Hardware/Software For Gathering and “Mobile-izing” Existing Audio/Video (A/V) Materials
Often times there are good A/V outreach materials available for use among a people you work with but getting those materials into an appropriate format for sharing via your mobile phone requires some amount of technology and knowledge. You may need special tools to access and alter existing audio/video media in order to be able to use it in mobile media outreach including tools that allow for:
1. Converting materials from analog to digital format
In order for you to get A/V media onto your phone it must first be in a digital format, rather than tape format
Converting Cassette Tapes- You need some hardware to do this (at a minimum a tape player and a cable with two-male ends in order to connect your tape player’s earphone jack to your computer’s microphone in-jack. An MP3 player with audio recording function or a specialized digital audio recorder may be even better. You can use the Windows Sound Recorder program (which comes pre-installed in Windows PCs) to record the audio to a file or try Audacity, a freeware download with more capabilities for editing audio.
Converting VHS Videos- Here is where having a miniDV tape-based digital video recorder with A/V “in” ports can help. If you can play your VHS tape on a VHS machine that has its video out cables attached to the video in ports on your video recorder, you can record the video into digital format as it plays. You can do the same with a computer if it has a Firewire (IEEE 1394) port, a cord to attach your video player and the Firewire port, and specialized software. I don’t know which software to recommend for this.
A relatively cheap alternative which I have yet to try but which seems to get decent ratings at Amazon would be to use a device like the Hauppauge 610 USB-Live 2 Analog Video Digitizer and Video Capture Device ($44) or Elgato Video Capture Device 10020840 ($75) to connect your computer and a VHS player and and digitize the VHS tapes.
2. Downloading videos from the internet
You may find some videos on the internet that you would like to use for your outreach but not know how to download them (sites like www.youtube.com make it difficult). An excellent freeware program that allows you to download and save web videos as they load and play is Freecorder. Other free programs include Miro, Real RealPlayer, Orbit Downloader, and DownThemAll (an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox browser). Another alternative that works for many, but not all, videos is copying the website URL address for the video and then pasting it in such websites as http://clipconverter.cc or http://keepvid.com/ which will then convert the video in the digital format of your choice which you can then save on your computer hard drive.
3. Editing Videos
You need software that will allow you to accomplish various editing tasks on your videos. You will want to check and make sure the software works with the various file types your initial video will be available in. Some of the file formats that the program should work with include .avi, .mp4, .mov, .flv (from video sharing websites), .dat (from VCDs), and .vob (from DVDs).
Specific video editing functions the editing program will need to be able to perform include:
Cutting out short clips from longer videos. Often times you will find yourself needing to clip out shorter sections of a longer video.
Combining two or more segments of video (whether combining clips you have cut out from the same video or putting clips from different videos together). Please do not worry about what kind of transition effects are available in your editing software. Using inappropriate transitions is much worse than not using any transition effects at all. If you really feel you must use a transition effect when combining segments only use “cross fade” and only use it when the story is changing location or you want to show that a period of time has passed.
Adding text to a video. Providing a follow-on step/connection to allow those listening to/viewing mobile ministry media is key if you want the materials to move from being a dead end to being a door-opener to their interaction with God’s Word and people. Adding text to a video sharing a website, SMS contact number, radio station, etc. is one way to provide such a follow-on step.
Adjusting audio levels (you oftentimes need to increase the volume for playback on mobile phones- this may be able to be done with a file formatting program at a later stage in the process).
Free Video Editing Software
You can use video editing software that you already own or which came pre-loaded on your computer (Windows Movie Maker on PCs running Windows XP/Vista or iMovie on Macs). For those using Windows 7 computers you can download Windows Live Movie Maker which is built for that system but has been described as “woefully lacking in features”. Some recommend combining the Windows Live Movie Maker with Windows Movie Maker 2.6 which apparently works fine on Windows 7 (it was intended for Vista computers) and has more powerful video editing features. One other editing program you can download from the web is Avidemux. A list of other free and open source video editing programs can be found at Wikipedia.
Video editing programs which can only be used online and are free include YouTube Video Editor and the extremely powerful Lightworks (be aware that Lightworks is quite complicated and has a significant learning curve). A list of other online video editing programs can be found here.
Low Cost Video Editing Software
I am currently using Roxio Creator 2010. Although Roxio Creator seems to get consistently bad reviews I have found that it 1) Accepts most formats of video I want to work with, 2) Has an easy work flow, and 3) Has a lot of helpful settings for outputting to low end and high end mobile phones. It also has a ringtone creation function :) .. I settled on Roxio Creator after trying it, CyberLink PowerDirector 9, Corel VideoStudio Pro X3. I previously used Videopad but ran into two issues that Videopad does not fully resolve. First, if the video is in a .dat file (as is the case for many VCDs) Videopad will initially convert the video into another file format but that conversion process un-syncs the audio and video tracks. VideoPad does give you the capability to manually re-sync the tracks but this adds an unhelpful level of complexity to the project. Second, I have yet to find a program that allows me to segment and edit a DVD that contains multiple language tracks. I have been recommended to try the Pegasys TMPGEnc MPEG Editor 3 ($65 USD) by a ministry that says it will work on multi-language DVDs but have not yet tried it. Additionally, at a recent missions media conference, a number of individuals suggested using Apple QuickTime 7 Pro ($30 USD, For Mac, For Windows) but I do see that it has very poor reviews and I am not sure if they were Windows or Mac users so take that recommendation with a large grain of salt (I have since had people tell me it is a horrible choice).
Smartphone Video Editing
Some video editing can now be done on smartphones and tablets. VideoMaker Magazine has a guide to potential apps and Cloud based video editing programs here. The two iOS (iPhone/iPod/iPad) video editing apps that come most highly recommended are Filmic Pro ($4 USD) and 1st Video Video Editor ($10 USD). ProCamera ($3 USD) and Camera Awesome (free) are recommended for shooting pictures and videos on iOS devices.
4. "Mobilizing" Videos
Once you have edited out the video you need to convert it into a format that can be played on mobile phones. The two of the main video formats that mobile phones play are 3GP and MP4. I have had success in using the Freecorder program (listed in #2 above) to convert .flv and .vob files to MP4 and 3GP as well as to convert MP4 files to 3GP (using it with other formats will also likely prove successful).
The program that is a consistent top pick for converting the file format and even tailoring the video for optimal viewing on particular mobile phones or for particular screen sizes is Format Factory. Top notch features of this free program include a library of mobile phone models you can choose from, the ability to adjust audio volume and the ability to convert multiple files at one time make this my go to program for "mobilizing" videos. Other programs with a strong reputation include Mobile Media Converter, HandBrake and Super.
5. Transfering media from the computer to a mobile phone
There are many possible ways to transfer media from your computer to a mobile phone
i) If your mobile phone has a memory card (miniSD, microSD, etc.) you can use a USB microSD card reader (such as the Sandisk MobileMate Micro SD & M2 Reader- $4 at Amazon) or a multi-card reader (such as the IOGear SD/MicroSD/MMC Card Reader/Writer - $5) to upload materials from your computer onto the memory card. I purchased a simple multi-card reader where I lived in SW Asia for $3 and it has served me well.
In sending out materials to different teams I've been using the Kingston 4GB Multi Kit/Mobility Kit ($8 USD) which allows me to give the team a 4GB microSD card with the outreach materials as well as a SD card and USB microSD card adapter that can be used for getting media between their computers and their phones' microSD memory cards via either a USB port or SD card reader on their computer. Note that some older model feature phones cannot take memory cards larger than 2GB.
In getting materials onto a Nexus 7 tablet computer or off of it for use on another device, using a micro USB OTG adapter ($10), USB flash drive (or microSD card USB adapter as above) with the ES File Explorer and Nexus Media Importer app ($3) can allow for rapid upload/download of materials without requiring any form of internet/Bluetooth/WiFi connectivity.
ii) If your computer has Bluetooth you can send files by Bluetooth from the computer to your mobile phone. You could also purchase a USB Bluetooth “dongle” (such as the Kinivo BTD-400 Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter - $15 at Amazon) to allow for this.
iii) If your phone has a mini-USB port you can use the included USB cord (or purchase an aftermarket one if it wasn’t included) and transfer files via the USB connection.
iv) If you have a WiFi-enabled hard drive (Maxell Airstash, Kingston WiDrive, Seagate GoFlex Satellite) you can load the materials onto that, create a wireless connection between the device and your phone/tablet, and following the instructions for your particular device, locate and download the files over the wireless connection.
v) If you have a smartphone or table tcomputer you can use an app for a file sharing service like Box or Dropbox to upload files from your computer and then download them to your phone.
Hardware/Software For Creating New Mobile Media Ministry Audio/Video Materials
Perhaps you’ve got a great cultural insight into sharing the Gospel among the people you’ve been called to but you’ve always wished there was a way you could get it out to a wider audience. Praise the Lord that you don’t need a Hollywood budget nor Steven Spielberg credentials for creating new media that can dramatize and spread that Gospel presentation. Here’s some tools that can help in putting together simple mobile phone outreach media
1. Creating New Mobile Phone Audio Recordings
Good audio is crucial. Lower quality video is more easily "forgiven" than low quality audio. Depending on how high a quality result you want you can go anywhere from using the microphone on your mobile phone or computer on up to renting out a professional sound recording studio to produce new audio recordings.
I recommend using an external microphone when audio recording using a computer or cassette recorder/player. Potential models to consider include the lower-end Nady SP-4C ($17), mid-range Azden ECZ-990 ($68) full size mic or Sony ECM-DS70P ($56) table top mic. For recording audio during video interviews or with actors a lapel microphone like the Audio Technica ATR 3350 ($17 USD), Audio Technica ATR-35S ($30 USD) or a more advanced wireless set like the ATR-288W ($130 USD) will prove invaluable. If you prefer to stay mobile and use your phone as your recording device think about at least using something like the iRig MIC micro-sized microphone that fits into phones' audio jack port.
While a $50 digital recorder such as the Sony Digital Flash Recorder or Olympus VN-702PC Voice Recorder may work you will get much better results from something like the Zoom H1. The Zoom H1 is highly recommended by amateur video producers and can be found for approximately $90. I can personally recommend purchasing the Zoom H1 with accessory kit ($98 USD) along with the WindTech MM 52 Mic Muff ($25 USD, used to reduce wind noise). Another good option just over the $100 price level is the Tascam DR-07 MkII ($120).
Two devices that may help with handheld audio recorders are the Vivitar SteadyPod ($6) which allows for easier one-handed audio-recording, can function as a table-top tripod and allows you to use the Noob Shock Mount Adapter ($10) which reduces noises created when holding an audio-recorder.
If you really need very high quality recordings and extra features like XLR connectors, recommended high-end digital audio recorders include the Tascam DR-40 ($158, make sure to update the firmware following this video tutorial) and the acclaimed Zoom H4N ($299).
One big recommendation would be to ALWAYS use headphones when recording as you will then be able to hear what is being recorded (like the scratching sound made by your subject rubbing their hands on their jeans, papers shuffling, etc.) and thereby avoid nasty surprises. One low price recommendation would be the Behringer HPM1000 headphones for only $12 shipped (note that the jack fits into both large size stereo ports and, upon screwing off the larger adapter, fits the more common 3.5 mm port after screwing off the adapter)! Other recommended headphones include the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S ($30 USD), Audio Technica ATH-M35 ($50 USD, good quality and fold up nicely), Senal SMH-1000 ($90 USD, high quality and fold up small) and Sony MDR-7506 headphones ($90 USD). If you really need to pack light and small or need to be extra discrete the Sennheiser CX200 Street II ($20) in-ear headphones come well recommended.
All aspects of audio editing can be handled using the Audacity freeware program. At the same time, syncing separate audio and video files or multiple cameras' audio tracks together can be quite time consuming and those who can afford it might want to consider Plural Eyes 3 ($200 or $100 for students).
For those wishing to use their iPhone for audio-recording and editing the Hindenburg Field Recorder app ($30 USD) is recommended. Four other tools that can improve iPhone audio recording are the Sescom iAdapt iPhone / iPod / iPad TRRS Plug to TRRS Jack Adapter Cable (1') ($22) which allows you to use standard microphones with your iPhone, the Vericorder XLR Adapter with Pre-Amplifier ($60) which allows the use of high end XLR microphones with your iPhone, the Fostex AR-4i ($96) which provides higher grade microphones for the iPhone and the iPhone Lapel Mic ($100).
2. Creating Video Out of Still Pictures/PowerPoint Type Slides
One of the easiest options for creating mobile phone video is by combining audio with pictures or PowerPoint type slides. Two options can help you to create videos out of still pictures/slides. The first is a using a standalone program meant to make videos out of pictures. A powerful freeware program that allows you to create slideshow videos that include audio and pans and zooms within pictures is Magix Slideshow Creator. Another popular freeware programs that does that is Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery 2010 (formerly Photo Story 3) which provides everything you need to create excellent video from pictures.
A second option is to use a slide presentation program such as Microsoft PowerPoint (a free alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint called “Impress” can be downloaded as part of the Open Office Suite). If you have Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 or above you can use its inbuilt video converter to create videos out of your slideshows. If you have a prior version of PowerPoint you will need to use a PowerPoint to video converter like Leawo's Free PowerPoint to Video (to get free version scroll partway down the page and use download button under program on right). Note that both Leawo and Microsoft's products convert the PowerPoint files into WMV files which will need to be then converted into MP4 or 3GP files for play on mobile phones.
Occassionally you will want to adjust/enhance your photos/images using photo editing software. A freeware program that has high level capabilities similar to those found in Adobe Photo Shop is GIMP.
3. Creating New Video Footage
This way of creating new media requires the greatest amount investment both financially as well as in skill development (see other Mobile Advance How-To's about video production). You will need a video recorder (you can always just use the video recorder on your phone!) as well as the same video editing equipment listed in the beginning section of this paper.
Some sub-$500 recommended video recorders you could consider (in order of ascending price):
The video enabled pocket point and shoot or mobile phone you already own! (FREE)
Kodak PlayTouch ($77) *not the best reviews for video quality but has an external microphone in port which is not found until $138 elsewhere and using an external microphone can be HUGE for improving your video quality
Samsung W200 ($120) *waterproof
Sony HDR-AS10 ($138) * nice in that it has an external microphone-in port, for $30 more you can get the HDR-AS15 which has WiFi and a smartphone app
Panasonic ZS20 ($220) (my pick at the $2-300 price point)
Canon Powershot 260HS ($265 USD)
Zoom Q3HD ($295) *Excellent onboard microphone as well as a microphone-in port
Sony HDR-MV1 ($298) *Being released December, 2013, looks like it might be good for low light and high quality audio recording
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 ($320) (my pick at the $3-400 price point)
Nokia N8 ($340) *Best quality video possible from a sub-$500 smartphone
GoPro Hero 3+ ($400) Action camera that can be used in conjunction with smartphone app, well regarded by pros but not the best "all-around" type camera
Sony HDR-CX260V ($435)
Canon Vixia HF M500 ($495)
While getting acceptable output to show on a three inch screen requires far less resources than producing for the large screen you may still find yourself wanting a tripod and external lighting source to ensure steady well lit shots:
Camera Mount Possibilities:
TCPH: iPhone/HTC/Samsung/Motorola Andriod Smartphone to Camera Tripod Adapter ($4 USD)
Joby GripTight Micro Stand ($17) Super super tiny and handy!
Joby Gorillapod Video ($20) Small- only works with small point and shoot type cameras and phones with tripod adapters
Promaster FW20T ($70) Very light and extends to 4.5', not stable enough to use for anything larger than a compact point and shoot camera. No panning/tilting while filming
Vanguard Alta+ 204AP Tripod with Pan Head ($110)
MeFOTO Roadtrip Tripod with Ball Head ($189, great for backpack/travel use and can detach one leg for use as monopod)
Sirui T-1005X tripod ($117) with Manfrotto 701HDV Fluid Head ($125)
ikan iLED120 ($130 USD)
Fotodiox Pro LED 312AS ($160)
For those of you who have an iPhone and want to use it for taking video a useful add-on is the Alm mCAMLITE which offers enhanced stabilization, a microphone, and an extra lens.
Hardware/Software for Sharing & Distributing Audio/Video Mobile Ministry Media
1) Sharing audio/video materials
While screen size is important, often the most difficult part about sharing materials via a phone is that the "audience" has difficulty hearing what is happening. If this is an issue that you find yourself facing regularly you have two potential solutions. First, you can bring a pair of headphones which allows the individual to hear the materials more clearly while also providing some amount of privacy. Second, you could bring a small battery powered speaker with you which could be either be plugged into the headphone out port or, if capable, paired to your phone by Bluetooth, and then have the audio ported to it via Bluetooth. We conducted a fairly comprehensive review of sub-$100 portable speakers (14 different units) in September, 2013 and the results of that can be found here.
If you foresee regularly being in situations where you may have groups between the size of six to twelve people gathered around to see your media you may want to consider investing in a larger screen device. While we were on the field we were able to have a portable DVD player to share video with but were always concerned about the possibility of dust/sand getting into the player and gunking up the works. Today, it is possible to get a very good 7" screen tablet computer that can play audio and video, bring up Bible verses, etc. for $200 (Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD). If you consider that you can have one viewer for every 1" of screen size you can effectively share that screen with up to 7-8 people. If you expect larger groups there are larger 10" tablets like the original iPad, etc. that can be used for groups of up to 12 people.
2) Distributing audio/video materials via Bluetooth or WiFi "Nearcasting"
While your phone is a perfect tool for one-to-one distribution of files via Bluetooth phone-to-phone transmission and possibly even via more recent technologies such as WiFi Direct or Near Field Communications (NFC) the phone is not idea for situations where you either need to be a bit more discrete or provide the materials to a greater number of devices. In those situations you can either use a Bluetooth broadcasting device (with the added advantage of greater "reach" as many more phones have Bluetooth than WiFi) or a WiFi drive that others with WiFi enabled devices can connect to and download from remotely (i.e. up to 25 meters away). BlueOne, a Chinese company, is one of the main suppliers of Bluetooth broadcasting devices and a couple ministries have tried their U28 device ($238, need to carry in backpack) and I am interested to see how their P14 ($278) and R14 ($278) (potentially pocketable) perform.
For WiFi hotspot "nearcasting" you can try the pocketable AirStash 8GB A02 ($112) or the backpack-portable Seagate GoFlex Satellite ($180). The pocket-sized Kingston WiDrive also works but cannot support as many device connections at one time as the AirStash.