The Desktop

I started out with this project using my 2014 iMac 5k. It’s a pretty nicely specced out machine particularly for the time, a 4GHz 4-core i7 with 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD drive. About as good as it got back in 2014. I think it was the first year of the slimline iMacs. But for video production, there are a few bottlenecks with this machine. One is the editing and encoding, both of which take a long time with files in the tens of gigabytes size. 1TB isn’t much to work with either, once you get those large files, so you have to work across the network to a NAS of some kind, and then the 1Gbit/s network also gets in the way. I could alleviate that somewhat with a Sonnet 10 Gb ethernet interface for Thunderbolt 2, getting around 250-300 MB/sec. I guess you see where this is going…

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The Files

When you record a lot of material, the file storage quickly turns into a major problem. Consider that ScreenFlow, when recording from the computer screen, an iPad, and from the webcam1, produces some 20-30 GB per hour of recording. The video camera additionally produces 20-25 GB per hour of recording at 1080p, 30 fps.

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The Laptop

I’m not calling this post “The Computer” as I originally intended, and that’s because there are two computers involved. The laptop Hania uses for recording, and the desktop I use for editing. Both these machines deserve individual consideration. There’s that, and also, my desktop is still waiting to be replaced with a new one, so I don’t know the ending of that particular story.

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The Software

To do these courses, you need some software to record both yourself and any presentation you show on your computer.

Initially, this whole thing started with the Covid-19 pandemic, where the university switched over to distance learning. The first solution to this was using Zoom, since that’s what the university uses, and frankly, it’s the software that works best. At least if you’re not too worried about the security of it. On the other hand, there aren’t all that many security risks associated with online lectures.

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The Captions

This post is severely out of chronological order, since working with captions is more or less the last thing you do when publishing a course. It’s what I’m doing now, and believe me, it’s the least fun part and the part taking the most time (except for actually preparing and recording the course material, but that’s not my problem; Hania did all that).

The way this works with Udemy is that once you’ve created your entire course and uploaded it, you can ask the system to generate captions for the videos. They’re using speech-to-text for that, and it’s amazingly good. It’s almost perfect, but that “almost” is the problem. It may be great for a cooking course, and if the speaker is a native American, but mathematics… not so much.

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The Space

In this era of working from home, doing everything online, Hania (my wife) has started producing online material for her students.

Initially, this was simply Zoom recordings which were then published on the university servers for the students, but we tried to up the ante a bit by producing her lectures beforehand.

After a while of this, we decided to go the full commercial online teaching route by producing courses for Udemy. The first of those courses was made public just two days ago. If you click that link you get to the course’s page on Udemy, and you get a low price if you decide to buy it. If the coupon has lapsed, look for later blog posts, since it needs to be updated every month.

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