In search of solutions to fully engage the audio-visual sensibilities of modern audiences, many are quick to explore various new multi-media platforms, digital gadgets, and social media sites – none of which are in short supply. How does one choose and which will serve best the needs and resources available?
In coming posts, I will highlight some positives and negatives of a few.
This time? The iPad:
The iPad is not an insignificant investment, but if you are going to spend the money, make sure you have a plan in place to make the greatest use of this interesting new tool. Here are a few ways I’d suggest thinking about it:
1.) As a video recorder and editor:
The iPad is amazingly versatile. I’ve enjoyed adding it to my general workflow greatly, but in terms of video acquisition and editing, I have found it lacking – until the New iPad, that is. Increasing the overall computing power and graphics processing of the pad should be a good compliment to the higher quality camera. Video you shoot with your iPad will now rival what comes from most smaller “Flip” style cams, plus it will have the added benefit of being able to add in a microphone for better audio acquisition.
Be careful, however, of planning to add the iPad into your video/photo production workflow.
You may plan to use iMovie for the iPad to do some editing but bear in mind that using video content gathered with most any other camera is problematic to say the least and impossible in many cases. This may change with future iterations of the iOS now that the New iPad has some better specs, but that is yet unseen.
Using the pad to collect short bursts of video that can be quickly shared out (say, from a live event) in order to let your audience know what is going on in real time will prove to be the handiest use of the iPad in terms of video production and acquisition, in my opinion.
There are other iPad video editing apps, however, the most notable of which is from Avid.
If you are serious about shooting with the ipad, I’d suggest using the MovieMount app from Makayama. Not only will it provide the necessary stability and tripod adapter from a hardware point of view, this app allows (from a software point of view) one to lock white balance and focus for both video and still image acquisition, which proves invaluable when shooting with the pad in variable light settings or crowds.
2.) As a way to gather and edit audio:
I’ve found that the USB Blue Snowball does a GREAT job of producing excellent sound (for about $70) and connects to the pad easily using the iPad USB “Camera connector kit” available in most electronics stores these days.
The GarageBand app for iPad is only 15 bucks and well worth it for processing and editing any sound you like. It takes some time to get used to editing in a touch screen environment, but after one or two projects, I actually prefer it. Using the iPad and the Snowball for creating/editing voice-overs to be used in conjunction with existing or re-tooled PowerPoint presentations has been a very effective combination via SlideShare.com and I would recommend it highly.
Take a look at some examples here:
This provides a way for your existing content (PowerPoint slides) to find a new, more media friendly use without involving many of the production intensive requirements of standard video packages.
3.) As a blogging tool:
I have recently begun using the iPad app “Blogsy” to add content to my existing Posterous powered blogs. This very user-friendly app has been invaluable as a writing tool. As with the Garageband app for iPad, the touch screen typing and interface will take some getting used to, but the addition of a wireless keyboard can make the transition easier. As for me, I began with the wireless physical keyboard but in time abandoned it in favor of the on screen keys. I find myself these days even becoming adept at typing with one hand!
The other handy addition to my blogging arsenal (one that I am using to compose this very post) is Evernote. Evernote’s simplicity and versatility is unmatched and I believe will end up giving Google docs a run for their money, if only because of the built in sharing mechanisms on Evernote. It is really easy to post a document to Facebook, Twitter, your email, even to your blog if you use Posterous or some other “email-in” blogging method.
This, combined with the research tools Evernote offers as browser extensions can make your life as a writer much easier. How many times when you are researching on the web have you thought – I would totally blog about this but how am I ever going to find this link again? Delicious? Email? Facebook it to myself? With Evernote, you can grab a portion of the page, just the URL or the whole page and take the time to reflect on and respond to whatever it was that inspired you – when your time allows.
Beyond any other advice I could give about the iPad and using it to create compelling content, one of the most valuable assets is the way the pad frees you up to work in places and at time that are normally not free for work flex. I use train time, waiting in line time, all kinds of extra time to do a little work on the pad and keep caught up reading, which inspires more creativity in my content creation. You can also sync other types of files to your pad for use and reading offline using a cloud based tool like Dropbox.
Use the flexibility of the pad to your advantage. When I’m working at my desktop it feels like it takes me 20 minutes of prep time just to get to a point such that I’m ready to create content. With the pad (in conjunction with the various cloud based apps available) I feel like I can jump right in and pick up right where I left off, which makes for a more nimble sense of what it means to be productive. I use the “work like a bird eats” metaphor that says it is better to do tiny bits of work all day than to try and do huge chunks of work a few times a day. Granted it may mean I’m “online” later than 5pm, but I find it to be better for my overall constitution to work this way, if only because things move so very fast these days.
The pad is also an amazingly interactive tool to share between two people. For example, advisors working across a desk to talk to students. Also, do you collect surveys at job fairs? Consider adding the iPad to your fleet of tools to collect data about/serve your students in a user friendly way at live events.
Have you found other apps or methods you think are useful? Are you looking for apps that solve specific problems? Add them to the comments…