Cloudy Video

I successfully created a video using all cloud tools. Recently we held the Williamsville District Art Show at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, and I took numerous pictures and videos of the event with my  phone. I am used to downloading photos and editing in either iMovie or MovieMaker, both of which do a nice job. With the new Chromebook, I wondered if it were possible to move, manage and create video without having to be tied to a particular device. The answer was indeed yes.

Here were the steps:

Uploading: Using the Google Drive app on my iPhone, I uploaded all of the original media to Drive.

Editing: WeVideo is a Chrome app available for free, and uses a freemium pricing structure. The free version allows for 5 videos, 5 minutes of video export per month, and a short post-roll branding at the end of exported videos. Paid versions provide additional files, export time, and non-branding. You can grant WeVideo access to Drive, and once connected, media files can be imported directly for editing.

Exporting/posting: WeVideo exports in .mp4 format to Drive (and other web locations). On a Chromebook, when choosing to upload files, the file browser treats Drive as the local directory! This was the aha moment for me. Typically when uploading media to a server, the upload feature triggers a file browser for the local device. In the case of a Chromebook, the “local device” is Drive, so I could directly transfer the completed video file from Drive to the web server. Very slick!

I was very impressed with WeVideo on my first outing. The editing tools were comparable to typical movie editing software. I was able to create transitions, titles, etc. with relative ease, though it always takes a little while to learn how these tools are implemented. As a movie editing software user already, I chose the timeline mode to work in. For those not familiar with editing, there is a storyboard mode for beginners.

As I mentioned previously, the main thing for me was actually how the Chromebook treats browsing the local directory on a device – the local directory is the cloud, and not the device (though you can still browse to the download directory which resides on the Chromebook). This has implications across workflow, not just for video. The very nice thing regarding video, though, is that there is significantly less copying/managing when all the media lives in the cloud.

This was just a first pass, but so far, I’m really enjoying cloudy video!

PS If you would like to see the final product of this experiment, click below. If the file is not playing, click here to go to the page the video is posted on.


A Refreshing Look at a Hot Topic

We have certainly heard a lot about the H1N1 virus and what we should do to help prevent its spread. When I first read the email from BrainPOP that they had resources about H1N1 (swine flu), my first reaction was, “Oh, great, even Tim & Moby are talking about it.”

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised about the swine flu video for 2 reasons – first that it is directed at students, not adults (as all BrainPOP videos are), and secondly, the treatment of the vocabulary in the video is excellent. Any key vocabulary term used in the video is displayed clearly as the conversation ensues. The video displayed while the vocabulary is on the screen gives visual cues to what the term means. This provides reinforcement for the key points, and develops vocabulary skills.

I think the video is a good conversation starter or reinforcement to help kids express their questions and/or opinions about the H1N1 virus. Check it out:

You can also check out the BrainPOP section on Swine Flu or BrainPOP Jr. video on Hand Washing.


Hello Crew!

Hello video announcements crew! I just finished a workshop at Amherst Middle with Mr. Z. on using Visual Communicator. Click on the video below to see some of what I learned.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Let me know what you think, and see you in August!

Conferences Video

Bravo, Ladies!

Three students from Heim recently won the Generation YES Go Green video contest. In the contest, students were directed to produce a video about how our school is Green and/or how it could be better at it. In the GenYES spirit, all aspects had to be student-driven. I can tell you without a doubt it was, and doing so proves how much our students can do given the right resources.

Once Caroline was approached about this contest by Mrs. Merlino, she immediately enlisted Mary and Kelly to join in. The only time I heard from them is when they needed a resource, or some guidance in how to do something. They did it all, and a fine job they did.

See the winning video at the Generation YES site here, along with the other talented student winners from California. Their videos will be featured at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio June 29-July 2. Bravo, Ladies!

Learning Video

Performing Knowledge

We recently completed a video project with one of our social studies teachers. This 7th grade project involved students picking one topic from the curriculum, and interpreting it with video in some form. We showed the students some samples from TeacherTube, including some done locally in a Buffalo high school. We then set them loose with teams, storyboards, equipment, and guidance.

What I love about video projects is that since the focus is on performing knowledge, rather than just repeating knowledge, you get a better picture of what the students really know. While this can be either rewarding or scary, it still gets to the deeper understandings they have.

Quite a few different classes have created video projects this year, with some exciting results. I’m looking forward to many more next year!


Image citation:

18th-Century Engraving of Commedia Dell’arte Actors on Stage. Corbis. 2006.
unitedstreaming. 29 May 2008

Content Area Focus Video

Video Poems

We just finished a video poem project with Mrs. Calandra’s classes. The idea came from a Creative Educator article I have on my digital storytelling page. The twist we added was to have the students put imagery to their own original poetry. I have to say I was very excited by the level of work everyone did. I hope to be able to post some of the student work here in the near future (working on the logistics/legal stuff regarding that now…)

In the mean time, the students motivated me to create my own piece. I chose to write a reflective poem about one of my favorite books that I just re-read, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I also wrote a little refelction on my Shelfari page about the book.

Thanks to the students in Mrs. Calandra’s class for motivating me on this – I hope you like it. (click below to play)

Get the Flash Player to see this content.


Dodging, swooping, yelling, screaming;
Why don’t you stay away?
Useless, crass, dirty, rude;
Please GO AWAY.

I did not see you since you were off on your
When you soared by I thought you were
one of the bunch.

How is it possible we want the same things?
What makes us so much the same although we are
vastly different?

PLEASE let me
fly with you.


Sweet Camcorder

I was at a friend’s house over the weekend for a suprise party. They have a brand new HD camcorder that I noticed on the counter. You know how sometimes you see something, pick it up, and get that OH WOW feeling? Well that’s just what I got with this baby…it’s a JVC Everio GZ-HD3, 60 GB hard drive, HD camcorder.


There are a number of wow things on it, and I do not know how JVC HD camcorders stack up to the competition, but I can tell you that picking this up and using it was awesome. Among the things in this $700 (via Amazon) package is a 3CCD lens, HD recording, HDMI connector, external mic input, and lots more. In terms of connections to other devices – take a look:


It is amazing to see what a (comparatively) small amount of money will buy in camcorders these days. We paid the same, or more, for cameras just a few years ago that do not hold a candle to what this has on board.

The HD movement in video, and digital broadcasting of all TV by next year, has lots of implications for how we move forward in schools. We have no equipment that truly supports the new video standards. A camcorder such as this JVC model would be the tip of a huge iceberg in terms of the type of equipment we would need to realize its potential. While we begin to think about that, I’ll have my nose pressed up against the store window drooling at this delightful piece of technology!

Image citation:
“Everio GZ-HD3.” JVC Video Camcorder Site. JVC Corp. 8 Mar. 2008 <>. Path: Everio High Definition; GZ-HD3.

People Russo's Ramblings Video

Farewell Mr. Kramer

This video was created in January of 2008, but not posted to this site until March of 2015. This is one of my creations, a tribute to the principal of Heim Middle School who was retiring. The video represents so much of what I enjoy about video, and the power it has to tell stories.

When tasked with a project like this, there is only so much time and resources available. I find that video comes together much more easily with some sort of story or angle. In this case it was the walk-through. Mr. Kramer could always be found walking the halls, checking on what was going on in the building. Using that framework, the idea for “walking” the building, capturing interviews and stills, came to life. Many of the clips that made the final cut were off-the-cuff interviews by those involved.

Editing this piece became a lot of fun. The secret sauce that brings it all together is the music, not surprisingly. It is amazing how music that sets the right mood really helps video transcend into another level.

The entire clip is about 11 minutes. There are some very funny spots, and some emotional ones. Every time I watch it I think about how some transitions could be different, or some edits could have made for smoother flow. But, every time I watch it, I think the story really is powerful. Especially the closing couple of minutes beginning with the tribute on the scrolling digital sign.

Chuck Kramer did great things at Heim Middle – here is a brief tribute to his time there – I hope you enjoy it. Click the link below to be taken to the video.

Farewell Mr. Kramer



Reflecting on our French Video Project

Now that you have finished your French video project on shopping, take a few mintues to reflect and respond to the following questions.

  • Did your French speaking get significantly better by doing this project? Was it easier or harder than if we just did a speaking piece in class?
  • Was there more value doing this project as a movie than doing it as a skit in the classroom?

Your honest feedback is just fine (meaning you won’t hurt our feelings). Please use complete sentences and thoughts – no chat language, please!


Reflecting on Our Digital Storytelling Project

Now that we have finished the personal narrative piece in ELA incorporating digital storytelling, please take a few minutes to answer the following questions.

  1. Do you think your writing improved as a result of this project? Give at least two reasons why or why not.
  2. How was this project different than if we simply wrote a personal narrative?
  3. Would you want to do something like this again?