Media Management



(added 26/4/09)
Australian voices
At this point in time, there is still no confirmation as to when Australian voices will be shipped with Clicker 5. However, an inexpensive option is now available. Claro has released WordRead Plus. It is an excellent text to speech software program which reads documents, web pages and emails. It also converts text to audio files.
It comes packaged with the RealSpeak voices Karen and Lee. These high quality Australian voices can be utilized by Clicker 5. For around $150 it makes an excellent option. The RealSpeak voices can be previewed at Nuance.


(added 26/4/09)

Media Conversion (Part 3)

In recent workshops, participants have been trialling Format Factory. It has produced excellent results and proven to be very intuitive to use. The formats which can be converted are listed below.
All to MP4/3GP/MPG/AVI/WMV/FLV/SWF.
All to MP3/WMA/AMR/OGG/AAC/WAV.
All to JPG/BMP/PNG/TIF/ICO/GIF/TGA.
Rip DVD to video file , Rip Music CD to audio file.
MP4 files support iPod/iPhone/PSP/BlackBerry format.
Source files support RMVB.

Note: Converting videos to wmv is recommended for Clicker 5.


(added 19/1/09)

Crazy Talk

On the Wishlist page, there is an entry which raises the issue of using Reading Coaches to support students with the activation of reading comprehension strategies. Crazy Talk is another option. This program utilizes still images to create talking characters. The voice can be recorded with a microphone or created from text (and utilizing the text to speech engines on your computer). The lip syncronization is quite good and the use of good quality SAPI 5 speech engines gives a good quality output. The program can be used in a wide range of contexts.
crazy_talk_sm.jpg

A sample video can be viewed or downloaded.

Download australian giraffe.wmv


(added 22/10/08)

Wave Sounds

Thoudands of free wave sounds can be found at http://www.wavsource.com/. Categories include sound effects, animals, tv and movie themes, and famous people.

wave.jpg

The Flip

The Flip video camera is quickly becoming the essential tool for video capture.
It has a number of great features including non-glare LCD screen and microphone to review recordings, up to 1 hour of recording, instant viewing with TV out cables, builtin software for converting the files and instant transfer via USB. Its most impressive features are the intuitive (and minimalist) control buttons.

In South Australia, the Flip can be purchased at Leading Digital.

The Flip comes in a range of colours but it is worth considering the black one as it has a matt, non-slip finish.
flip.jpg
The conversion software can be used to compress the recorded videos to Windows Media Video (wmv) format.
This format is recognized by Clicker 5.

Click on the 'Share Videos' option.
Select 'Public Online Sharing'.
Select 'Upload to other websites'.

The video will now be compressed to a wmv format and can be found in a folder on the Desktop named 'Flip Videos for Uploading'.
flip01.jpg

(added 25/4/08)

Switch Operable Video Camera

This video camera is available from Zabonne.
  • Built in switch jack
  • 3.1 megapixel image quality
  • 1.5" colour LCD display
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • 4 picture sizes, at mulitiple resolutions
  • Expanded memory available with purchase of SD/MMC card
  • Camera takes JPEG photos
  • Record short videos with sound (AVI video format)
digital_camera.jpg
The Joby Gorillapod firmly secures your camera to just about anything — anywhere and everywhere! Unlike traditional tripods, Gorillapods do not require a level or elevated surface for you to take the perfect shot. Wraps around any tubular object - including whelchair frames.
gorillapod-pole.jpg

(added 8/3/08)

Media Conversion (Part 2)

This is the second part to an earier entry on this page on tools to be used to create multimedia files compatible with Clicker 5.
SUPER (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer) is a freeware program which can be used to create mpeg videos from any type of format. It can create videos from an extensive range of formats including DVD, Flash and QuickTime. This is especially useful for converting movie clips from digital cameras (such as Olympus) which record in QuickTime format. The program has been tested with a QT movie and it successfully encoded the file (with audio) to an mpeg video.
Technical information
The 27.58 MBytes installation file comes with all windows compiled versions of ffmpeg, MEncoder, mplayer, x264, mppenc, fmpeg2theora and the libavcodec library (compiled inside ffmpeg and MEncoder).
The official download link can be found at the bottom of this page.


(added 9/12/07)

Image Resizing


A previous entry on this page outlines a procedure to reduce the file size of high resolution images. This procedure is unnecessary with the latest update to Clicker (version 5.25). The images will automatically be reduced in file size. In a recent test, ten images with a file size of 2.2- 2.5 Mb (totalling 24 Mb) were inserted in to a grid. The resulting Clicker grid size was 2.1 Mb. While in Edit Mode, the Pictures Used tab was selected to show the listing of the images and the file size they were reduced to. There isn't a set formula to the reduction. Some of the images were reduced to 90 Kb. Most were reduced to 160 - 200 Kb.
It was possible to insert a 7 Mb image with the automatic resize being 80 Kb.
pics_used.jpg



(added 22/11/07)

Tuff Cam


tuff-cam.jpg
The TTS group have released a new portable video recorder called a Tuff Cam.
It is similar to the Digital Movie Creator featured in an earlier entry further down this page.
However, the resolution is significantly higher, it has a built in flash and can playback video.


(added 29/10/07)

Filesize of Clicker Grids

The file size of Clicker Grids is directly related to the file size of the media used. To keep grids to a manageable size, check the file size of the media prior to inserting it in the grid. Most newer digital cameras produce large image files. Irfan View is one freeware option to reduce the digital photo to a smaller file size. The help file below outlines how to resize an image and to resize a whole folder of images (Batch convert) at once.



(added 16/10/07)

Create your own PCS Metafiles with Irfan View

Clicker 5 can not utilize Boardmaker when attempting to add symbols as you type. The PCS Metafiles CD is required for this purpose. This collection is made up of the core symbols of Boardmaker. The 3500 symbols are in Windows Metafile (wmf) format and they can be inserted in to any application which supports this graphics format. This CD is highly recommended for adding visual supports in Clicker Writer and Grid cells.
However, it is possible to create your own metafile version of symbols from your copy of Boardmaker. A number of graphic editing programs could be utilized. Irfan View is an excellent freeware option.
Use Symbol Finder to locate the desired symbol in Boardmaker (and modify the image if necessary). Remove the text from the image and copy the image to the computer clipboard. Open Irfan View and select Paste. Save the image (jpeg format recommended) with the appropriate name.

meta3.jpg


(added 14/10/07)

Text to Audio Creation with Clicker 5 and Audacity

There are a number of programs which can create an audio file from a body of text. Some of them (which utilize high quality speech engines with natural sounding voices) include Read and Write Gold, ClaroRead and TextAloud.
It is also possible to utilize the text to speech engine of Clicker 5 to create an audio file with a free program called Audacity. Audacity is a program which can capture and edit audio from a number of sources (sound card, microphone and external). The program is available in Mac or Windows.
A help file outlining the procedure can be downloaded from the Tutorials section.

A recording of the text featured in the screenshot below can be previewed here.

text2audio.jpg


(added 9/10/07)

Photo to Sketch

Photo to Sketch is a freeware program which can convert photos to pen or pencil sketches. It is a useful utility to create sketches for Clicker Paint activities.

photo2sketch.jpg


(added 6/10/07)

Flash! Pro 2

Flash! Pro 2 is a CD-Rom containing around 10,000 colour photographs in jpeg format. They can be printed out to make flashcards for speech and language activities. It is also a useful resource if visual supports are required in Clicker 5 documents or grids.
In Australia, this resource can be purchased from Spectronics.

View sample images of Flash! Pro 2 in the Slideshare below.




(added 4/10/07)

Web Cams

Video production is within easy reach with the use of a Web camera. Even though there are some limitations compared to the use of video camera, a web cam can be a very effective capturing tool in many classroom situations.
The Logitech web cams which support the use of Video Effects are particularly worth investigating. The software bundled with these models allows the use of Avatars. The face tracking technology calibrates the facial features of the user and the result is a synchronized recording of the selected Avatar. Free Avatars can be downloaded from the Logitech web site.
This link contains information about the compatible models and the pages to download the software and the Avatars.
This screenshot shows three examples of some of the Avatars available.
avatar_samples.jpg

View a video sample of a rabbit Avatar created by a student for his interactive Adventure Quest story.




(added 4/10/07)

Digital Movie Creator 3


digital_movie_creator3.jpg These video recorders are worth investigating. The resolution is of minimal but sufficient quality. Its big advantage is that it is easy to use, is very robust (made of high strength plastic), and is bundled with very intuitive video editing software. This new version now allows for memory expansion with an SD card slot. Digital Movie Creator 3



(added 4/10/07)

Animated gifs

Clicker documents and Grids support the use of animated gifs.Clicker 5 users can purchase animated gifs created by Cricksoft or Mayer-Johnson. Alternatively, you could utilize animated gifs downloaded from the Web.
One example below shows an animated gif to support students with Hearing Impairments. The process for creating this animated gif with a digital camera or webcam (and some intuitive conversion software) is outlined in a section called Media Conversion.

climb.gifbutterfly.gifgiraffe.gif




(added 4/10/07)

Media Conversion

It is possible to create your own animated gifs for use in a Clicker document. The animation will first need to be captured with a digital camera (in movie mode) or a web cam. The video file can then be converted in to an animated gif. Conversion options include:
  • Free online conversion service at Media Convert or Zamzar.
  • Free media converters such as MediaCoderand RAD Video Tools.
  • 123 Avi to Gif Converter is highly recommended to create an animated gif. The program gives the user a range of editing controls including the removal of frames, the adjustment of frame rate speed and resizing the animation.

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