This article will walk you through how to use Hitfilm Express 4, a powerful and highly capable free editing suite that lets users create beautiful and professional-quality films and videos easily and quickly. I’ll show you:
To download Hitfilm Express 4, simply go to Hitfilm.com/Express and follow the instructions for downloading to Mac or Windows.
When you first open Hitfilm Express 4 on your computer, you’ll see the Home page with a range of video tutorials for various tools and features, a User Guide button, and a left-side menu that offers a range of optional Add-On Packs to enhance your editing capabilities.
First, I want to guide you through some of the basics of using this versatile program.
To get started with your new project, click on New in the top-left corner of the window, and the Project page will open up.
The Project page is where you’ll choose the essential settings for your new project, including settings such as Template, which lets you optimize your video for various platforms.
For now, just leave all the default settings as they are and just click “Start Editing” to get going.
Keep in mind that it’s always wise to stop and “Save” every so often, just in case.
Once you click “Start Editing” you’ll be taken to the Edit window. If you look around you’ll see the Viewer panel at the top-right, the Trimmer panel at the top-left, a Library panel at the bottom-left, and then the Timeline along the bottom.
It may look a bit intimidating at first, but I’ll walk you through all the basic windows, lists, tools, and processes and you’ll be editing like a pro in no time!
One thing you should know before you get started is that you can adjust the look of your Edit window.
At the top-left of the Edit window, you’ll see a little icon that looks like a grid. When you click that icon, it opens a Workspaces panel where you can select the layout and features in your Edit window.
The Classic setting is the default setting, and that’s what I’ll be using for this tutorial, but you can play with the adjustments later on and figure out which configuration best meets your needs.
First, you’ll need to import some media files with which to construct your new video project. All you need to do is go down to the Library panel at the bottom-left, click the Media tab, and click on Import.
This will open a finder window where you can click through the folders on your computer and select the video, audio, and still image files you want to use.
Another importing method is to click, drag, and drop files straight from your desktop into the Media Library.
Note: Once you import media files into Hitfilm Express 4, they’re referred to as “tracks,” and that’s the term I will be using from now on.
Once you’ve imported a few dozen files into your Library, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
To help you stay organized, you can create folders inside of your Media Library. One easy way to do that is to move your cursor over the Library space, right-click, select New, and then select Folder from the menu.
Once the new folder appears in the list, you just need to give it a name and drag files into that folder to keep them together in one place. You could also click New Folder at the bottom of the Library.
One thing to notice is the Track List at the left edge of the Timeline. You’ll see that video tracks have a little eye icon, and audio tracks have a speaker icon.
If you click on those icons, you can hide or mute that track. This allows you to play your video in the Preview window and focus on specific tracks. For example, maybe you want to hear how some background music audios all by itself, or if you want to view your current video without a certain scene in it, to help you decide if you want to keep that scene.
Now, up at the top-left of the Edit window, you have a Trimmer screen. If you click on a video track in your Library, you’ll see a preview of that track appear in the Trimmer. This screen has the usual controls you see on any video player, such as Play, Fast Forward, etc.
You also have two little icons that look like an arrow coming out of a box. Those icons are what you use to select a section of a track.
Let’s say you have a 30-second video track of the Earth spinning, and you only want a 10-second section to use in your video. Here’s how to cut clips out of videos:
When you add the clip to the Timeline, you may get a little pop-up window asking if you want to change the Editor Sequence’s Settings to match the current clip.
Just click Yes, and the program will adjust the editor to match the formatting of your clip and insert it into your Timeline. Now your clip is a new track!
Once you have a track your Timeline, click on the track to select it, and that track will appear up in the Preview panel. Any time you select a track in the Timeline, it will appear in the Preview panel.
Now I’d like to show you some of the editing tools you have available.
Let’s say you have a track that you’d like to use as the opening scene of the video, but the track moves too slowly and takes up too much time onscreen. Hitfilm Express 4 offers you a way to speed up or slow down your tracks to get just the right look and speed.
All you need to do is click on the track in the Timeline, right-click to open a menu, and then select Speed/Duration.
When the little window opens up, you can either adjust the speed percentage or adjust the Duration by typing in the number of seconds you want that track to appear on screen.
Now there’s one thing you may notice as you work: Remember earlier when you imported a media track and got a pop-up window asking if you wanted to change the formatting to match the Editor to your track’s format?
Well, when you drag a media file straight from your Library into the Timeline, that pop-up window may not appear, so you might end up with some mismatched tracks in your Timeline.
If you happen to drag a track into the Timeline and it’s in a format that doesn’t match your current settings, the track will appear as an odd size up in the Viewer panel. But never fear, there are two simple ways that you can solve that problem.
Method 1: When a non-matching track appears as an odd size in the Viewer, you’ll see a sizing box around the image. To make the track fill the frame, simply click on one of the corners, hold down the Shift key, and drag the corner out toward the edge of the Viewer.
As you adjust the size of the image to fit the Viewer frame, the program is adjusting the formatting, so that it matches your current settings.
Method 2: Right-click on the track inside the Timeline, then click “Transform” in the menu, and then select “Fit To Frame.”
Now let’s check out some of the editing tools. At the left edge of the Timeline, you’ll see a vertical toolbar.
At the top of the toolbar is the Selection arrow. This tool lets you select and move tracks around.
Just below the Selection arrow is the Drag tool, which looks like a little hand with a pointing finger. This tool lets you grab and move the entire Timeline back and forth.
Below the Drag tool, you’ll see the Slice tool. This tool’s icon looks like a razor blade and lets you make cuts in your tracks. For example, maybe you want to cut a piece out of a longer track or add a scene right in the middle of a track.
Another great tool is the Snap tool. It looks like a little horseshoe or magnet and is located at the bottom of the Editor toolbar.
I like to leave this tool on almost all the time so that when I move tracks around the Timeline, they’ll automatically “snap” to the tracks nearby. This helps users avoid accidentally leaving gaps in their video.
Now let’s take a look at some audio editing options.
Maybe you have a video track with some embedded audio, like a street scene with background noises such as cars, honking horns, and foot traffic.
When you import a video track to your Timeline, the audio track will appear just underneath the video track. If you click on the audio track in the Timeline, the track will turn green, and you’ll see a thin horizontal line running across the bottom of the track.
When you drag that line up and down, and the audio volume will adjust up and down.
You’ll also see a Meter panel at the right edge of the Timeline, with moving colored bars. These bars represent the volume of your audio and can help you adjust the volume of specific tracks.
Keep in mind that when you add a video track to the Timeline, any audio in that track will appear as its own track and will be automatically linked to the video track.
If you want to get rid of the audio, maybe to replace it with some music, all you need to do is right-click on the audio track, and select “Unlink” from the menu.
This action separates the audio and video, and then you can move or delete the audio track without affecting the video track.
Adding Transitions is a great way to connect different scenes and audio tracks in a smooth, professional-looking style. For example, maybe you want your opening credits to slowly fade into the first scene, or have the last scene wipe into the closing credits.
All you need to do is go to your Library panel at the bottom-left and click on the Effects tab. This will open a new menu filled with all kinds of wonderful effects.
From the Effects menu, you’ll want to click on Transitions. Now, you simply click on a transition and drop it into the Timeline in between the two connected tracks where you want the fade to appear.
There’s also an audio Transition that lets you make audio tracks fade in and out. Simply find the Audio Transition in the Effects menu, then drag and drop Fade directly onto the end of a track that you want to fade out, from loud to soft. Or you can drag and drop it onto the beginning of an audio track that you’d like to fade in, from soft to loud.
To get started, make sure the Media tab is selected in your Library panel, then click on New right next to the Import button. Then, choose Composite Shot.
A Composite Shot is essentially a scene made out of different layers. If you’ve worked with certain photo editing programs before, you’re probably familiar with layers.
The advantage of having text on a separate layer is that you can edit and move the text around without changing anything in the layers underneath.
Once you click New, and Then Composite Shot, a Properties panel will open. For this demonstration, I’ll type the name “Text” in the Name box at the top. Then click Ok at the bottom.
Once you click Ok, you’ll see the name “Text,” appear at the top-left corner of the Timeline, next to the word “Editor’. That shows you that your new Composite Shot is active.
Under the new Text tab at the top of the Timeline, you’ll see a search bar. Under that search bar is a blank space. Right-click inside that space, select New Layer, and then select Text.
When the little Text Properties panel appears, just click Ok.
Next, you’ll see a box with a blue outline appear in your Viewer panel. Click inside that box, and now you can just start typing.
Once you create your text, it will appear as a separate track over in your Media Library. All you need to do is click, drag, and drop the text into the Timeline above the video and media tracks.
Remember, you’re essentially working with layers here, so you need to place the text above the other tracks, so that it’s visible. If you placed it under the other tracks in the Timeline, you wouldn’t be able to see it.
If you need to move the text around the Timeline, so that it appears onscreen at just the right moment in the video, just use the Selector tool, that little arrow icon in the Timeline toolbar.
If you’d like to change the font, color, or size of the text, there’s a panel where you can find text controls, but it may not be immediately obvious where that panel is located.
To find the text controls, go down to your Library panel and look at the menu tabs across the top. You’ll see Media, Effects, Controls, etc. At the right side of that menu, you’ll see a tiny arrow.
Just click that arrow, and you’ll see a whole new set of additional menu tabs, including a Text tab. Click on Text, and the controls you’re after will appear below.
You can also adjust how long the text appears on the screen. Just move your cursor to the end of the text track the Timeline, click, and you’ll see the cursor turn into a bracket.
Now you can click and drag the end of the track back and forth to lengthen or shorten the amount of time the text appears on the screen.
You can also drag and drop the Text track directly ONTO a video track in the Timeline, and then the two tracks will be linked, but if you prefer to keep the text separate so that you can play with it and move it around independently, just leave it as a separate track.
To add an effect to a video track, select the Effects tab from the menu at the top of the Media Library panel.
Scroll down the Effects menu, and you’ll see Particles & Simulation. Under the Particles & Simulation heading is an option named Lightning & Electricity.
Click on a video track in your Timeline, then choose Lightning & Electricity from the Effects menu, and drag and drop it onto the selected track.
Since you selected the video track, it will appear up in the Viewer panel. As soon as you drop Lightning & Electricity onto the track, you’ll see a lightning bolt appear over the image in the Viewer.
At either end of the lightning bolt, you’ll notice a small dot, almost like a little glowing star. If you click and drag the dots, you can change the size, orientation, and shape of the lightning bolt.
You can make even more adjustments to the lightning bolt under the Controls tab in the Library panel.
Simply click the Controls tab, then scroll down until you see the Lightning & Electricity effect. Click on the effect, and it will open a set of controls that you can use to further customize the look of your effects.
Take some time to play around with the effects and effects controllers so you can get familiar with the tools and options. And remember, you can click Play at the bottom of the viewer panel to see how your effects will look in the completed video.
Green screens have been a favorite tool of video and film editors for decades. It’s an easy way to insert characters into fantasy worlds, for example, and Hitfilm Express 4 offers this option to make your videos even more amazing and eye-catching than ever before.
The most common type of green screen effects typically features some characters or subjects performing in front of a flat green background. In this example, I’ll use a track featuring some chickens in front of a green screen.
First, you’ll need to import a green screen video file into your Media Library. You might have already filmed your own video, you can search around the internet for random green screen clips, or you can look for specific websites that offer free green screen clip downloads.
Next, select a background video track. You can choose any video track to experiment with. In this example, I have some footage of a street scene, with cars and pedestrians passing by. Move the background track into your Timeline above the other tracks.
Now, find your imported green screen track in the Media Library, click, and drag and drop it directly above the background track in the Timeline. I’ll use a track of some chickens for this example.
By placing the green screen track at the top of the Timeline, you’re essentially placing a green screen layer on top of all the other layers, including the street scene background.
Now click to select the green screen track in the Timeline, and you’ll see the image appear in the Preview panel.
With the green screen track selected, go over and click the Effects tab, and scroll down until you see a category named “Keying.”
Expand the Keying category, and choose Hue & RGB Key from the list. Click, drag, and drop Hue & RGB Key directly onto the green screen track in the Timeline.
Now, depending on how your default settings are configured, you might see something weird when you drop the Hue & RGB Key onto your track:
You may see that the green background stays as it is, and the foreground figures become “invisible” and show through to the background, which is NOT the effect you’re after. Don’t worry; it’s easy to correct this!
Go back to Hue & RGB Key in the Effects menu, click the little arrow to expand the list, and you’ll see a control panel. At the top of the panel is an eyedropper icon.
Click on the eyedropper, drag it up to the Preview panel, and click on the green background.
As soon as you click, you should see the green disappear, the figures reappear, and the street scene is now visible in the background.
You can also adjust the size of the foreground figures in your green screen scene.
If you look at the Preview window, you’ll see a blue sizing box around the screen. Click on a corner, hold down the shift key, and drag the corner to adjust the size.
Once you have the figures where you want them, you can click Play at the bottom of the Viewer and check how everything looks.
Now that you’ve learned how to import media, create text, add effects, and perform some essential editing functions, it’s time to learn how to save and export a finished project.
First, go to the vertical toolbar at the left edge of the Timeline, and find the icon near the bottom that looks like a film frame. That’s the Export Content tool.
Once you click, a panel will pop up telling you that “The Editor timeline has been added to the Export Queue.” Just click Go to Export.
A Queue panel will open with your selected project listed at the top. In this panel, you have some adjustments you can make.
For example, you can optimize your video for various platforms like YouTube or Vimeo, as well as for different devices such as iPad and iPhone, just by clicking the little arrow under the Preset tab.
You can also click on the file directly under the Output tab and choose where you want the video to be stored on your computer.
Once you’ve set everything the way you want it, go down to the bottom of the Queue panel and click Start Exporting. Once the export is complete, your finished project is ready to share with the world!!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s tutorial! When you’re ready to learn more, just click Home at the top of your window to return to the homepage where you can find a great selection of video tutorials, as well as the button that takes you to the User Manual.
Before you know it you’ll be producing professional-looking videos that will amaze and impress any audience.
Please share this article and enter your email below to get a monthly update on the best new technology for teaching. I hope you enjoyed it!
Google Forms is an online form builder that lets you create versatile questionnaires, quizzes, and forms quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:
First, go into your Google Drive and click on the red “New” button at the top-left of the window, then click “More”, and then click on “Google Forms”. This will open a window with a new Google Form labeled “Untitled Form” at the top.
There’s another way you can open a new Google Form that may feel more comfortable or convenient. Go to your Google Drive Window, then click on the square icon in the top right corner that is made out of small black squares. Clicking on this icon will open a list of Google apps.
You should see a purple icon named “Forms.” If the icon doesn’t show up at first, scroll down and click on “More” at the bottom of the apps list.
When you find the purple “Forms” icon, click on it and you will get a message that says “Do you want to add this as a shortcut?” Select “Yes” to add the Forms icon on your main apps window, so it will be easy to find next time. You can also click, hold, and drag to arrange each icon in the shortcuts menu and place them in the order you like.
When you enter Google Forms from the app shortcut panel, it will take you to the “Template” section of Forms and you should see a template named “Blank” on the right side of the Template window. Click on the “Blank” template, and you will now have a new form just like the one you got in the first example where you clicked “New”, then “More”, then “Google Forms”.
Give your form a name by clicking “Untitled Form” in the top left corner and adding your title. I always do this right away to help keep track of it.
If you don’t like the default colors on your form’s header bar and background, go up to the top-right of your screen and click on the palette icon. This lets you change the color scheme of your Form. You can also click on the icon in the bottom right corner of the color options and select from a list of photos and designs, including some animated options. These look nicer than plain colors and work great if you’re using Forms to make a birthday party invitation or a brunch menu.
You can also upload your own photos to make each form a unique work of art. Click on the “Upload Photo” at the bottom of the images menu, then follow the instructions for uploading. Your photo needs to be at least 800 pixels wide to fit into the header bar on the form, and after you load the image you’ll see a crop window to choose what part of the image you want to show.
The form starts with a default multiple choice question that you can easily delete or edit. Click on the trash can icon at the bottom of the question to get rid of it.
The title of your form will be the same as the file title you entered in the top-left corner earlier, but you can change it and add a description to explain what your form is about.
Now it’s time to add some questions. On the right side of your form you’ll see a vertical toolbar. At the top of the toolbar is a “+” inside a circle. Click on it and a new question will appear on your form. This question will automatically be multiple choice, but you can change that by clicking the dropdown titled “Multiple Choice” and choosing a different style of question.
I usually start a quiz or questionnaire with getting a student’s name, so I’ll choose “Short Answer” as the first question format. This lets people type words or symbols instead of just clicking a checkbox. Type in your question in the “Question” blank, and choose required at the bottom right of the question if you want to force someone to answer that question to complete the form.
You can add the next question by clicking on the “+” icon on the right again. Type your question, choose the type of question, and set it as “Required” if you want to make an answer mandatory.
You can add several different kinds of questions to your form. To add a multiple choice question, click on the “+” again leave it as a multiple choice question. In this example I’ve asked “What is the largest planet?” and I can add the answer choices by first filling in “Option 1” and then clicking “Add option” below that and filling it in. You can choose “Add other” if you want to allow the option for someone to write in their own answer.
You can preview your form any time by clicking the little eye icon at the top of the screen. That will open a new window that shows you how the form will look, complete with the color scheme and question formatting that you chose.
The Preview page works exactly like the form will work when you send it out, so if you just click “Submit” at the bottom you’ll see that any of the questions you marked as “Required” will show an error in red. I usually don’t set questions as required until the last step of making my form, because I like to test how the answers will look in Preview mode as I’m building the form.
Now let’s say you have a list of 20 or 30 questions but you don’t want to force people to scroll and scroll forever to get to the end, because not only can that be annoying but it can look somewhat unprofessional in some situations. To fix this, you can add a Section by clicking on the bottom icon in your vertical toolbar. This will bring up a new Section titled “Section 2 of 2”, and now your survey, test, or invitation is broken up into smaller sections or pages that are easier to handle and appear more organized to the reader.
Now you can give the new section a name, we’re choosing “Earth” in the video example, and then continue adding and writing questions. Preview your form again and you’ll see that the form now has a “Next” button at the bottom, which indicates that there’s another section coming up, but since you marked some of the lines as “Required”, people will still need to fill out all of the information before they can move on to the next page.
If you want to turn off the “Required” setting all you need to do is go back to your form, click on the question or line, and click on the little dot next to “Required” to switch it off. Now you will have an easier time previewing all of your pages or sections as you work.
If you decide that you want people to fill in an email first on the form instead of their name, you don’t have to delete the lines and start over, just move your mouse to the top of the question area until you see it turn into a little “Move” icon. Then you can click and drag each question into whatever order you like.
Also, If you decide to delete a section entirely you can click on the tiny row of dots in the top corner of that section, and that will show you a small menu of options. Click “Delete” and it’s gone.
Now let’s try another type of answer formatting. Click on the plus sign to add another question, then click on “Multiple choice” to open the answer options menu, and choose “Checkboxes.”
This option might be handy if you’re creating a survey, or maybe planning a party and asking friends about menu preferences or specific days that work for their schedules.
You can also create “Dropdown” questions that open a dropdown menu with the answer options you enter.
Other answer format options include:
First, you can add a new title to your form by clicking on the “TT” icon in your vertical toolbar. This doesn’t create a new section, it merely lets you add a new title in case you want to add more information as people progress through the form, or use it to introduce an image or a video that’s coming up next.
To insert an image into your form, click the center icon on your vertical toolbar. It looks like a small landscape image. This will open a window where you can use keywords to find specific subjects. You can also upload your own images from your personal albums or your Drive, or enter a URL to insert an image from a website or page. Once you select the image you want you’ll see it appear on your form. If the image is too large, you can resize it by clicking and dragging the corner.
You can also center or align the image by clicking the alignment icons below the image, and add a title at the top of the image if you like. Remember that you can click on the “Preview” icon at the top of the screen as many times as you want to make sure you like how the form looks.
To add a video to your form, click the “Video” arrow icon on your vertical toolbar and it’ll bring up a window where you can search YouTube using keywords, or enter a URL if you have a specific website or page in mind. You can resize videos just like images, and add a title at the top if you like.
At the top of your forms widow you’ll see a small gear icon. This takes you to “Settings” and gives you even more options for customizing your form. For example, the “Shuffle questions order” option will show each person a different version of the form with the questions in a different order on each copy of the form. This could be really helpful if you want to make it harder for students to share answers during tests. However, if you have images or videos that are related to a specific question then this option will mess up the order, so use your best judgement when using the “Shuffle” option.
Other tools in the Settings menu include a progress bar that you can activate to let people see how far along in the test or survey they are, and an option to limit who can access and fill out the form. You may want to make it available only to students at your school, or only close friends and family. You also have an additional Actions menu in the top right corner of your screen.
This menu has options for copying and printing your form, or you can let other people help create and edit the form by clicking “Add collaborators” to make it a group project. You can also choose “Add-ons” from the Actions menu, which opens a new window where you can select from a wide range of apps and extras to enhance your forms.
If you click on one of your questions and then click the row of dots in the bottom right corner you’ll see two more options for customizing your questions: “Hint text”, which lets people ask for a hint to the answer or can provide some extra clarification to the question, and “Data Validation”, which makes people answer questions the way you want them to. For example, if you ask people to enter their name and instead they try to enter an email address, they will get a notification that their answer is not correct.
Once you’ve got your questions and answers formatted and you think your form is ready to go, click Preview one more time and then try filling out all of the lines and questions you just created, as if you were someone taking a test or survey. Once you get to the end, click “Submit” on the Preview form. Now go back to your working form that you’ve been editing. At the top of the form you will now see a number next to “Responses”. This tells you that someone has successfully filled out your form. If you click on “Responses” you’ll get a new window where you can see all of the answers that have been submitted and choose to see either individual responses from each person, or a summary of all of the submitted answers in the form of a pie chart.
If you need or want to have the response data on a spreadsheet you can click on the small green icon at the top of the Responses window. This will allow you to either create a new spreadsheet or import the data to an existing spreadsheet.
You can also open a menu in the top right corner of the Responses window that gives you more options such as “Download responses,” “Delete responses,” or “Get email notifications” so you can see when new responses are submitted. Now you can see how easy it is to get instant data and evaluate the responses, whether your form is a school test, a product survey, or an opinion poll on the best day to throw a surprise party!
If you want to start a new form, but perhaps aren’t quite done editing the first one, you can click the back arrow at the top left of your Forms screen and that will take you back to the Forms Templates page, and your current form will already be saved under “Recent forms.”
Thank for reading! You’re now ready to create a brand new test, survey, menu, invitation, or any number of other kinds of forms, and if you ever run into trouble you can open the Actions menu on your Forms page and click on “Help Center” to get assistance.
Making a YouTube channel gives you a powerful platform to upload and share knowledge. You can also use YouTube to record your screen for free. In this article, I’ll show you:
Start your YouTube channel by signing into your Google account or creating an account here: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp
Once you’ve confirmed everything and logged in, you’ll see the account screen, as shown below. Click the grid of small squares in the top-right corner and this will open the app launcher. Then click YouTube from the selection of Google Apps.
Make sure you’re logged in to the correct Google account by checking the icon in the top-right corner. If you have multiple Google accounts, YouTube may default to a different account than the one you want for your new YouTube channel. Once you’ve confirmed you’re on the right account, click “Creator Studio” below the account name.
If you’ve never created a YouTube channel with this account, you should be taken to a mostly empty page that says “You must create a channel to upload videos.” Click “Create a channel.” Then you will be prompted to enter the name you would like to use for your channel. Think about this carefully, because there are limits on how many changes you can make to your channel name within a certain period of time. Once you’ve decided on a workable name, click “Create channel.”
This will open your YouTube channel video manager, which of course won’t have any videos in it yet. At the top of the left-side navigation you’ll see “Dashboard.” The dashboard shows you a snapshot of what is happening in your YouTube channel, including some analytics. I’ll go more in detail on more analytics tools later in this article. For now, click on “VIEW CHANNEL” below your name near the top of the page.
At the start, every YouTube channel looks boring, so it’s best to add a channel icon and a background image. If you don’t already have graphics for these, Canva is a great, free tool you can use to create custom graphics that are already the right size to work with your YouTube channel. You can see how to do that here.
When you click the small pencil on your channel icon you’ll receive a notice that it may take a few minutes or longer for your changes to take effect. Click “Edit” and you will be taken to your Google profile page where you can upload a channel icon, which is the same as your Google profile image. This is the place you can also use to change your channel name if necessary. Once you’ve added a photo to your Google profile image/YouTube channel icon, close the tab and you should see your YouTube channel again.
Click on the blue button in the top middle of the screen that reads “Add channel art.” Here you can upload a photo you have saved on your computer, use a photo that’s previously been uploaded to your Google account, or select from stock images in the gallery. If you’re uploading your own image, make sure it is at least 2048 by 1152 pixels. The optimal size image for YouTube channel art is 2560 by 1440 pixels.
Channel art shows differently across devices, and once you’ve chosen an image, you will see how it will be displayed on a desktop, TV, and mobile device. Click “Adjust the crop” in the bottom left corner to make changes to your image if needed to make it appear better across devices.
If you’re making a custom graphic, you should experiment with the custom crop tool first and understand that only the middle strip will be shown on computers and mobile devices, so that is where you want any text or highlights to be shown.
Now, click “Video Manager” just above and to the left of your channel art. It is very easy to upload videos from here. You simply click the up arrow in the top-right corner and then click the large arrow in the middle of the screen you are taken to. From a dropdown menu below the large arrow on the Upload Screen, you can choose whether you want your video to be public, private, or unlisted. You can change this setting later if you like. If you set the video as public, anyone can view it. If unlisted, someone needs your link to view the video, and private means only you can view your video. You can either drag and drop video files into the big arrow, or you can click the big arrow and upload files from your computer.
While your video is uploading and processing, you can add details about the video like the title, description, and tags. You want to make especially sure that your title matches what you expect people to be searching for. For example, if you’re making a tutorial on baking a cake, you should title it “Tutorial for Cake Baking” or “How To Bake a Cake.” Write a lot of information in the description and make sure to use the keywords that you want to be found with. Add links in your description for your social media, website, and anywhere else you want viewers to go. Tags are also important to being found. You can enter up to 500 characters in the tags box, so make them count. Enter tags separated by a comma, and get as detailed as possible with as many tag combinations as you can come up with. I use a tool called TubeBuddy to help find tags that are relevant and see how well I’m ranking for tags I’m using. From the Upload Screen, you can also set it as Public, Private, or Unlisted. I usually start with my videos as Private from the upload, and make them Public once I’ve checked everything and made sure it’s right. You can also add your newly uploaded video to a playlist or multiple playlists directly from the Upload Screen. You can then choose one of the default thumbnails, which is just a screenshot from your video, or you can add a custom thumbnail later, which I’ve explained here. Finally, you can choose to Tweet your video directly from the Upload Screen, and you can then add another video by clicking the “+ Add more videos” button on the bottom right.
From the Video Manager, you can always edit any video you have and return to the Upload Screen. Just make sure to save any changes you make by clicking the blue “Save changes” button at the top or bottom of the screen.
It’s a good idea to verify your channel. You can start this process by going to “Channel” in the left-side navigation and selecting “Status and features.” You can view the detailed instructions for verifying your YouTube channel here. If your channel is verified, you can add custom thumbnails to your videos, and you can set up monetization through Adsense, offer paid content, or live stream on YouTube.
If you click the gear just below the channel art at the right of your Channel Overview, you can change your Channel Settings. You may want to change the privacy settings of your channel here, otherwise people will be able to see all the videos you have liked on YouTube, as well as your subscriptions and saved playlists. From the Channel Settings screen, you can also allow customization of your channel, which will let you do things like add a trailer and suggest content to your visitors.
With “Customize the layout of your channel” enabled, you will see a navigation menu at the top of your channel, much like you would see on a typical website.
Now, you can access an “About” page for your channel using the navigation menu. Here, you can edit your channel description and add links that will show up overlaid on your channel art. These links can be to your website, landing page, social media, or any other link you want to send people to. You can choose from the dropdown how many of the links you would like to be overlaid on your channel art. If you choose “5,” then the first five links you add will be overlaid on your channel art, as shown below, with the first one being the largest and most prominent.
I use playlists with my channel, and I arrange them with a horizontal layout. From the Home section of your channel, click “Add section.” Then you can choose what you want this section to show, such as a playlist or your most popular videos. You can choose whether you want that selection of videos displayed in a horizontal row or vertical row. As you create more videos that match whatever selection you’ve added to a section–such as a specific playlist–they will automatically populate that section.
You can even select what you want new visitors to see on your page versus returning subscribers. You may want to have a channel trailer or short explainer video shown whenever a new visitor sees your page. From your page overview, at the top you can choose to view your channel as yourself, a subscriber, or as a new visitor. This can help you get a feel for how your channel will look depending upon who is visiting it.
“It’s important to play with the look of your channel and give it a feel using custom channel art, custom thumbnails, having your picture on the profile–all these things can give it an interesting look to set it apart from other people.”
Your dashboard shows you a snapshot of important information, and you can customize it by dragging sections to where you want them. You can also change the settings for each section, or widget, by clicking the gear icon, and you can add new widgets by clicking the “Add widget” button in the top right corner.
In the Video Manager, we can add and edit videos and create playlists. You can also edit playlists and add a description to each playlist. The descriptions on your playlists are another searchable thing that can help Google find your videos, so it is very important to fill those out using keywords that you think people will search whenever they are looking for your videos. You can also add videos directly into a playlist from the Playlist section of the Video Manager.
Livestreaming is very important for YouTube channel growth, and you can create events in the Livestream section on the left-side navigation of your YouTube channel admin page. I have a full video tutorial on how to do that here. We’ll use this to make the screen recording in the last section of this article.
The Community section shows your messages and comments from viewers. You can directly engage with your audience in this section.
Under the Channel section, you should consider your Upload Defaults. I set my videos to automatically be private when I upload them, so that I can check everything out before the public sees it. I also set my default category to Education, since all my videos involve education in some way. We’ve already discussed why you should verify your channel under the Status and Features area of the Channel section, and I’ll cover the Featured Content, Branding, and additional Advanced options in another article. You won’t need to worry about these when you’re starting your channel, but they can be useful for encouraging action from your audience later on.
YouTube has a powerful and useful Analytics section that gives you insight into what’s working in your videos and channel as a whole.
The Create section has an Audio Library of music that you can use in your videos, just make sure you follow the instructions on certain songs that require attribution. There is also a Video Editor in the Create section that is built right into YouTube. It is not the best, but it can be used to line up video clips with audio backgrounds, apply effects, and create good looking videos. You can see my tutorial on using the YouTube video editor here.
TubeBuddy is a powerful add on that I use to optimize my channel. It will show what tags I’m ranking for and suggest tags for me. I go back and change my titles, descriptions, and tags from time to time to help them rank better and get more search hits.
Once your channel is verified, you can set up monetization and choose the type of ads you want to be shown on each video. If your video is over 10 minutes long, you can choose more types of ads and place ads to show multiple times in each video.
How to use YouTube as a free screen recorder
Screen recording is a powerful teaching tool for showing people how to do something on a computer. Most people don’t realize that you can record your screen quickly, easily, and for free with YouTube. First, click on your account icon in the top-right corner and select “Creator Studio.”
Select “Live Streaming” from the left-side navigation and click on “Events.” Then click “New live event” in the top-right corner.
For screen recording purposes, it’s best to set your live event to private. Otherwise, people can and probably will see it live. Select “Private” from the dropdown on the right side when you set up your event. Also, make sure that “Type” is set to “Quick (using Google Hangouts on Air)” because Google Hangouts has the screen sharing function we’ll be using. Then click “Go Live Now” at the bottom right to get started.
When Google Hangouts opens, choose the “Screenshare” icon on the left side. A window will open that lets you choose what you want to screenshare from the open programs on your computer.
Once you’ve chosen the program you want to share, go back to Google Hangouts and select “Start broadcast.” This starts the recording of the program you selected to screenshare in the last step. Now, record your screen and voiceover, and when you’re done click “Stop broadcast” on Google Hangouts.
After stopping your broadcast, you can close Google Hangouts and refresh your Video Manager in YouTube. Your video will be automatically uploading, and once it has finished processing, you can download it from YouTube or share it.
Now you’re ready to share videos and record your screen using YouTube!
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Canva is an online graphic design program with free and paid versions that lets you create professional graphics in almost any format quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:
Visit Canva.com and sign up with email, Facebook, or Google. The first screen you see will be the storage space for any designs you’ve worked on and saved, and it will show templates you can use to get started. If you don’t want to use a template, then click “Use custom dimensions” in the top right corner. Enter your desired dimensions in pixels, millimeters, or inches, and then you get a blank design to work with.
I like working with the templates, because there’s already so many to choose from and they are labeled with a recommended potential use such as “Facebook ad” or “eBook cover.” They even have templates for modern and professional-looking resumés, certificates, infographics, and more. I create my YouTube thumbnails and channel art directly from Canva templates–it’s easy and looks great!
In this example, we’ll create a book cover. Once you know how to bring in pictures and change fonts, you’ll realize just how easy it is to make professional graphics with Canva. Some of the templates are paid, but I tend to get by just fine with the free ones. Once you select the template, in this case a book cover, you can click on the text to change it. You can select different fonts and change the size and color of the text.
You can also delete whole text boxes from the text toolbar, or choose from a selection of other options to alter transparency, style, alignment and more using the dropdown arrow on the right side of the toolbar. This dropdown menu also lets you move the layer of text forward or backward to organize overlapping layers.
You can also easily copy a whole page by clicking the two overlapping squares outside the right side of your graphic. You can use this to work on two graphics at the same time with minor adjustments between them for testing what looks best.
It’s really easy to work with text in Canva. You can click the Text section on the left-hand menu and choose to add header, subheader, or body text. Or, you can choose from a selection of text designs complete with stylized fonts that look good together and even complementing borders and background shapes.
You can also add elements from the left-hand menu. These include icons, shapes, charts, grids, and photos. The elements menu also holds over 1,000,000 illustrations of everything from hot dogs to rocket ships, and you can search the descriptions to find the illustration you want. Elements include free and paid selections, but once you add any of them you can change the size, color, and opacity to make it work for your design. You can also move, resize, and rotate any layer using typical click and drag points on the frame of each layer.
If you double click on the background, you can see the whole background image, which is often larger than the design itself. You can that image around. When you’ve selected the background image, an image editing toolbar will appear below the image. You can use this to add a filter to the image and adjust how intensely you want that filter to enhance and alter it. You can also choose “Advanced options” and edit the levels of saturation, contrast, vignette, and more on the image. You can also crop images from this menu.
If you want to change the image on a template completely, just delete it and select Uploads on the left-hand menu. From here you can upload an image that is stored on your computer, or choose an image you’ve uploaded to Canva previously. You can also connect to your Facebook account and add images directly from Facebook. Another option is to navigate to the Elements section and choose from over 1,000,000 free and paid photos that are supplied by Canva. Just choose the one you want and drag it into your creation. With all images, you can edit the image levels like contrast, tint, and blurriness from right inside Canva, or you can add a filter.
Once you like what you have, you can share it immediately–directly from Canva. You can Tweet your image, post it to Facebook, email it, or copy a link to your image. You can also download the image in a variety of formats, such as JPG for web, high-quality PNG, standard PDF, or high-quality PDF for print material. You can also simply make your image public on Canva for other people to see on the website.
The free version of Canva is packed with useful tools, but if you’re creating a lot of graphics and purchasing a lot of items that aren’t free, it might save money to get a subscription for unlimited use of paid items. The subscription starts with a 30-day, free trial and costs $12.95 per month for the monthly subscription or $9.95 per month for an annual subscription.
Now you’re ready to create and share amazing designs using Canva!
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Prezi Next is the new online presentation software from Prezi that has useful and innovative features that let you present in a natural and engaging way. In this article, we’ll show you:
What if you didn’t have to slug through the memorization and step-by-step misery of a typical PowerPoint? We’ll show you how to use Prezi Next to beat the boredom and make a presentation that rocks!
First, get your topic and main points in mind, gather any photos, charts, or videos—yes videos!—you want to use in your presentation, and head over to http://prezi.com. Log in or sign up and select Prezi Next from the drop-down in the top left corner.
You’ll see a screen that houses all of your saved Prezi Next presentations and folders. Select “New presentation” or create a new folder in the left side navigation and then select “New presentation.” You can use folders to better organize your presentations by topic or audience.
Prezi Next comes loaded with a selection of customizable templates in various styles. Everything on these templates can be edited and customized. However, choosing the right template is important to save time, and usually your final presentation will reflect the structure of the template you choose.
You can see the structure and design of each template by clicking it and previewing it. You’ll be able to click through the arrows at the bottom of the screen, or click each topic to zoom to it and see what’s inside. When you’ve decided on a template to start with, click “Use this template” at the bottom of the screen.
In editor mode, you’ll see the overview. From the overview, you can double click the main topics to zoom into them and edit their content, or single click to edit their appearance in the overview. You can also select the main topics from the left-side navigation bar.
Whenever you begin editing a topic or subtopic, you can go back by clicking either the “Overview” button at the top left or the back button at the bottom left.
Whenever you are editing a topic, you can zoom to a subtopic by double-clicking, or single click to edit its appearance at the current topic level. Prezi Next features innovative subtopics called “planets” that give presenters the ability to jump around during a presentation by clicking on the information. Any information on the level of a planet topic will not be shown until the presenter clicks on it during the presentation. Planets give you the greatest flexibility with your presentation.
If you want to have planet subtopics, you’ll have to start with a main topic that allows planet subtopics. Click the “+ Topic” button and choose “Planet” to do this from the overview. Whenever you zoom into a planet topic, it will show the background around it and more planets can be arranged around the main topic.
You can also add stack topics and subtopics, which follow a traditional, linear presentation style. When you click on a stack topic in your presentation, the entire screen will be filled by that topic and your only choice will be to click through the slides in order.
You can add planet subtopics to planet topics, and you can add more planet subtopics to planet subtopics, going down as many levels as you like. You cannot add subtopics to stack topics or subtopics, however.
Once you have your information added with topics and subtopics laid out in the structure you want, it’s time to customize by changing colors, line thickness, and opacity of shapes. All you have to do is click on the element you want to edit and click the color palette on the tool bar at the top of the editor.
To change the background, simply right-click it and select “Background and theme.” This will open a right-side menu to upload an image for your background, or change the color and select solid fill or gradient.
One of the most used functions is the “Insert” menu. You can use this to add anything from text boxes, shapes, and images to YouTube videos and new topics. You can add any item to any level of your presentation, whether a video on the overview or an arrow in a subtopic. To add a video, click Insert —> Video, then choose to upload a file or enter the URL of a YouTube video.
Movement attracts attention, so adding animations can really make your presentation pop. You can animate any element of a presentation, or you can create a zoom animation that zooms to a smaller area of the presentation level you’re on. This is great for zooming into detailed charts to highlight information, or for moving in to showcase a photograph.
If you’re working with a team, you don’t have to do everything yourself! You can add collaborators to your presentations in Prezi Next and set their restrictions. Simply click the icon in the top right corner, click the “Total collaborators” button on the dropdown, and enter the email address and restrictions for each person on your team. You can allow members to view the presentation and leave feedback but not make changes, and you can allow presenters to present but not edit, keeping the power to make changes in the hands of your design team.
Make sure the cloud in the top-left corner shows a check mark, and if not, simply click it or select File —> Save to save your presentation.
Now, you can exit the editor tab and return to the screen that shows your folders and finished Prezis, including the one you just made. From here, you can click the pencil icon to edit, the play icon to present, or the arrow icon for many more options that include presenting online to a live audience and adding collaborators from outside the editor.
From this screen, you can also check viewer statistics that can give you insights on what content in your presentation is working and where you might be losing the interest of your audience.
You can also download your Prezi or use it on a smartphone or tablet through Prezi’s mobile app. This means that you could be walking around the room, presenting from a phone or tablet using Chromecast or Airplay to show the presentation on a larger display, while choosing exactly which parts of the presentation you want to show. This is incredibly powerful for engaging a live audience or group, as you can gauge their reaction, ask questions, and respond to questions in real time with a click or a tap, without having to step back 30 slides like you might with linear presentation software.
Now you’re ready to present. Simply click the big play button over the presentation of your choice and click present when it has loaded. Then, click or tap the first topic you want to discuss, and continue down through your subtopics until you’re ready to move back.
To move back, just click the small back up arrow at the bottom left of the screen. You’ll notice the left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen, but those are to step through your presentation in a linear order, and aren’t the best way to backup a level in a nonlinear presentation.
Now you’re ready to create and present dynamic presentations using Prezi Next!
LastPass is a free online password management tool that can be accessed through the web or as a Google Chrome extension. It provides many verified security features and allows you to store basically any secret or personal information. Categories exist for securing everything from payment info, web passwords, and social security numbers, to classified notes along with other sensitive information. Once an account is created with LastPass it can be synced across all mobile devices so that information is always available. LastPass offers many competitive features compared with other password management tools and is simple to operate, only having the user memorize a single master password.
The homepage for your LastPass account will be located within the LastPass “Vault”. Here you will be able to cycle through all of your stored secure information as well as add new information. All types of information can be neatly organized and categorized so they can easily be retrieved at a later time. LastPass offers an effective feature allowing you to share specific pieces of information with others via secure email. This is useful for items that are too sensitive to be sent through conventional methods. An emergency access feature exists to allow trusted individuals full access to your LastPass account in the case of an emergency. This will only be activated upon your approval.
The security methods used by LastPass are called AES-256 bit encryption, salted hashing, and PBKDF2 SHA-256. In short without technical explanation, these are a series of ciphers and encryptions which make it impossible for your LastPass account to be hacked, or viewed by LastPass admin. Using LastPass is 100% safe and secure.
As a Chrome Extension
If using LastPass in the form of a Google Chrome extension, It will appear as a little icon in the top-right of your browser. Upon being clicked, the LastPass icon will provide you with a variety of LastPass feature options. These include a link to your Vault, site and form-fill management, as well as a password generator among others. The extension simply provides quick access to the existing features which LastPass offers.
Advantages to Using LastPass
LastPass is one of the best free password management applications available for online use. While a paid $1 per month premium option is available, the free version offers almost all features that the average user would require. It is easy to use and provides a 100% safe method to store sensitive information with various provided features to ensure this. LastPass is great for the avid internet user in that it only requires you to memorize a single password. If you find yourself in need of an easy method to memorize passwords, etc., LastPass will, without a doubt, come in useful to you.
Grammarly as an App or Extension
Grammarly is an online tool available in the form of a web extension, as well as a web app. Its purpose is to help correct any grammatical and spelling mistakes made when doing a form of typing online, such as social media posts or written documents. Grammarly operates by outlining suggestions as you type a publication. This is done by either underlining a misspelled word, crossing out an unnecessary punctuation, etc.. It essentially aims to create a smoother, more professional sounding piece of writing.
As an extension on Google Chrome, Grammarly automatically begins making writing suggestions when it senses that you are typing a written piece. When it is enabled, the Grammarly extension appears as a green circle on the bottom right corner of your text box. It then highlights any potential mistakes and lists potential solutions. It can be disabled at any time. As a web app, Grammarly.com allows you to compose documents from scratch on its word processor, and upload or paste existing documents for refinement. Grammarly.com then provides editing suggestions for your document much like the web app would elsewhere on the internet. There are a few additional basic features also available on the Grammarly.com website.
While the free basic version of Grammarly is sufficient enough for the general use of most people, there is a paid premium version with advanced features. Some of these more advanced features include vocabulary suggestion and structural suggestions on your writing. With this version, you are also able to set which type of writing composition you are working on in order to get more specific tips (such as when writing an essay, blog, etc.). The premium version of Grammarly can be paid for as a monthly, quarterly, or yearly plan, with the monthly payment average ranging from $11.66 to $29.95 .
Grammarly is an effective way to get instant feedback on your writing when it comes to spelling and grammar. It is easy to install as a Google Chrome add-on or to use as a web app. For students, teachers, and professionals alike, Grammarly is an essential tool to incorporate into your web experience.
Prezi – Customize the Ultimate Presentation
Prezi is a unique and popular presentation software that is available in a free, public format, or a paid private version. Prezi can be effectively used in many situations, including business and education. With Prezi, you can completely customize the way that a visual presentation operates, and personalize it for any given scenario. It works like a blank canvas containing endless space where you can write content and paste images. These written segments and images are connected with a “path”, where you can set the order in which content is presented. You are then able to format the presentation however you wish.
Prezi offers many pre-made templates to base a presentation off of, but you are able to completely start from scratch. In Prezi you create and set the location of individual frames in the open space, where you may create written content or upload photos, videos, charts, etc.. The thing with Prezi is that there is no boundary to where you set the content. Once the actual content is finished, the method by which it is presented may be customized. This can be done by altering the viewpoint of the presentation at certain moments and adding animations to objects on the page. Colors and styles may be fine tuned to fit the occasion, and the background is entirely customizable. Prezi also offers many other individual features to create the perfect, specific look to a presentation.
Prezi presentations can be viewed or presented on all mobile devices, and can be worked on via the web or offline for computers. Premium versions of Prezi feature the ability to edit images to be used in presentations. All Prezi presentations are stored in the cloud, and can be accessed from anywhere. With Prezi, you are able to collaborate in real time on presentations with team members, which comes in useful for both business and education. Prezi offers great customer support to deal with concerns about the application, and also provides a Prezi blog so that users can constantly learn more about the capabilities of Prezi.
Prezi is a great way to personalize a presentation for any purpose you may need it for. It is completely customizable and offers a stylish and unique way to share information. Prezi is a new and interesting way to present, compared to conventional methods of providing information.
Any.do (free with in app purchases)
Any.do is a task management appliction available across many platforms, including Google Chrome, Android, Mac computers, and iOS devices. With it you have the ability to do simple daily planning and sync your schedule across all of your devices. It includes specific sharing features, allows you to set reminders within your day, and gives the option to make certain tasks as “recurring” throughout a specific time period.
Any.do utilizes a voice-to-type feature so that you can conveniently tell it which reminders and tasks you would like to set. Another useful feature offered within Any.do, is the ability to delegate tasks within a group of people or family. This is done by sharing a to-do list with selected people, and managing which person will do each task. Any.do is a unique, simple to use task management app which will help maximize collaberation and productivity in day-to-day life.
Check out this app at: http://www.any.do/
Google Keep (free)
Available for both Android and iOS, this entirely free productivity app will help you in areas from creating grocery lists to setting reminders of upcoming events. When creating lists, Google Keep allows you to check off every item as you go through your day, and keep track of remaining tasks or items. All notes, lists, and reminders can be color coded so that they may be quickly retrieved according to their specific purpose.
Lists and reminders on Google Keep can easily be shared with members of your Google contact list, making collaboration quick and simple. Along with planning your day and creating lists, Google Keep allows you to save pictures, notes, and audio recordings within its layout. This creates optimal organization of all ideas and planning, so they will never be lost. Google Keep is overall one of the simplest task management apps out there, but also one of the most user friendly and effective.
Check out this app at: https://www.google.com/keep/
Todoist (free with in app purchases)
Todoist, like most task management apps, provides your standard features including creating lists and setting reminders etc.. It is available for Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones, as well as most web browsers. Along with the others mentioned, it also allows you to share your created lists with other people so that you may collaborate on various tasks.
Unique to Todoist though, is its convenient smartwatch compatibility, which makes viewing current tasks and reminders quick and easy, while keeping you up to date on any other related notifications. Todoist is also unique in that it features a point reward system (called Karma) so that you may visualize your productivity trends. Todoist allows for you to customize the priority levels of each task, and also allows you to set recurring tasks within a time period. Through the use of optimal task organization and entertaining rewards system, Todoist provides a well rounded set of features to assist in your everyday lifestyle planning.
Check out this app at: https://en.todoist.com/
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