Tag Archives: apps

Dabble with apps, share the love

As part of this latest production labs module (note: deadline looming, desperately need to get my act together!) I’ve been glued to my mobile phone. No surprise since I’m looking into mobile journalism, but a pleasant side effect is that I’m now the proud owner of some very useful apps; ones I actually use rather than sitting there soaking up storage space.

Mobile journos – in my experience – are keen to share their top tips, advice, skills, technology etc to support others, particularly as it’s still an emerging rather than established and mainstream practice. And in that vein, I wrote a blog post for local (Milton Keynes) web design agency Westfourstreet

Read: 9 apps to support your creativity


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Tinkering with social videos

Scientist being filmed with a mobile phone on a tripod

Today I’ve spent a lot of time tinkering. This follows on from last night’s tinkering session. This might mean I’m a bit of a tinkerer.

So, I’m working my way through Robb Montgomery’s mobile journalism course on Udemy (which is excellent so far, more to follow) and got distracted by the section on useful apps. So I had a tinker.

This inspired the set up for this morning’s filming with three Open University academics who are taking centre stage at a Soapbox Science event in Milton Keynes on Saturday 9th July. These events happen each year across the country, in which the finest female researchers are encouraged to shout loud and proud about science. Julia, Claire and Vibha from the OU are talking about plant wars, sniffing out disease and 3D printing on the moon, in short.

For a longer explanation of what they’ll be getting on their soapbox and shouting about, watch this video.

That video. That was what I’ve been tinkering with all morning, using an app called PicPlayPost.

Here’s what I did right and wrong…

Right (ish)

  • Recorded individual clips with each of the researchers so I could pull three different clips into the app.
  • We recorded with the sun on the researcher’s faces (avoiding too much squinting) for a nice, bright video.
  • We used lapel mics and an extention cable so the sound is clear.
  • I reshot some footage because a group of people in the background decided to do tricks with their cigarette smoke and this showed up loud and clear in the video and distracted from the speaker.
  • I was armed with lapel mics and an extension cable so we got good audio (why does a plane always fly overhead when you’re filming?)


  • I recorded the nodding bits afterwards, mostly because I wanted to get the important bits – what their talks are about – first, and for them to focus on that part. But I should have taken into account the following: keeping them on exactly the same spot to film the nodding so the backgrounds don’t change and they don’t appear too big or too small when they switch from talking to nodding or vice versa. I had to do yet more tinkering.
  • I should ave recorded longer nodding parts. I didn’t take into account that the first and last speaker would have to nod one way for twice as long (to cover two other people talking). This meant I had to stitch two identical nodding clips together to make it longer and this isn’t seamless.
  • I should have recorded them, appearing to stand in a row, so the background fit like a jigsaw in the background. As it stands the backgrounds don’t match up.
  • I should have had them standing the same distance away from the camera for consistency.
  • Their summary’s are way too long. While each section is only around 45 seconds long, this is a bit too long when the three talks are added up and more importantly nodding for 45 seconds looks a tad odd – I found myself looking at the nodding scientists rather than focusing on the one who was talking, which is a bit distracting.

Trying is learning

This isn’t the perfect video but I learned plenty, not least that there are some cool apps out there that help you think more creatively about how video content is promoted on social media. I spent 30 minutes filming and taking photos and around two hours tinkering with video – editing, loading it into the app, adjusting and then re-editing bits, all done on the iPhone 6S.

But my tinkering didn’t stop there. I also tried the ThingLink app which allows you to create interactive photos. Using this app I added value to a fun photo by using three video pop-ups for each of the scientists and an info button to explain who they are. I love this. So simple but in a few easy steps you have something people can immerse themselves in – and who can resist a play button, right?


What I should have done is filmed the scientists to fill the frame, in the individual videos which would have worked better in the pop-ups, they’re a little far away.

But the good news is that Jennifer D Begg of TeamTwoBees flagged up this video as a good example of how to use ThingLink in her digital content Learning Hive on Facebook.

Screen grab

In summary, plenty of lessons learned! Not least that tinkering with this stuff, even if it looks awful and will never see the light of day, is the only way to learn new skills.

With some of these tools and tricks in my mind, it will help me visualise the next story I work on.

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