21ST CENTURY TAI CHI
Tools and Ideas for updating your practice
21ST CENTURY TAI CHI
Tools and Ideas for updating your practice
Tools for learning tai chi or teaching tai chi have changed considerably over the last decade. Once upon a time, you may have saved up for a incense burner and a set of Ninja socks, but these days you are more likely to invest in a decent camera, create a WhatsApp group and find yourself a decent cloud storage option to store your martial memories.
In part 1 of this series of articles I took you through the essential hardware you need to start recording your training, exercises, form performances and drills. I covered the reasons why this is a good habit to develop - both for teaching purposes and self-evaluation.
In Part 2 of this 3 part-series, I am going to introduce you to some simple editing tools, which will help convert something crude and possibly unintelligible to others, into a clear message that the whole world will understand and appreciate.
I’m also going to introduce you to both paid and free apps - so don't think you will necessarily have to put your hand in your pocket to achieve these aims.
Are You Working for Yourself or for Others?
If what you are producing is for your eyes only, then who cares if it is not well edited, or that your dog appears in more frames than you do?
Who cares if you cannot hear yourself speak? However, if it is going to be seen by others, to be consumed or studied, then you will need to learn some simple editing techniques.
So let's first look at the tools you will need to do. I’ll assume you have some footage of yourself already, and that you now need to cut out all the mistakes - those moments when the tripod fell over or your brother walked inadvertently into shot, whistling the theme to Kill Bill 2
iMovie: For anyone with an Apple device, this is the basic video editing program bundled free with your laptop, phone or tablet. It’s a fairly good video editor, despite its lack of updates, awful filters and titles. But, it does the job. Although I have used it extensively on the laptop, I won’t use it on a phone as the screen is too small to work with. But you may have a larger phone than mine or better eyesight. Both are highly probable. With iMovie, you can easily create a new "project" and drop into that videos or images, then add a voice over or again, import an audio file. It's all pretty self-evident how to do this. It gets interesting when you start playing with the software, by dropping one video file onto of another, creating the possible for transparency or picture-in-picture or green screen work.
In brief, Imovie is a fine starting program and can do the basics, and do them pretty well.
iMovie Good Points
iMovie Bad Points
VN Video Editor (free)
The VN editor is a free alternative to iMovie. It offers both mobile and desktop applications that are surprisingly sophisticated, easy to use and are - at the moment - free to use on all platforms, including mobile devices too. Title work is better than iMovie, but that's not saying much. And it lacks green screen use and some multi-layer blending modes. But, for anyone that doesn't want this, it is an alternative that shows lots of promise and one I intend to explore more fully in the near future.
Pick up a copy of VN Editor here
Another free tool for all platforms is the well known Davinci editor. Super sophisticated and an editor that can do everything, including boil the kettle for a cup of tea, but, it does require something of a learning curve. Once again, it is on my back burner. If you are going to learn one program from scratch, then take a look at this for it looks well worth the effort.
Pick up a copy of Davinci here.
Speaking to the Camera Ideas
If you are creating a course and have a lot of text to speak, or are nervous and want to make sure what you say makes sense, they prepare a script and use that with a teleprompter app. These programs allow you to add a text file that is scrolled down one side of your camera screen, so that as it records you, it also displays the text for you to read out.
Perhaps, like me, you are are not a born actor that can memorise lines. If not I’d suggest getting a teleprompter app. Some are better than others, enabling auto-generated subtitles and other additions. Most or crap and expensive, but I have not tried everyone, but one I have come to use is Professor Hornet, not just because I like the name but because it is reasonably priced, updated and does a lot.
They can be a little tricky to get used to, and you certainly need to be sitting pretty close to make use of them - but they are very handing when you have some detailed explaining to do and don't wish to mess it up.
My go to app is Professor Hornet Pro by Malatesta. Check out the link below.
ONLINE STORAGE AND SHARING
Once you have the finished video, you may of course want to simply email your final edit to a friend or student - but only then discover that the size of your video file is too large to send. Your email program is unlikely to send files much bigger than 10 or 20 mb. If this is you case, then you’ll need to either shrink the video down using an app like…Compress (IOS Version here), (Android version here). Alternatively you can use a free file-transfer solution to share with others such as Wetransfer.
This site enables you to share files of up to 2 gig free with anyone - but they only have 7 days to download your file before it disappears off Wetransfer servers.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION TO SHARING WITH YOUTUBE OR VIMEO
Alternatively you can set up a Youtube account or Vimeo account and host your videos there, saving them as private or unlisted. This way the general public don't get to see your work - only those you choose to share the link with.
Gifs - Yes those sometimes irritating looped snippets of video - are not just for social media sharing or shoving onto the end of a text message.
Gifs can be really useful for students that need to see a move, or part of a move repeatedly, and are fed up with having to pause, rewind, pause, rewind etc.
Is a free Gif creator for both desktops and mobiles.
For an alternative program, I like Gif Brewery (only for OSX) on a laptop as another free tool that enables me to save effects, for regular use.
If you are looking for a tool that will help organise your thoughts or layout for class structures then consider some of these options. Notion recently became free for all personal use and has both desktop and mobile applications.
Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis ...https://www.notion.so
Notion has recently become free for unlimited individual use, and although it may appear as just a blank canvas, don’t worry - that is it’s power too. Notion enables you to create what you want, how you want - documents, PDFS, web pages, data bases, spreadsheets and you get two publish online and share these with others.
A help file can be instantly converted into a web page to share or a instructional document.
Take a look at this basic sample page
Mobile Phones and Storage Platfroms
PHONE EDITING APPS
As I mentioned before, I try to avoid editing video on the phone due to limited screen size, and I have already mentioned VN that is available as a free editor.
Mobile Video Work. Another editor that has some special filming possibilities is Filmic.
Recommended by my friend and fellow instructor Jonas Bieri, this mobile (IOS only) suite of apps can not only give you a fine detail recording experience but enable you monitor your recording on a second device using another app. Why would you want to do this? Well, as Jonas pointed out to me, it enables you to use the back camera (often of higher resolution and with more camera lenses to work with, such as widescreen).
If anything, the best approach is probably to play with these apps you have and explore what you can do with them. Try to avoid taking on new ones, unless you are sure they will benefit you, otherwise you may be in for long learning curve.
Find out more about Filmic here.
Conclusion: Software skills for Training and Broadcasting
If, after reading all this you are wondering what any of it has to do with you as you don’t teach create video courses, then the answer is - not much... yet
For as our lives become increasingly digitalised, knowledge of how to edit footage, images, plan out strategies, courses or personal projects becomes an increasingly important work and life skill. All this content that we are producing on these new devices will eventually need organising and storing and perhaps, at some point, sharing or distributing.
These are the skills that we will need going forward, and the Sensei, the Sifu or the facilitator of the future will have to have these skills well honed if they wish to be able to communicate with their students on these new platforms.
PART 3 IN THE SERIES
Whatever your profession or field of work, you will need some basic skills in these areas. For that reason, in the final part of this series, now we have looked at hardware and software, I am going to take you through how best to get your final-cut out there and to be seen on the great big digital highway that is the internet.
It's the step up from posting on Youtube - a step forward that enables you to control the content, who has access to it and what they can do with it.
I’lll be investigating several different platforms and advising which is right for you to host your every increasing digital library of content.
All in part 3 of this series.
Got an question or want to know more about how this all plays out? Check out the Academy here for more complete examples of everything…..
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