How To: Create a Custom Callout in Camtasia

When the Camtasia Mac update came out a few years ago, I was intrigued by the new sketch motion callouts included in the media. Essentially, they’re little animations of circles, squares, squiggles, and arrows to spruce up my videos. They were cool, but I quickly wanted the ability to create my own custom callout for my videos.

Using some Camtasia trickery, you can create custom animations. I tried it and made a short proof of concept video to make sure it worked. Rather than typing the whole thing out, I made a short video (4:30) on the process I used. You can see it below or watch it on YouTube. After the video, I’ve got some other tips on how to manage the custom callouts you make.

If I were going to do this frequently, I would make a little library of callouts to import. You can’t add media to the library in Camtasia Mac (but you can in Camtasia Studio on Windows), but you can make your own library of callouts. Go through the process I outlined above and then export your callout as an mp4. Save it in a folder on your computer and then import the callouts when you need them in later projects. They’re so small, your videos won’t have a noticeable difference in file size.

It is a little convoluted, and will take some time, but after you get the process down, you should be on your way to making your own custom callouts. If you have one you want to share, put a link in the comments below.

How To: Use IFTTT to Crowdsource Conference Photos

A year ago, I discovered If This Then That (IFTTT), which might be one of the most innovated web services I’ve ever come across. Ever.

In short, it allows you to create simple programs that help manage things you do on the web. If you use the Internet a lot, you should use IFTTT. Like, today.

I started with some simple scripts to do things like auto-tweet new blog posts and tweet new YouTube uploads (a lot of stuff to do with tweeting, actually…).

As I played with it more, I got crazier ideas. For instance, I travel for work. If I drive my car, I can deduct the mileage from my taxes each spring. But, the IRS wants me to have proof of that mileage. Now, I could keep track of receipts, but that’s a little insane. I do have invoices, but I wanted one more level of tracking. Well, I created an IFTT recipe that will add my location (through Foursquare) to my Google Calendar when I use a certain tag with my check-in. You can grab it here.

Now, I’m trying to think of ways I can use it to share out what teachers and students are doing. For instance, I had an idea yesterday on ways to crowdsource photos from a conference. It takes some creative thinking around Gmail and a Flickr or Instagram account, but it can be done.

If you’re interested in using this recipe, you can grab it here, but there are instructions below.

  1. Set up a Gmail filter – There’s a good tutorial with a video here if you don’t know how to do this. The important thing is to make sure the filter is easy to manage in whatever account you’re using. A good way to manage it is to make the filter the name of the conference (or the Twitter hashtag you’re using).
  2. Make sure your attendees use that filter – IFTTT looks for that Gmail filter, so if the email isn’t grabbed by Gmail, their photo won’t make it to Flickr. I make sure they do this by making the subject line of the email the conference hashtag.
  3. Tagging on Flickr – The script is set to tag the photos with the name of the conference. This will help you manage those photos later if you want to add them to a set or group. I would keep that, but you can add more if you want to.
  4. Make sure people know about it! – Be sure to tell your attendees that all they have to do is email you a photo, and it will get posted automatically.

I’m looking for a way to get Twitter photo uploads to go to Flickr, but because you can’t use Twitter as an input anymore, that’s becoming a little more complicated. If you want people to use Instagram, you can create a similar recipe that looks for an Instagram tag and it will send those to Flickr for management later. I chose email because there are still a lot of people that aren’t on Twitter or Instagram, but use email. Seemed like a low barrier for entry.

Do you use IFTTT? What’s your favorite or most creative recipe? Share links in the comments!

Who is that guy?

My computer is getting pretty full of photos. I’ve been taking more, but it is also housing nearly every photo taken since my wedding in 2009. I know that is chump change to a lot of people, but it’s been bugging me.

I was going back through some of my kitchen remodel photos from earlier this spring and…well…I don’t know how I missed it, but some random guy is dancing in my back yard in one of them. I have no idea who it is. I also don’t know how the hell I missed it the first time through these photos.

Who the hell is that guy?

I haven’t finished going through my pictures, and I haven’t seen him since the tear out day back in May. But since seeing…whatever it is…I’m worried about walking past that window alone at night.

This assignment was tough because I needed to find a way to keep my image small (original is over 2400 x 3200, and over 2MB) and make sure Jim stayed outside. So, I converted my image to 64 bit and resized it to 650px tall (173KB final size, with all the layers). That dramatically changed the file size, which was awesome. To get Jim outside, I imported the modified GIF as frames (thanks Talky Tina) and then cropped, scaled, and positioned. I merged Jim with the background image.

To get the window frame, I used the lasso select to pull the glass part, being careful to cut around objects on the window sill to keep some depth perspective. Then, it was a matter of duplicating this cut window frame and merging it into each later of the project to sit on top of Jim.

I had tried to do this back during the summer #ds106zone sequence, but couldn’t figure it out or something. I don’t remember.

Don’t lose your head

Leading up to the headless ds106 planned for this fall, it’s an August GIF-a-thon. I managed to find some time tonight to get one finished and uploaded.

What you see below is a reconstruction of what really happened. We were able to get to the doctor in time to reduce the chance of major scarring. Today, you can barely even tell this occurred.

We reduced the scarring with quick action.

Don’t lose your head. It isn’t worth it.

The GIF is 11 frames long, which keeps its size pretty low. I also varied the length of each frame to give the illusion of the ball flying back at my face much faster than I threw it to Peter, because that’s what happened IRL. What a punk.