Mozilla Popcorn – Yeah this is pretty sweet

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Mozilla (you know those people-they make Firefox) has created a few webmaker tools (you can find the whole suite here). The one that I am most interested in is Popcorn Maker. Spoiler alert: this service does NOT make you popcorn but it will let you take a video and really enhance it. This is something that a lot of teachers have been waiting for. You can remix, edit and enhance videos on the web. It’s hard to summarize in a single paragraph exactly what this does so I encourage you-no I implore you to click on past the break and see what I am so excited about.

As I mentioned above, This only works with web video/audio. When you get to PopcornMaker you get the choice of starting a new project or going through the tutorial. I highly suggest the tutorial. It is fast, easy to understand and it is interactive. You’re not just sitting there watching, you actually get to try your hand at it.

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If you want to dive right in go ahead and click Start a project. When you do it will take you the work area. Let’s break down what each part is.

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Area 1 – This is obviously the preview area. There is where you watch and see your enhancements. Things like textbooks, wikipedia popups and so it can be moved around and resized.

Area 2 – This is the timeline. For a free web based program this is surprisingly powerful. You can add as many layers as you want to keep all your enhancements organized. All of your enhancements will also show up here. You can move them, extend them and even delete the layers.

Area 3 – Here you can add your media, add your Events and even share it (once you save it first).

So let’s get started.

PopcornMaker only works with web based video or audio, so all you need is a link to the media you want to enhance. Once you have that link copied click on Media and paste it in and click Apply.

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Your media will show up in the timeline. You may notice that there are some other things in the timeline already. They are just helpful little tips to get you started and you can easily delete them.

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Simply hover your mouse over the Layer and click on the trashcan. Go ahead and delete them all, don’t worry your main media will not be deleted as it is not on any of the layers (this is so you can’t accidentally delete it-see I know you’re liking this already).

Adding Events to your timeline
This is the fun part. The events are on the far right side. and as you can see you have quite a bit to chose from and I am sure that more are on the way. Check then out below.

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To add them to the timeline, just click and drag it over to the timeline. Now how easy is that? As you can see below I am adding a Popup to my timeline. Don;t fret if it is not exactly where you want it. PopcornMaker gives you some easy ways to move it around.

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Once it is on the timeline you can move it around and (this is cool) if you click one end of the event you can change the duration of it.

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Pretty handy for quick changes. Once you select that event on the far right hand side you will see that the event list is replaced with options for that specific event.

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For this event I can change the font, add a hyperlink, change the type, add sound and so on. In the preview window you can physically change the location of the event, the size and even double click inside and change what it says. PopcornMaker gives you tons of options. I think you get the idea.

Saving
You can use PopcornMaker without an account. HOwever, if you want to save a project, you will need a Persona login. This is Mozilla’s one login for multiple services. Think of it like a Google ID. With your Google ID you can easily sign in to a number of services. Persona is similar in that regards.

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Once it is saved you can easily access it and remix it however you want.

Sharing
Once you have saved it, you can share it with others. Just click on Share and PopcornMaker will give you a bunch of ways to share it. You have a link, you can embed it, you can even tweet it, share it on Google Plus. I’d love for you to share it here but WordPress.com does not allow iframes to be embedded into their sites.

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Now here is the cool part. When someone views your video-they have the ability to remix it themselves. Not bad huh? That way people can enhance, remix, share, enhance, remix, share, etc. Thus giving teacher, students and administrations a chance to remix and make lots of videos that suit their particular needs. Thus making videos online more flexible and allowing others to use those videos for their own specific needs. Clever huh?

Uses in the classroom
I love the TED videos. I mean who doesn’t right? One thing I don’t love about them is their time requirements. If I have a class for 40 minutes having them watch a 15-25 minute TED talk can sometimes eat more time than I am willing to sacrifice. With PopcornMaker I can actually have it skip over, repeat, make special note of certain events and much more.

It is also a great way for students to easily shoot daily announcements, and then have them add pop ups like the nightly news. No green screen, not much post production. Just shoot the video, upload and then remix/enhance it with PopcornMaker.

To be clear, this isn’t going to replace your iMove, MovieMaker or whatever program you use to edit video. What it does do is give you an easy and powerful way to enhance it. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is a pretty new project from Mozilla and it is clear they have put a lot of time and effort into creating it, which leads me to believe that they are far from finished with this bad boy. I predict we can expect more features, smoothing out the rough edges and the ability to share it in even more ways to come.

Hey, don’t take my word for it, check out PopcornMaker for yourself. It’s free to use and you don’t need an account to use it.

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About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
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