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Thoughts about transformational technologies; musings about momentous methodologies; awareness of awesome apps….

Going Green

Introduction

Green screens have been around for some time now.  In very simple terms, green screens provide a transparent background behind an object (such as a person); the final background image is then superimposed creating the illusion of the person actually being there. A classic example is weather reporting on TV.

The reason that bright green is used is that there are no green pigments in skin, so skin will always remain opaque when you film. However, if a person wore some green clothing, it would become transparent and let the background shine through- with interesting effects! 

As technology advances, it is becoming incredibly easy to harness the potential of green screen techniques in the classroom.

Equipment Needed

All that is needed for green screening is a green background- you can buy green cloths; you can paint a wall matte green; you can buy pop up frames; or in schools, you can use green backing paper! A mid green colour works best.

The more even the green background, the better the final result will be. If you use cloth, hang it a couple of hours before use to let the creases drop out and use some weights or clips to stretch the cloth. You could also mist the cloth lightly with a spray to help the creases fall out, although test on an inconspicuous part as water will darken the fabric.

Good lighting will dramatically enhance the final result too.  Photo studio lights with daylight bulbs will improve filming if it is in a dark room with yellow lights in the ceiling. If a classroom is naturally bright you should be fine.

Software

For iPad there are great green screen apps- my two favourites are:

Green Screen by DoInk

Veescope

Both are extremely easy to use, although they work in slightly different ways.

With Veescope you choose your background first; then film in front of the green screen.  Both the background and the subject are merged together at the same time. It is good for on the fly work.

With Green Screen by DoInk, you can separate the clips; you can film against a green screen first, then bring the green video clip into the app and add the background (or backgrounds).  The significant advantage is that the background can be changed if it is not right, without having to film all over again. Another great advantage to DoInk's app is that you can adjust the green using the colour dial to remove all traces of green.

The possibilities of green screen are endless and there are so many applications across the curriculum. Fantasy, pupils describing settings; non-chronological work; news reports; any work that is prefaced by you asking the pupils to "Imagine...."; pupils explaining properties of shapes in maths... and for real impact pupils need to learn how to pretend and act!

Happy green screening!

Autism- and How Much My Life Sucks

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Autism- and How Much My Life Sucks

"Autism and how much it sucks"

Today I was immensely privileged to work with staff from MacIntyre to support Tom- a student who is nothing short of inspirational.

I was approached only recently and asked if I could support him with a presentation he is going to be giving at the forthcoming Autism Awareness Day in Luton on 17th April 2015, in collaboration with FLAG in Luton. (Flyer can be downloaded here)

Tom has a wicked sense of humour. He has an incredible attention to detail and organisation in his work. He has a great talent for animation and art. He has a wry way of perceiving life and making "normals" feel uncomfortable for being "normal". He has a breathtakingly good presentation up his sleeve. He also has autism. Therefore he may not fully understand that his presentation is not literally "up his sleeve".

Tom is understandably nervous about standing in front of people and presenting. He has already been supported by MacIntyre staff to give his presentation to small groups of people and he is growing visibly in confidence. However, it is no mean feat being able to stand up in front of unfamiliar people, present with unfamiliar technology in an unfamiliar setting. Such a request would strike fear into the hearts of the strongest and most confident, let alone someone with autism.

After discussion and deliberation we found a solution together. I would work with Tom to refine his presentation to a manageable time. I would then record Tom's voice in Garageband as he gave his presentation to me. After that we would be able to split the audio, combine it with his slides from PowerPoint and turn it into a movie which can then be played to the audience.

There was one small unexpected twist in the plan.

He looks at life differently. He sees himself differently. He plays with language differently. The consequence?

Tom's presentation is laugh out loud funny.

I was so relieved that I listened to Tom presenting before we started recording as we would have to have deleted the first version anyway due to my giggling and laughing throughout his talk; and the microphone is so sensitive it would also have picked up the vibrations of my shoulders.

With this behind us, we decided to record the whole presentation in manageable bursts. It took time. Valuable time. Quality time.

A reminder: Autism Awareness Day in Luton is on Friday 17th April 2015. If you are available, please come along and bask in the glory of Tom and find out about "Autism and How Much It Sucks" and be prepared to LAUGH.

I will be working with Tom again to put the finishing touches to his wonderful, inspirational, incisive, illuminating, moving presentation. We may all need bigger sleeves.


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