Hi Tim and friends, Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast podcast here, hosted over at podfeet.com.
If you’ve checked out my show before, you may have figured out that I actually script all of my show up till Chit Chat Across the Pond with Bart Buscchots. I do this for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I go through a lot of technical bits that I think up early in the week and have to reproduce brilliantly way out on Sunday night.
Since I do use a script, I might be the perfect person to test out Videocue 2 from Flip4Mac.com. Videocue was originally developed by Telestra, and they were bought by Flip4Mac. Varasoft is the great company who brought us Screenflow for making video screencasts. This has all the promise of being an application I’ll like.
Videocue 2 is a tool that allows you to create videos while reading a script. That’s an oversimplification that probably would give the developers a stroke because it does so much more than that. You can lay in timed titles, cool graphics, photos, slides, all in an interface that is very unique. You can even let Videocue 2 add the script as subtitles for the hearing impaired automatically! How cool is that?
Let me back up a bit and explain it from scratch. The first great thing about Videocue 2 is that they offer you a tutorial right off the bat. Great for someone like me who won’t go looking for one but will just poke around a bit and say, “I don’t get it!” I let it show me the tutorial, which was web-based and really easy to follow. They had lots of great screenshots with just enough detail to help you understand, and they have a test file already in Videocue 2 so you can follow along as they explain how do to things. Because the interface is so unique, I think the tutorial is critical to understanding how this tool works.
Picture this, in the upper left corner you’ve got the video screen which previews what you’ll see in the completed video. Videocue automatically turns on your iSight camera, and can also work with any other video camera you have hooked up to your Mac. The main body of the window on the right is your scrolling teleprompter with nice huge fonts so you can lean back and relax. That is until you realize that it makes you look like you have 3 chins in the video. Sit up like your mother told you to!
The bottom left corner holds a media bin – you can import any graphics you like here, so I tested pulling in my NosillaCast logo to insert it in my video and it worked perfectly. They have some canned images to choose from to get you started too. that same bottom corner has a tab that let you also create beautiful title slides. They have some fabulous designs for you to work with.
Now I’ll try to explain the most unique feature that is oddly intuitive once you realize how it works. To the right of the teleprompter is a three column tall blue area called the Storyboard. This is where you drag and drop slides, images, and titles. You drag these elements up and down to correspond to where in the teleprompter text you want the image to go. Let’s say for example I was doing a video about Videocue and I wanted to show an image right now of the Mac ReviewCast logo, I would drag that image right next to these words and you’d see my video superimposed above the image.
Videocue 2 allows you to add creative transitions between slides and video, like swinging door, page curl, swipe, blur fade, and whole bunch more – even the normal ones like a smooth blend.
Because of the way they designed the layout of Videocue 2, when you’re reading the teleprompter, your eyes are drawn to the top center of your screen, which is perfect to make it look as though you’re looking intensely right into the iSight camera. That’s always a problem in doing video to be able to read, AND look at the camera!
There are a couple of little things I’d change in Videocue if I had a direct line to the developers. As I mentioned, there are three columns in the storyboard. One is for the foreground, one is for the title, and one is called the normal layer. I would really like to see some indication visually to show me which column is which! The only way to tell is to shut a layer off and try to figure out what element you put on there has disappeared. I’m sure once I get used to it there’s probably a logic to it – like the stuff that’s on the bottom is on the left and the stuff that overlays on top like titles would be on the right but it would be nice to have that indicated.
Another very minor niggle is that if you choose a title slide, and enter your title information and decide later to switch the design of the title, you have to re-enter the text of the title. Like I said, no big deal, but you know I can’t let a product get a 100% good review, now can I?
Finally a tiny bit more annoying feature is that whenever you have Videocue Pro running, it turns on your camera. My poor old MacBook Pro gets rather hot and bothered when the camera is turned on, so the whole time I was working on the text for this review, my laptop was getting hotter and hotter. It would be nice to be able to tell it to just chill for a bit! I also didn’t like staring at my own face the whole time either.
Let’s get back to the fun parts. Once you’ve laid in your storyboard and entered your text in the teleprompter, you can rehearse your masterpiece. If the teleprompter is going to fast, a simple down arrow click and slows down, with the up arrow to speed up. Now that you’ve perfected the timing of the images and titles, and you’ve rehearsed the text, you’re ready to record.
When you’re done recording you’ll have a well chosen set of output formats. They’ve got small/medium/large web output to mpeg-4 video, for Podcast, and for iPod video amongst others. If you know what a PGPP-enabled phone is, they have an output for that too! The option to make it a podcast creates an audio-only quicktime movie. I’m not sure why you’d need such a highly capable tool just to do audio, but the scrolling teleprompter is really useful. I wish it would create both an mp3 and a video out of the same recording, so you don’t have to record twice to make both formats. For this show I’ve created the mp3 in the show you’re hearing right now, but I also created a video demostrating all of this with the same script for Tim to put on Macreviewcast.com.
I had a lot of fun with Videocue 2, and I think it delivers more than it’s promise. Videocue 2 is $89US and you can get it from Flip4Mac.com.