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From Video to Web: Making an INTIME Video

The process of creating an INTIME video is quite complex. Videos developed by the project are streamed from the project website. The streaming product that is used is available from RealNetworks. It supports both MAC and PC platforms. The clients use RealPlayer to access media from the RealServer located at the University of Northern Iowa. The videos are encoded in RealNetworks sure stream format. The sure stream encoding process enables the content creator to encode a video one time supporting different delivery bandwidths. This means that when the video is requested from the video server, the video quality streamed to the client will change as the clients' bandwidth changes. RealPlayer also has an auto-update feature, which guarantees the client has the current player. The RealPlayer product is SMIL compliant, providing flexibility for synchronizing different media together. To view the videos online, users need to download a free version of RealPlayer (instructions for downloadingRealPlayer are on the INTIME website under Help). 

Once the activities have been taped by our 3-person camera crew and analyzed by project staff, the selected clips are condensed, reviewed, edited, encoded, transcribed, synchronized, and eventually streamed from a media server at the University of Northern Iowa. The steps of moving the video from its original form to its final web version follow:

  1. Classroom Taping: A crew of three people goes to classrooms in each of the five participating states to tape the classroom activities. The crew uses three professional digital cameras (Sony DSR300L with studio accessories and Vinten tripods) to capture both wide-angle and close-up views. The teacher wears a small, wireless microphone (lav mic). An additional lav mic is used if there are teaching assistants or media specialists helping the instructor. To capture student audio, an omni-directional stick microphone with a parabolic reflector and a PZM table microphone are used plus microphones mounted on the cameras. The classroom activity is followed by an interview with the teacher describing and commenting on the activity. The taping usually takes from one to seven hours.

  2. Graduate Assistants Review: Over 3-4 days, our team of graduate assistants (GA) views a copy of the VHS classroom activity tape. Each GA has researched a specific aspect of the TFQE Model and reviews the tape, looking for approximately 5-7 minute scenes that demonstrate that specific area of the model. Based on their model checklist, the GAs note counter times and write narratives of how the activity reflects the model. Another GA selects clips for the teacher interview video and creates the activity overview video.

  3. Rough Cut Meeting: To confirm their selections, the GAs meet with Project Directors to view VHS tape rough cuts of their selected scenes and narrations to determine the best ones to use. 

  4. Editing: A team of student editors edit the narratives, double-checking selected counter times and scenarios. Additionally, they indicate how the live audio clips and narration should be mixed to tighten up the scenes. 

  5. Recording Professional Quality Voice Overs: The video producer contacts the local voice talent to record the narratives. The talent is recorded in a PMB-2 Soundbooth package audio booth from Markertek Video Supply with an Audio Technica ATM31a microphone. Sound Forge 4.5 is used to record the narration as a WAVE file.

  6. Final Edit & Titles: All nine videos are edited using Avid Media Composer 10.1. First, the footage needed is digitized at 2:1 resolution. Then the footage is synced on three television screens. This allows the editor to switch between camera angles while editing. Next, the narratives are put together with the video clips. The sound levels are tweaked, choosing the best microphone and audio track for each part. Titles and dissolves are added, color is adjusted if necessary, and the camera angles are chosen. Editing all nine videos (of approximately 5-7 minutes each) for each classroom activity takes approximately one week.

  7. Edited Video Encoded and Posted for Transcription: A digital tape master copy of the edited video is encoded for MPEG and Real Video to be viewed over our Local Area Network (LAN) and the Internet. Movie Maker MPEG Encoder by Optibase is used to make the MPEG file. This file is converted to a Real Media (rm) file using Real Producer. The MPEG 1 format of the videos can be used for transcoding to RealMedia format any time Real upgrades the RealMedia codecs. 

  8. Creating a Video Transcript: Student employees view the video from either the LAN or Internet and create an ASCII file (plain text) transcript. Before being posted to the INTIME web site, the transcript is checked against the video for spelling, punctuation, and accuracy. 

  9. Adding Scrolling Text: The text file is processed through a parsing program, written by student, to separate the text into five word segments and add time codes for the final real text format. Teachers and students are identified in the scrolling text by the labels "Teacher" and "Student" as appropriate. The result of this process is a new ASCII text file that is time-code synchronized with the video in order to scroll the text with the video. 

  10. Synchronize Video with Scrolling Text: Using RT Maker, student employees watch the videos and put the time-code into the ASCII text file. The resulting files pair the video, audio, and scrolling text of each video. It takes approximately 60 - 90 minutes to synchronize 6 minutes of videotape with the transcript, thus requiring approximately one full day for each set of eight videos. The product is finished by creating a SMIL file that joins the video and the real text file together.

  11. Videos Posted to Web: As the video files and web pages become available, they are posted on a multi-terabyte storage area network using a file server and to a separate web server. This content will then be available via the Intra and Internet. The file server and media servers have equal access to the files placed on the storage area network.

  12. Database Entry: Student employees enter the information about the videos via a webpage form into a database that allows a user to search for videos based on the model elements in the video. The database was created using Microsoft Access software and works in tandem with Microsoft IIS.

  13. Video Distribution: Currently, one media server with access to the multi-terabyte storage array delivers the video to users in combination with a separate web server. A load balancer works across three media servers that will have equal access to the multi-terabyte storage array to handle the growing traffic. The media server utilizes the RealServer product and is capable of streaming RealMedia, QuickTime, MPEG1, MPEG2, MP3 and various other formats allowing the university the flexibility for delivering content to our users. 

  14. Alternative Distribution: The videos are also available in CD and DVD formats, where necessary to provide improved quality of service.