Part Two of A Great Homeschool Project – Making A Movie

Lights! Camera! Action!

Lights! Camera! Action!

Last week I introduced A Great Homeschool Project – Making a Movie. If you haven’t read last week’s article, you can click here to see it.  When I started writing Part Two, I had a hard time deciding the direction I should take. I did not want the article to read like an instruction manual.  So, I have changed my strategy a bit.

Last week we ended with the student making a folder with their project name.  The student was also told to open a new project and save it to that same folder.  All the images, pictures, videos, music, audio, and script of the narration go in this folder. It helps your student stay organized when all the movie items are in one place.  Today I want to give some basic tips about Movie Maker for parents that are thinking about giving this type of project to their homeschool students.

Before going any further, I suggest having your student edit their photographs to a size that works well with Movie Maker. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to crop my photographs, but any photo editing software will work. I crop all of my horizontal photographs to 810 pixels by 612 pixels with a resolution of 300.  Save these photographs with a different name from the original, because the original pictures might be needed for something else later. These newly saved photographs will be the ones used in the movie. Vertical photographs can be used but blank black space will appear on each side of the screen. Limit the use of vertical images.

Movie Maker is pretty easy to understand and gives you more than one way to complete a task.

What are the tasks that need to be done?

  • Import all media items into Movie Maker.
  • Preview and edit your imported video before dragging into the timeline/storyboard.
  • Create Movie Title, Credits at movie end, and any text slides that need to go in between.
  • Arrange all media items in correct order in the timeline/storyboard.
  • Record audio for narration using recorder in Movie Maker or a separate sound recording software. If audio is recorded outside of Movie Maker, it will need to be imported into the project also.
  • Choose animations that will be used on text slides. My personal favorites are Basic Title, Moving Titles Layered, and Fade In and Out.  I also use the Basic Scrolling Stacked Credits at the end of the movie.
  • Choose transitions that will occur between images or video such as fade in from black, dissolve, or flip.
  • Determine the length images and text slides need to be when previewed with audio.
  • Preview whole video to make sure that all images, video, text and narration flow together properly. Make adjustments.
  • Check flow of movie one more time!  You will be amazed how things shift when you move one thing. Check and recheck!
  • Last step: Publish the movie. Once you have put all the pieces together, you are not done. You have to publish the move. Movie Maker takes the project and produces a movie that can be played on a media player.

Now let’s talk briefly about the layout of Movie Maker:

Importing Media

Importing Media- Figure 1

The upper left hand side of the computer screen shows all the task bar links. (Figure 1) Media (images, video audio and music) is imported using these links. Titles, credits and slides including text are placed in the movie through the links under Edit.  Transitions and effects can also be opened and placed in the movie in this left hand area.

Splitting Video

Preview Screen - Figure 2

The upper right hand side of the computer screen houses the preview screen. (Figure 2) This is where you can see your images, text slides and imported videos. The preview screen allows you to watch the whole video or just a single clip. The preview screen is where you edit your videos if they need to be split or trimmed.  You can change the preview screen size by going to View on the taskbar.

Switch from Timeline to Storyboard - Figure 2

Switch from Timeline to Storyboard - Figure 3

The lower part of the computer screen houses the timeline and storyboard. This is where the movie items are placed and the movie is created. Switching back and forth from Timeline to Storyboard is easy. It just takes one click. (Figure 3) I usually work in the Timeline work space, but that is just my personal preference.  The timeline gives more detail than the storyboard view. The storyboard view is the default view with Movie Maker.

You can see that there is a lot to learn if you are going to make a movie as a homeschool project. My advice is to start small.  Limit the number of animations, transitions and effects the student can use in their movie.  Allow your student some time to play with the buttons, effects, animations, and transitions to see what everything does.  Once they get the feel of the software then they can get to work putting their movie together.

I hope this article has inspired homeschool parents to challenge their children to make a movie as a project. I would love to hear how things go. I will answer questions or write more on the subject if there is enough interest. Plus, I would love to see any videos that your students produce. Let me hear from you. I can’t wait to see some projects!

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