would have taken me longer.

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