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University of Colorado Denver

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Preparing Videos for Inclusion into Canvas


The Work Flow

  • Storyboard the Idea
  • Write the Script
  • Prepare the Presentation
  • Shoot the Video or Narrate the Slides
  • Edit the 'Movie' and Prepare for YouTube
  • Upload to YouTube (or other media server site)
  • Include in Canvas

The first step is to plan your presentation. Think about what you want to achieve with this project. What resources do you have. Equipment and software needed, experience with the hardware and software.

Storyboard the Idea

Although there may be high end Hollywood style software for this task you can use pencil and paper, a simple text editing program (Notepad/TextEdit) or presentation software like Powerpoint or Keynote. It's a matter of organizing the message you want to convey. Describing the resources you will need. Script, actors, props. The script could be written using the text editor with indent for the actor/prop placement. The speaker notes area of a Powerpoint/Keynote presentation works well for script placement. The slides can be the props. You can include graphics and video into the slides as needed.

Write the Script

I like to work from a script. It cuts down on the audio/narration re-takes. This might not be practical for longer presentations but you might consider breaking those longer sessions into four to eight minute segments.

Prepare the Presentation

Gather props. Prepare the slides.

Shoot the Video or Narrate the Slides

This can be done with a dedicated camcorder, a phone camera or even a laptop computer camera. You might want to use a green or blue screen as the back ground. It can be relatively easy to edit the video and replace the green/blue screen another still image or video. It is worth checking your video editing software for the best color to use if want to try this. It is best to keep the individual clips short, maybe a minute or two at most.

If you are going to use a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation you can narrate the slides using your computer microphone or a separate mike. Pick a quiet place. Maybe not too big. A quiet office could work well. The audio can be adjusted if needed and sounds tracks added with software like GarageBand, Audacity, or Sound Forge. Careful you can get lost in these programs with all their options. You might only need a little filtering and maybe add a sound track although the sound track can also be added while editing the video.

Both Keynote (Mac) or Powerpoint (Windows) provide the ability to narrate the presentation and save the result as a video file. For Keynote go to the first slide and in the Inspector:Document:Audio click on the Record button. Narrate each slide using the arrow key to go to the next slide in the presentation. Press 'esc' or the red stop button to finish.


Export as a Quicktime movie and chose the settings below.



The process with Powerpoint is similar. Choose Start Recording from the Slide Show menu.



When finished note the addition of the speaker icon to indicate an audio clip.


When you save the presentation choose MPEG-4 Video. It can take some to time to produce the video file with the narration. Patience although you should look for errors messages if it takes too long. Too long? Depends on the presentation and computer but tens of minutes might be expected


Edit the 'Movie' and Prepare for YouTube

The video may be complete at this point however you may want to convert the format before uploading to YouTube. If the audio and video are out of sync Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on the Macintosh can be used to change the length of the audio or video tracks. They can also be used to add titles, transitions or a sound track. Details of these processes could be the subject of another tutorial. These programs can also be used to produce a video file in the optimum format for YouTube. The suggestion is Video Parameters: Compression type - H.264, Frame rate - 30 fps, Data rate - Automatic, Key frames - Automatic, and Frame reordering - unchecked and Audio Parameters: Format - AAC and under advanced settings choose Constant bit rate as the encoding strategy. Also chose the original size and prepare for internet streaming.

Upload to YouTube

You will need to have or have access to a YouTube (Google) account to upload the video. Once you log into the account there should be an upload button at the top of the page. The default limit is 15 minutes but this can be increased. Clicking on the upload button will (eventually) lead to the upload page.


You can select the file and drag and drop it onto the area with the big arrow. At this point you can set the Privacy option although you can edit this later. The choices are Public, Unlisted or Private. Private restricts access to up to 50 Google account members. This might be too restrictive for class work although sharing a purpose set-up account could be shared with students for their access. Unlisted is another option for semi-private videos. In this case the video can be seen by anyone but it is not searchable. This means they will need the 'complex' url (web address) to find the video. You can embed this url into your Canvas module for student to access it. The third option is public. You may be quite happy to have your video made public and this makes the video searchable and easily available to include in your Canvas module.

After the video is uploaded you will receive an email with the video url and it will also appear in the video manager area.


From here you can edit the video settings including Privacy, Title and Description. You can select the thumbnail image you want to display on the webpage. Note also the video url in the right column beside the video. Copy this url for the next step.


Include in Canvas

Once in Canvas navigate to the module or content area in which you want to include the video clip. Select 'Edit this Page'. Enter text and other content and when ready to insert the video click on the Link to URL icon


This will open a new window with a place to paste the url you copied from the YouTube upload.


Make sure you d​elete any other text in this field before pasting the url or you will get unexpected results. Canvas will recognize the url as a YouTube link and display the YouTube icon with a thumbnail image for the video, remember setting that above in the YouTube video manager. Click on the Insert Link button.


Save changes and you will see the module as it will appear to the students.



This is a long tutorial and there can be quite a bit more to it or there may be steps you can leave. Please let me know if you need help with this or you find sections that could be improved. David Bourne (david.bourne@ucdenver.edu)

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