An Interview with Tony Vincent
Tony Vincent is a well-known technology guru and teacher of teachers in the K-12 environment. He travels around the country and runs workshops on how educators can better use technology in their classrooms to supplement, extend or support core lessons. ScreenFlow has become a big part of his instructional toolset. He uses it to help him with his presentations and instructional videos, which he often posts at www.LearninginHand.com (a veritable treasure trove of resources for teachers and screencasters).
We recently had a chance to talk with Tony about his process is and how he uses ScreenFlow to help him create amazing videos and high quality teaching tools.
SF Team: Hi Tony, let’s start by sharing a bit about your background. Who are you and where can people learn more about you?
Tony: I’m Tony Vincent. I used to teach fifth grade and now I’m self-employed. I make a living helping teachers leverage technology in their classrooms. I spend a lot of time traveling to schools and conferences to lead workshops and make presentations. My website is at learninginhand.com.
SF Team: How long have you been screen casting and approximately how many screencasts have you made (or how often do you screencast)?
Tony: I began screencasting in 2008. I’ve used screencasts to record demonstrations of technology that teachers can use for teaching and learning. I fire up ScreenFlow at least once a week to record or animate at least one thing for a presentation or post.
SF Team: How did you get started screen casting? What made you transition from a teacher to a full-time technology trainer and screen caster?
Tony: I got into screencasting at about the same time I became more involved in training other teachers. As an elementary teacher, my summers and breaks were filled with presentation and travel opportunities. After a few years of working what was essentially two jobs, I made myself focus on one. That’s when I became self-employed and had more time to create instructional materials, including screencasts.
SF Team: What does screen casting help you achieve?
Tony: Screencasting helps me with two important things. First, I love that I can screencast a demo and include it in my presentation slideshows. While I prefer to do live demonstrations, sometimes there’s just not time to leave my slideshow and demo an app, website, or technique. With a screencast, I can embed a video that I can talk through as the screencast plays. With ScreenFlow, I can zoom and annotate to make what I am showing absolutely clear.
I also produce a series of videos as a podcast and on YouTube. Screencasting helps me show my audience exactly what I want them to see. Back before I began using screencasting software, I would point a video camera at my computer screen. Reflections, glare, and resolution kept those videos from being awesome.
SF Team: How do you find/choose new topics or videos to post? Do you have more ideas than you could ever do, or are you finding it a struggle to keep making relevant content?
Tony: I have many more ideas than I could possibility produce. I use the Wunderlist app to keep a list of topics. Some have remained on that list a very long time and will probably never get made into videos. I choose topics to make into full videos based, first, on what I am most excited about. I pick topics that get somewhat technical, so that teachers in my audience can refer to the videos in the future.
SF Team: What ’s the process you use for creating screencasts (how do you go from a blank slate to a completed video)? For example, do you write a script first? Do you record audio/video at the same time or different times? Etc.? Has your process changed over time?
Tony: For my instructional video series, I write a complete script before I begin work on the video. I then record myself reading the script in front of a green screen. Then I bring that video into ScreenFlow, where I replace the background. Finally, I layer video and images behind and on top of my video.
SF Team: What kind of studio or setup do you have?
Tony: I have a blog post about my filming setup, complete with a 360° photo at learninginhand.com/blog/greenscreen-setup. I also have worked with ScreenFlow live on Periscope so that others can see how I use it. Here’s an archived Periscope broadcast.
SF Team: What are the essential tools that any ScreenFlow-er/screencaster needs? (software or hardware)
Tony: You don’t need anything beyond a computer and software to get started. Though, I would suggest a microphone. An external microphone really makes a difference in sound quality.
SF Team: What do you like about ScreenFlow in particular, as a screen casting software?
Tony: I like that ScreenFlow has built in chromakey effect. With this effect I can insert images behind me, cut to full screen demos, and come back to my video. I can layer descriptions on top. ScreenFlow’s timeline is easy to work with. In fact, I often use ScreenFlow for movie editing, as it is less confusing to me than iMovie. Furthermore, I can quickly animate a video or image. I just love how I can set the starting and ending positions, sizes, and orientations and ScreenFlow creates a very smooth animation between the starting and ending points. With a simple click and drag, and I can make the animation go more quickly or slowly. And one more thing I love–the audio effects! I can adjust the settings to reduce background noise. Chromakey, animations, effects, and audio enhancements make my videos look very professional. I’m often asked, “How did you do that?!”
SF Team: What are the most challenging parts of creating a video for you?
Tony: For me getting the script just right is challenging. After I film my video, I do not want to have to reshoot. There’s usually something I discover or want to change after I begin editing in ScreenFlow.
SF Team: Do you have any hard-earned advice for new screen casters, or new ScreenFlow users?
Tony: Save often! My videos tend to have multiple images, audio effects, and videos layered upon each other. I know I’m stressing my computer out when I have so much going on at once. Sometimes the app will unexpectedly quit and I will have lost my work since I last did a Save.
SF Team: What’s the silliest/most foolish thing you’ve done while screen casting (or any other fun anecdote you can share)?
Tony: I created some infomercials for teachers about some specific tech tools they could use. I cut from a black and white video of myself being frustrated in front of a computer to a colorful screencast of how that tool could solve that frustration. For example, this video is about using Doodle to schedule meetings and this one is about shortening long URLs with TinyURL.
SF Team: Do you have any screen casters or content makers you like to watch?
Tony: I like the screencasts Richard Byrne at freetech4teachers.com publishes. He often includes one he has made specifically for teachers about the the topic of his daily blog post.
SF Team: When I took your workshop, if I’m remembering correctly, your cat featured quite prominently in some of the tutorials. Just how big a feline fan are you?
Tony: I do have two cats, Dewey and Kitti. They have taken a backseat to my three year old twins, Connor and Ellie. Like me, they enjoy filming in front of a green screen. Thanks to ScreenFlow’s Chromakey effect, Connor and Ellie have been inserted into fun places, like a space ships and music videos. The cats, however, have shown no interest in posing in front of a green screen.