Star in your own short movies


Star in your own short movies
Mac Tip #471, 26 January 2011

Almost every Mac these days includes a tiny camera that can record stills or movies. Your Mac comes with several applications that can make use of this iSight camera. This Tip shows you how to make a simple movie using Quicktime.

How much easier to record a quick movie to send to friends or family, or perhaps to record a daily journal or diary as a movie, rather than typing it all out. QuickTime Player 10 makes it incredibly simple.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrcnJ-uiJSY

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Find the built-in iSight camera

The built-in iSight camera.

The built-in iSight camera in my MacBook Pro. The enlargement shows it close-up: microphone, camera and recording light.

Most modern Macs come with a tiny iSight camera built in to the top of the screen.

I have a 2010 model MacBook Pro, shown in the photo in this post. I’ve enlarged the relevant portion of my computer monitor and added it to the photo, so you can see the camera, microphone and recording light in close-up.

The green recording light is showing because I had Photo Booth open on screen.

On your Mac the microphone may be somewhere else, such as underneath a speaker grille. You’re not likely to see the recording light until you actually open up an application that uses the camera.

QuickTime Player 10

QuickTime Player 10 is open.

QuickTime Player 10 is open.

QuickTime Player 10 can record movies for you. Earlier versions of QuickTime Player probably cannot.

Open your Applications folder and look for QuickTime Player.app. Double click it to open it. When it opens it may not open a new window. Instead you’ll see that the Menu Bar changes, showing QuickTime Player next to the Apple menu.

About QuickTime Player.

About QuickTime Player.

To check the version of QuickTime Player choose QuickTime Player from the Menu Bar and select About QuickTime Player. A window appears that includes the version number.

Record a movie

Go to QuickTime Player 10′s File Menu and choose New Movie Recording. A recording window opens, showing whatever your iSight camera sees, with a Movie Controller near the bottom of the window. The green light for your iSight camera should also light up.

To start recording press the round red Record button in the Controller.

Speak loudly and clearly, so the built-in microphone will pick up what you say. Look at the camera as you speak.

Ready to record.

Ready to record.

When you’ve finished, press the square black Stop Recording button in the Controller. The movie is automatically saved in your Movies folder, with a name like: Movie Recording.mov.

Video files are encoded using the H.264 format. That’s a good quality format that most modern computers can play. In my experiments a 15 second movie was around 1 megabyte in file size. That’s easy to email. In fact, even files up to around 5 or 6 megabytes are easy to email these days.

Remember to rename the file to something more meaningful before you send it off or file it for future reference though.

In future Tips: there’s more you can do, choosing the quality of the video, trimming ‘junk’ off the ends, sharing videos via YouTube or iTunes. We’ll show you how to do those things too.

How I’m using this in real life

One thing I like to do at the end of every work week is a review of what I’ve done, where I’m up to and how I’m progressing towards my goals. In the past I’ve done this with lists, and writing things. Before I know it I’m getting all tied up with commas and categories and nitpicking points. I think that’s just a way to avoid doing the real review work.

This year I’m doing a quick video review of the week. It’s just for me, so it doesn’t have to be all professional. I find it’s easy to say a few words about what’s going on and I don’t get sidetracked into unimportant minutiae.

When I’ve finished the recording I move the file to a special folder, just for reviews, and name it like this: 20110113-weekly-review.mov. The first part is the date as year – month -day, making it easy to sort.

Tell us in the Comments at the website how you’re using short videos made with Quicktime Player.

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One Comment;

  1. Vivian said:

    Thanks for this! I’m want to make video clips to send to my 90 year old mother, but the thing is she doesn’t have a computer. She has a DVD player but I’ve found that there are compatibility problems, so recordings I make on my DVD player are not playable on some other DVD players. Is there some format I can use when making clips as you suggest, which are playable on all makes of DVD players?

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