Notes of a reluctant video teacher

Question mark superimposed on file iconsAs you’ve doubtless notice if you follow this blog or my Twitter feed, I’ve made two video courses and put them up on You may be wondering why I’m doing this, especially if you know how much I hate being on camera.

Several steps have led to my being here. One is that the more gray hair you have, the more likely clients and employers are to assume the gray matter has leaked out of your brain, even though that’s nonsense. So I have to find other sources of income. I’ve been doing writing, including the book Files that Last, and having some successes there. Many people, though, like video learning, and turning written material into video presentation isn’t a huge step. I liked the arrangements Udemy offered, so I’ve given it a try.

It’s not as if I haven’t been up in front of people before. I can sing for an audience, and I’ve been captured on video. I’ve done several videos for crowdfunding efforts. While I seriously dislike being on anything like a news camera without preparation, if I’m in control of the situation and know the role I’m playing I can do it. I won’t claim to be expert at it, and you don’t want to see all the failed takes behind the videos. Still, I think I’ve put together a couple of reasonable courses.

The material is solid. I don’t think there’s a question of my not knowing the stuff. The presentation has taken work. In the first course, on file format identification tools, I did all the lectures sitting down and relying more than I should have on a whiteboard which was just under the camera. I hoped that being seated would give the feeling of conversing with the audience. I includes some of my own keyboard playing, using the opening of Schubert’s wonderful G-flat major Impromptu as personal theme music.

In the second course, on personal digital preservation, I applied what I’d learned from the first one. This time I stood up and wore a selection of T-shirts. I talked to the camera without reading off the whiteboard, though it stayed under the camera in case I needed it.

Now I’m working on a third course, on ExifTool. I have strong hopes for this one. It’ll cover the software in vastly more detail than the format identification tools course did. ExifTool is used a lot and has a lot of features, so there should be a demand for it. I’m continuing to improve my presentation skills. As I’m writing this, I’ve wrapped up the “Basics” section, which gets into some impressive features by itself, and getting ready to start the “Advanced” section, where I’ll get into features such as configuration (which requires Perl code), conditional processing, and moving metadata between files.

Meanwhile, I’ve been putting up videos on YouTube, partly as teasers for the work that brings in money and partly as practice.

This is a tech blog, so I should talk about the tech I’m using. My camera is a Canon Elph 520HS. When I’m standing in front of the camera, I simultaneously capture the audio with a Zoom H2, recording in WAV format. Then I use Audacity to clean up the audio and convert it to MP3 and iMovie to put everything together. I’m seriously thinking of upgrading to Adobe Premiere Elements. iMovie is inconvenient for managing large numbers of videos.

Some of the lectures in each course are available as free previews. If you’d like to take a look at them just out of curiosity, please do. If you have suggestions for improvement, I may wince, but I’ll appreciate them anyway.

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