I’ve been playing around with different ways of creating visuals, and I’ve spent some time with the Genee Vision 150 an entry level (£250) document camera – or more appropriately, a Visualiser!
The blurb on the Genee website tells you what it is:
“The Genee Vision 150 is a digital ICT presentation and teaching resource that directly connects to a P.C. and/or Interactive Whiteboard, Projector or LCD screen. It can pick up any kind of material, whether it be photographs, books or 3D objects effortlessly and provides a high resolution output signal for video and data projectors, monitors or interactive whiteboards. It has a range of features including, a 2 mega pixel CMOS camera, auto-focus, rotating head to capture images from different angles, 4x optical zoom and 10 x digital zoom and USB port.”
However more interestingly (and the way I prefer to utilise the hardware in the office), you can record the video and then manipulate the footage in any basic video editing software. In doing this, you can create hand-drawn videos.
The key factor with this visualiser is the position of the camera – the camera can point above the page you are working on, and allow you to easily film sketching and writing. With the visualiser set up in this way, you can quickly create quirky animations with surprising ease.
This particular Genee visualiser has an external light source that keeps the working area well lit – improving the video capture. Some of the higher spec visualisers have backlit working areas, which would give greater results – but could restrict your working area.
For the short piece I created above, I opted for Windows Live Movie Maker to capture and edit my footage; speeding up the film is a simple case of selecting the appropriate speed from a drop down box. I then used Brainshark to upload, add music to, and share the animation – a very quick process!
Now, is the Genee Vision 150 the way to go for animated visuals? I’m not sure. The camera is aimed at the teaching profession and its robust build demonstrates this, however the video quality isn’t fantastic and you can’t adjust the height of the camera much, so it can limit your working space. You could easily pick up a video camera and tripod to achieve better results (we will talk about this at a later date!) – add a light box and you’d be producing dynamic hand-drawn animations in no time.
The interesting thing for me regarding the use of a document camera is that you get a very unique end result – actual video of drawings coming to life. Watching pictures take shape is very engaging (reminds me of Rolf Harris – ‘can you tell what it is yet?’). Using this filmed technique in a standalone animation piece could be really powerful.
As with anything like this, you’ll definitely need some natural ability (and patience) to produce animations that are impressive, particularly if you wanted to use the animation created in a professional setting – i.e. your company homepage. If you wanted to create an animation piece that was standalone (like the Volkswagen TV advert) using a visualiser (and some creative talent!) will give you this option.
This type of animation would be perfect for lead generation and if you don’t own a visualiser or have the time and creative talent, BrightCarbon’s Dynamic Animation service would be the best place to start if you were interested in producing an animation for your own website. [Editor's note - Karl doesn't typically create those animations, or wear nail polish.]
Overall the two things I’ll take away from this experiment; always try something new (it’s pretty fun) and doing something different, whether it’s hand-drawn, interactive or just a little left of centre, will help engage your audience a lot more effectively than a standard bullet point filled presentation.