► CommunityBlogMusic EDnet BlogJuly 2017Audio Narration Assessment of Student Performance Videos.

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The Music EDnet blog provides all sorts of interesting information related to our work with teachers and schools around the country. But it also gives the EDnet Team an opportunity to put fingers to keyboard about broader issues that we believe may be of interest to teachers ... including the challenges that face us all from day to day.

Audio Narration Assessment of Student Performance Videos.

Audio narration is a powerful and efficient method to use when assessing video submissions of individual student performances.  This article will take you through the process of adding a teacher's narration track in the simple yet powerful video editing software known as Vegas Movie Studio.

Audio narration is superior to feedback from paper based assessment in a number of ways:

  • You have much less to consider in your descriptive terminology, as you can speak in real time and know the student will be watching the same footage you’re referring to.

  • You do not have to consider the ‘tone’ of your summary like you do in writing, as the student will be able to hear it in your voice!

  • You can reinforce the positives as you go, so the student is encouraged by what they’re doing well, and not only focused on what they need to improve on.

  • Criticism is as specific to the problem areas as it can be without you physically being in the same room.

  • Overall It is faster and less tedious than producing meaningful written assessments, and the feedback students receive is more detailed, accurate and effective.


So how do you go about it?

The easiest way to deal with this that allows for some flexibility where required, is to use2-Movie-Studio-box.jpg a simple and inexpensive video editing application like Vegas Movie Studio.  The scenario in this article assumes you’ve already received a video file from your student, or have taken the footage yourself, so have access to the resulting video file.  This might be on an SD card from a camera, a USB drive, or hosted in the cloud somewhere that you can download it from.

When you have the file accessible on your computer, bringing it into the simple Vegas Movie Studio interface is as easy as dragging and dropping it from windows explorer into the ‘Project Media’ area on the left-hand side.  Almost all current video editing Applications allow this type of action now, so it’s easier than ever to get your video data into such programs for editing:

Once your student video is showing in the Project Media area, you can drag and drop it onto a video track in the timeline at the bottom.  If you don’t have any tracks created, they will be created automatically.

The timeline represents the linear progression of the video and its accompanying audio file over time.  The audio file will be split onto a separate track so you can edit it independently if necessary.
 
At the top-right of the interface in the above images, you can see the ‘preview’ area where the playback of the inserted video will be displayed.  If you click the ‘Advanced’ option at the top-left, it will reveal a handle you can use to click-and-drag the preview out of the interface so you can enlarge it.  If you have two screens connected to your computer, you can drag the Preview to a 2nd screen entirely, which is a very efficient way to work with video production software:



All you need to do now is create another Audio track by right-clicking a blank space below the existing tracks on the far-left, and choose ‘Audio Track’ from the pop-up list (if you don’t have an extra one created already of course)

At this point, if you’re going to narrate using your PC’s Built in microphone, you can usually just hit the red ‘Arm for record’ button on the new audio track you’ve created.  It will prompt you the first time to confirm or locate a folder for the files to be recorded into.  It’s often best to make a special folder to save your Movie Studio session into when you save it for the first time via File Menu > Save (which you should do often!), and you can tell the Application at this point to use the same folder to save your recorded files.  When you’re done telling it where to record to, then hit the red ‘record’ button in the play controls at the bottom of the Preview area at the top-right of the interface:



If you have one available or can budget for it though, we recommend using a high-quality microphone for your voice recording, as this will capture you voice with greater depth and clarity and thus make it easier for your students to understand your commentary.  This could be a USB microphone like the Blue Snowball, or if you have a USB audio interface, you can use a microphone connected to that also.  To select an alternate input device In Vegas Movie Studio, you just need to go to Options Menu > Preferences, then, in the Preferences window, click the ‘audio device’ Tab at the top and choose your preferred recording device from the drop-down menu at the top.


Note; It is also OK to use a separate audio recording device and bring the audio into a Movie Studio session after the event, just like we did with the video file.  So, if you want to simply watch the student performance on your Laptop and narrate it into the voice recorder on your phone for example, followed by copying the audio from the phone onto your PC and into the session later, you certainly can.  This gives you less control over your audio quality and file tracking though.
 
You should ensure you’re wearing headphone’s when recording your narration, no matter which device you use to record it, so the output of the PC or external speakers playing back the video does not feedback into your microphone, and you’ll be able to hear the performance much more clearly.
 
If you intend to narrate and evaluate the performance all in one hit in Vegas Movie Studio, then that should be all there is to it, as far as setting it up for capturing the narration data goes.    You just need to click ‘Stop’ or hit the spacebar when you’re finished. 
 
Of course, you can stop at any point and start again from any point in the timeline, so if you muddle up your words or just want to say something differently, it’s easy to fix.  You can also easily drag your audio chunks around on the timeline if you need to, and they will automatically cross-fade into each other if they overlap.  It’s just as easy to split up any of the files in the session by selecting a point in the file in the timeline and using the Shortcut ‘S’ for ‘Split’.  You could choose to do this for the original video if there are some redundant sections of extended silence that could be ‘cut’ for example. 
 
When you think you’re done, you should quickly listen back to the session at several points throughout, to ensure your narration can be heard above the original performance audio, but doesn’t drown it out too much.  You’ll want the student to be able to hear what you’re referring to in your commentary when they listen back to the file they receive.  You can make any volume adjustments you need with the volume sliders on the left-hand side.  Along the length of Audio tracks, you’ll also see an automation line that you can use to have the volume of your narration or the original performance audio change automatically over time, so if you want to get a little more precise with the audio in your final product you can.  All you need to do is Double-click the line to make a control point, and click and drag to move the points around:

Once you’ve captured the audio of your narration and you’re happy with it, you need to export the video file containing the new audio info.  To do this, click ‘Make Movie’ at the top of the interface:

 

This will bring up a few options to choose from.  If you’re saving the video to your computer Hard-drive for now, as shown in the image below, we recommend using ‘MP4’, as it should give you a good quality final ‘render’ in the file that is created, while minimizing its file size.  When this is chosen, select the location you want to save to by clicking ‘Browse’ at the bottom-right, then click ‘Select Folder’ in the browse window when you’re done.  You then need to click ‘Next’ back in the ‘save to hard drive’ window and let it run through the rendering process that will begin at this point.  This will take some time, so allow it to finish before attempting any further video or audio work on the same computer.  When it’s finished, your final file for sending to the student will be created in the location you specified.

File sizes are large when it comes to video, and it can’t be compressed anywhere near as efficiently as MP3 audio.  As long as you’re aware of this though, you’ll know to upload your final video assessment files for student downloading well ahead of time.
 
Here’s a short example of me narrating one of my own performances, just to give you a clear idea of what the final product should look like and how helpful it can be. As suggested above, I’ve turned the original audio track down considerably, and boosted my narration to make it clear, using the volume sliders in the track controls to the left of the Vegas Movie Studio interface:


 

That’s all there is to it!  There are of course more advanced options you can explore as you become more comfortable with video editing, but you don’t have to do any more than necessary for the purpose, and Vegas Movie Studio keeps it nice and simple for you during the process. 
 
A little word on file management and delivery to finish...

For managing these files and providing student access to them for downloading, if your school does not provide an online learning management system (LMS) that allows this or makes it easy, then investing in a www.dropbox.com account with 1TB of storage is highly recommended.  Dropbox appears like a normal folder on Windows or Mac, but it will automatically upload any files you copy or save to it to your online Dropbox account for permanent safe storage, which protects your files if something were to go wrong with your machine.  It also syncs the Dropbox folder to any of your other machines you install Dropbox on, and it doesn't care if they're Windows or Mac.  When you’re ready to provide file access to a student, if it’s in your Dropbox folder, all you have to do is right-click it and choose ‘copy drop-box link’ and then paste the copied link into a message for the student.  You can try it out anytime with a free 2GB account and see how you like it, so give it a go today…

For more info on video editing software, microphones, audio interfaces and any other music-technology needs you may require, please call or email us via the options below:

Phone (New Zealand): 0800 141 474
Phone (Australia): 1300 723 700
Email (NZ): info@musicednet.co.nz
Email (AU): info@musicednet.com

28/07/2017 5:35:26 p.m. | 0 comments
Filed under: assessment, editing, music, narration, performance, student, video


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