Creating a QuickTime Movie: Travel and Transportation
in the Eighteenth Century
"Dad, are we there yet?" Oh, how those words bring back memories! Whether you're a mature traveler or a young traveler, getting to your destination is often the high point of a trip. Twenty-first-century travelers are accustomed to high-speed travel on the highways or in the skyways, but eighteenth-century travelers had a different sense of speed. Clay Jenkins, a renowned Thomas Jefferson interpreter, once put the speed issue into perspective by telling an audience that "eighteenth-century travelers moved at about three miles per hour!" I think that is a great way to help students understand a society in which most peopled traveled on foot. The lead article in this month's Teacher Gazette, "Traveling the 18th-Century Landscape," gives many examples of the "who, why, how, and mode" of eighteenth-century travel. This month's Technology Tip explores one easy way to make some of this content fun to research and fairly easy for teachers and students to create and present.
The goal of this project is to create a movie that shows some modes of eighteenth-century transportation. When you visit a museum, be sure to snap a lot of pictures of objects that you know will be relevant to your curriculum such as wagons, carriages, and the people handling those vehicles. You can always use a 35mm or disposable camera and simply have the photos placed on diskette or CD when you they are developed. Doing so is affordable and will allow you and your students to easily import images into many applications. Of course, if you have a digital camera you're all set! When you have images placed on a CD, I suggest that you request a "master CD" as that will provide each image in five different image sizes, some suitable for the Web and others suitable for those 8" x 10" glossies you'll want.
Some of the images I've used are in the Colonial Williamsburg photographic collection, but images of this type are easy to find on the Internet. For example, the University of Michigan has a wonderful student-created site that features a "Build Your Own Carriage" activity (http://www.umich.edu/~ece/student_projects/coaches/). It allows you to create and print out a carriage of your choosing, but along the way it shows you many eighteenth-century carriages. It also has a comprehensive glossary that is very useful when it comes time to label your images. Just remember to download wisely, keeping in mind "fair use/educational use" guidelines. The International Museum of the Horse has some good images of colonial riders (http://www.imh.org/imh/kyhpl3a.html#xtocid5134). Some good ship resources are available at The Mariner's Museum (http://www.mariner.org/). [Note: If you are unsure about copyright, visit http://home.earthlink.net/~cnew/research.htm for current information for educators.]
Let's get started!
Whether you're a "one computer classroom" or have access to several computers, simply create a folder on the desktop labeled "Travel Images" and one labeled "Travel Sounds." When you and your students find images to use, save them in the images folder. Don't forget to name each image so you will remember what it is. Ask each student who saves an image to print out the Web page from which it was downloaded. That will make it easier to be "copyright not copywrong." One easy way to search for images is to use Google, click on the "Image" tab, enter "carriage" or "horse drawn carriage," and search. You can also effectively use Google to search for some Web sites that will provide free sound effects. One fun site is "People Sounds" (http://www.a1freesoundeffects.com/people.html). Simply download the free clips and save them in the "Travel Sounds" folder.
The next step is to begin assembling the project components. The end product will be a QuickTime movie. This project will use QuickTime Pro ($29.95 at http://www.apple.com) to create the entire presentation, but all of the images need to be the same size and resolution for the best result. You can adjust the size of your images in a photo editing application like Adobe Photoshop Elements ($49.95 at http://www.gradware.com), PowerPoint (Mac or Windows), or Keynote (Mac only) to create your presentation. This method will automatically give you images that are the same size and make it easy to add captions, credits, and citations.
This project uses PowerPoint to create the movie slides. Launch PowerPoint and create a blank presentation. Open or print one of the images that you especially like and notice the colors in it. In PowerPoint, choose "Format," "Background," and click on the arrow in the middle of the dialog box. Choose "Fill Effects" and click on the "Gradient" tab if it's not already selected. Click on the "Two Colors" radio button and experiment with the colors and gradient patterns until you find one you like. Matching your colors to a favorite slide image will give you a good start for visual consistency. Click "Ok" and "Apply to All." Now, go to the "Slide Sorter" view and select "Edit," "Copy." Then use the keyboard to create about a dozen slides by pressing the "Control" and "V" keys repeatedly. This will create plenty of slides to work with that are consistent in design, pattern, and color. Double-click on the first slide, choose "Insert," "Picture," "From File" and navigate to the image you would like to use for the title slide. Size your picture to your needs, add some title text, and move on to slide number two. Proceed in the same manner with all the images until you have a presentation that suits your project. Be sure to save your work as you go along.
Once you have completed the slides, choose "File," "Save as" and in the "Save as type" box choose either "JPEG" or "Tag Image" and click "Save." Answer "Yes" to save all the slides and make certain you're saving them somewhere you can find them, such as on the desktop.
Now you have a series of images, one for each slide, in the folder that Power Point created on the desktop. Launch QuickTime and choose "File," "Open Image Sequence." Navigate to the PowerPoint folder and click on image number one. Choose "Open" and then select either "5 seconds per frame" or "10 seconds per frame." When your movie is completed, it will be too large, so click on "Movie," "Half size."
Music and sounds can really punch up a movie so it is worth the time to add some to this project. You can add one musical piece to the whole movie (easiest), or a variety of sound clips to parts of the movie (hardest). The most important thing to know is the total length of your movie, so click on "Movie," "Get Movie Properties." In the new window you will see "Movie" on the top left and "Annotations" on the top right. Click on "Annotations" and choose "Time." The "Duration" will tell you the length of your movie.
Choose "File," "Open Movie in New Player," and navigate to one of your sound clips, a musical piece that you located on the Internet, or music extracted from an audio CD. PLEASE, be aware of copyright. A new Movie Player window will appear and you need to find out the length of the music or sound as you did above. You will want to select as much of the sound as you think will work with the movie project. If you're using just one piece of music for the entire movie, make sure that your sound clip is at least as long as your movie. If it's too long, that is fine. Open the "Get Movie Properties" window and drag the small triangle below the slider bar to the right. As you do the "Current Time" will increase. Just stop when you have about 3 seconds more sound than you need. Choose "Edit," "Copy," then go back to your movie and choose "Edit," "Add Scaled." That's it! Remember to save your movie!
Multiple sound clips work well if you have a variety of images for which they're suited. For example, I inserted some harpsichord music at the beginning of my movie and then a horse drawn wagon sound. There are two ways to do this. First, just follow the same directions as above, except you need to know the duration of each part of your movie. Size the clip you want to insert first to match the size of the first part of your movie. Do "Edit," "Copy," and this time choose "Edit," "Add" to insert sound clip number one. Repeat the process for each clip. You will have a movie with one video track and a series of sound tracks. This takes some fussy work, but can be quite effective. An alternative is to go back to PowerPoint and save the slides in groups instead of all at once. You would then have group 1 (which may be titles), group 2 (which may be horses), and so on until the last group (which may be credits). Create a movie for each group as described above, by opening an image sequence, adding the sound, and saving the movie. When you have completed the individual movies, remembering to make each on half size, open the title movie. Open the second movie and choose "Edit," "Select All," "Copy." Go back to the title movie and choose "Edit," "Add." Continue on for all the parts and you will have your movie completed. Save the movie!
The End Result
The newly created movie will be too large to put on a diskette or to e-mail, but you have a CD burner and creation software, you can burn several of movies to a CD-ROM. The movie can be reduced in size by choosing "File," "Export." Give the file a new name and, in the Export box, choose "Movie to QuickTime Movie." The Options box will offer a lot of options to make the movie smaller. I suggest clicking on "Video Settings" and using "Sorenson Video 3." You can experiment with the number of colors, stereo or mono sound, and so on to find the best compromise between size and quality.
This is a project that can begin small and simple and develop into more complex projects as your skills, and those of your students, increase. The difficult parts are to remember to save your work more often than you think you need to and to get permission to use image or sound assets you find on the Web or elsewhere.
QuickTime Pro is a powerful multimedia tool that is incredibly affordable.
You can delve into many layers of video production with this tool, which can
be used by anyone. If you want to really immerse yourself in QuickTime, check
out the free tutorials on the Apple site (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/tools_tips/tutorials/).
Click on the image below to play my movie "Travel and Transportation in the Eighteenth Century". The sample movie created for this project can be viewed by clicking below. I was only able to reduce the movie to 1.7 megabytes, so allow a few seconds for it to download and begin playing. In order to view it you will need the free QuickTime Player.
This article was written by Dale Van Eck, Associate Producer Education Technology, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.