Select Page

Motion Physics Movie Series

New Motion Physics Movie Project

I just got a new program that brings me back to my childhood! It feels like Christmas and the joy of opening new presents under a tree! It’s called Camtasia! I’m busy researching, creating, and editing a new 5 part video series. I like to research what I teach, taking in all of the nuances, constantly asking questions of contemporaries and scouring the internet finding the answers to why things do the things they do within the content of my curriculum. This leads me to a much deeper understanding of the material.

Next is write out a script. I got the two column [Vid Effects – Script] format idea from a Camtasia tutorial. I used to just write them out long hand back when I made the videos about space distances and age of old things. This makes much more sense. It gives me better leverage over what I’m planning to do before I do it. No doubt these videos are going to be much more organized, and sharper because of it!

The program itself is extremely powerful! It gives me nearly as much control over sound editing as Garage Band, I can stretch out the time or shorten a clip, make louder, softer, and fade out. It also gives me a great deal of control over images and videos! I remember years ago being amazed by a Power Point feature that allowed the user to move a picture around the page and “record” this movement so that you could include an object changing in your document. This feature is in Camtasia, only perhaps even stronger. You can use “animation” and move the arrow shaped icon onto the timeline, and you just go up to the canvas and adjust your object however you want and the program will record your every move. On playback it does what you want. If you watch the tutorials, it works exactly as shown! In Camtasia, you can also “record” what you do on your desktop. I used to use TechSmith’s smaller program made specifically for this task called Jing, which then changed Jing Pro – then Snagit. Amazingly all of the features of Snagit seem to be incorporated in Camtasia. I’ve got a stylus that I sometimes use to draw, graph, or illustrate concepts, into another display program that I use at school. Some of this will be used in the series.

Surprisingly, there’s a “green screen” feature, where, not only can you remove a color to provide a transparent background around the subject in an image, but you can also do this in a video! So, you can film yourself talking or presenting, and place yourself in front of a different backdrop. I’ll be using this feature in several spots throughout the Motion Physics series. I realized pretty quickly that I’d need a new digital camcorder, so it should be arriving on Thursday this week. Another Christmas moment. Yay!

The only thing I have used to compare to this program is I Movie, which I’ve used and enjoyed for about 5 years. This program is a really big step up from my beloved tried and true Mac’s genius. Thanks to The district for inviting the Google Summit this year to Monarch High, to TechSmith for presenting at the Summit where I got to see this program in action for the first time, and my principal for recognizing my enthusiasm and knowing that I’ll put it to good use, thus buying my copy. Ultimately my students will get most of the benefit!

Project Timeline

Sep 12 – 17th (Boulder’s 100 year flood, out of school 6 days)

Produced Script.

After seeing all of the video tutorials, taking notes, and reviewing several of them again, I noticed there was a way to save your favorite colors, thus creating a common color pallet. Pretty handy since I’m trying to make 5 videos that will need the same background, and color features throughout. Decided to make it with the same pallet as my website! Let’s just keep it all similar! People that are familiar with my website will get it.

Figured out an intro sequence that will be included in each of the 5 videos. I’ll use the first track from my own CD Animal Dreams as a common intro. BTW, I’ll also use a music sequence that will sort of brand the ending of each video, like the old radio style. It’s “Get your Samba off my Mambo” by Bushtic, a band I was in many years ago. It’s really catchy, so it’ll be a cool way to end each video. I got sick Friday night, and still my voice isn’t ready to record the voice track. I’m going to do it all at once, so I’ve got to be firing on all cylinders! It’s a long one! In the meantime, I went as far as I could go into the first video without the voice overlay. Here it is!


After getting as far as I could with that. I looked through the script to see what else I could do before recording voice. There are several sequences of concepts that I wanted to illustrate that would demand some creative illustration. One of these was a comparison between a bat hitting a ball with the ball coming in fast, and the bat hitting it coming from the other direction, versus a bat hitting a ball that is already moving in the same direction as the ball. This would show why it isn’t speed or velocity that matters in the Force formula F-MA, but Acceleration – A. I usually just bring this up in class as a thought experiment, but having a nice illustration will surely help. So, being a huge Mythbusters fan, it dawned on me that I could use my likeness character that Helpful Nerd made for my website. I could Photoshop off the head, and like Mythbusters, use my own body parts to show the impact physics. Kids you’ll love this! So here’s what I came up with:



The other thing that needed to be Illustrated in the similar Mythbusters style is the concept of how weight differs from Mass. This can be done by showing how one’s own weight is much less on the moon, and much greater on Jupiter. So, here’s what I’ve got on this one so far:


– Already added a new feature since these last video updates tonight. Added drop shadows to the characters and objects in the bat/ball sequences, and in the gravity/planet sequences.

– In keeping with the cartoonish flair for the illustrations, it makes more sense to have cartoon weights pushing down the character than those big arrows detracting from the main action of these sequences. So, I took out the arrows and put in weights. Found the pic online, changed color, made transparent background, added to the timeline, created all new animations. That took all of about 30 minutes!! I’m getting much more efficient! Time well spent on these flood days off! I think you’ll agree, this is much better!


– Now I’m considering an alternate, where instead of math on those large tiles, I just have the name of the celestial body. That’s because these will be shown so quickly, and I’m talking about it behind the scene. Too much for the eye to pick up. You’ll see it in the final production. };-D

– You know how there’s a lion’s roar at the beginning of each movie made by Metro Goldwyn Mayer? Well, I took that concept, and made my little head on the bottom left of the intro do a roar. But used a sound clip of a seal roaring to add a little humor in the opening sequence.

– Made new script for Filming I need to do at school. There’s more room and better lighting there for the green screen sequences, and I need to film two different experiments in operation.

– Website failure right when I go and promote all this on Facebook. Interesting timing. Until now WordPress has worked without fail. 🙁

New opening sequence. lighter background to match my website. I really don’t know why I didn’t change it sooner. It’s the easiest tweak to make in the program. With lighter background felt it needed a font width change to bold face:

Weekend Sep. 21st-22nd

– Yesterday the camera was delivered! It’s a Sony HDR CX220. I think it’ll suit my needs quite nicely. For the last few nights I couldn’t get on the website for my normal nightly geek session, so I tweaked a few things on the Earth/Moon/Jupiter sequence. Got pictures of the Earth, Moon, and Jupiter that had greater pixel depth, so I could focus in with better quality, and added a little cartoon boing sound for the jumping on the moon. Made the signs smaller so they don’t detract from the action, took out the math that really doesn’t add to the idea of more gravity with a more massive planet.

– The illustration of the bat and ball where the bat and ball are almost going the same speed, but is fast, needed to be changed from slow-mo to fast. That means that I had to redo that animation. Need to have them travel all the way across the screen quickly: Bat Head Speed

– Since I wanted to play with my new camera, I tried to do a “green screen” pendulum in order to create a realistic swinging pendulum in the pendulum scene where the string doesn’t have to be as long over the poles as over the equator to get the same period. Boy that was a dumb idea! Way too may shadows, even with three lights. That tutorial about green screen filming was right to warn you not to move for green screen shots. So, I resorted to going to an internet picture illustration. Made it swing with animation over the North pole, then the equator.


– Still can’t record voice. So, with a looming deadline approaching, I’ve got to to use every spare minute productively. So, Went back to the “equatorwide” animation to get it working right. Added arrows to illustrate the greater length of a pendulum at equator to match the period swing at the pole. I’m proud of the timing of this animation. Time well spent!

– I think, this might be the last animated illustration that I’ll need for this first video in the series! It’s a comparison of two objects, the fact that they fall at the same rate, and why:

– I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with that last one yet. I want the crowder image dropping the earth to jiggle, not just rock back and forth. I’m thinking what I might do is use the same animation, add a time track, squeeze it really tight, and re-paste it back in between segments.

– Finally felt good enough towards the latter part of the afternoon to record the voice track for the Acceleration Due to Gravity Video:


I like them totally dry like this, since it gets stuck in with background music. On a side note, I used markers for the first time, since I don’t know exactly when we’ll record the string Freefall experiment. I left a space there that’s exactly how long my voice covers that topic.

– Sunday night, after recording the voice track, amazingly I’m able to complete the majority of the first video! I put in track markers for the absent string drop segment. Still need to add my green screen intro sequence, something about mass and inertia at the very end, and rolling credits. Other than that, all other tracks are in there in a very close to finished form! Amazing how quick the work went since I had already done most of the illustration segments and previously downloaded most of the files I needed. So here it is in its 85% finished form!

Acceleration Due to Gravity Video

Sep 24th

Okay, I’m getting close! Here’s the latest version, that includes several tweaks like a few background sound adjustments like the second time the globe gets dropped, since it moves slower, it makes sense that the sound it would make would be softer. There should be a shadow behind the Crowder in the airplane when it goes by. Took out the part about the earth getting protruded in the middle due to its spin. An unnecessary addition that didn’t match the voice track and took away from attention to the details at hand. Also I added a segment about a real train taking off from start compared to a toy train to illustrate how inertia plays a role in how things with different masses are effected by gravity.


Sep 27th

– I’ve done a great deal of micro-managing the movie in the past few days. On Wed. I had three of my Science Club kids film the string drop from the roof of the school. I have looked at two of them, and will probably use one of them. The sound of the washers hitting is actually audible enough to include in the final edit of the movie! I’m pleasantly surprised by that. Also, I’ve been working yet another animation of the falling washers, but it’s proving to be really troublesome. I don’t know if it will make it in the final edit. Fixed a few things, like the movement of the Crowder character after the second big ball drops – much quicker and more edgy. Switched colors on a few callouts from the red tone to the dark green. Added the word “inertia” on the second globe drop to better drive home the point. Had to use white shadowing for it to stand out on the globe’s surface. Added Nasa’s beep sounds to the space section. Tightened up the rolling credits at the end. Tomorrow I’m going to buy a cape and beard at the Halloween store for the green screen filming. Going to do that last bit of filming on Monday (Actually all the green screens for all 5 videos of the series in one session). Already have a student willing to do it after school Monday. I’d like to have all of the String drop section finished by this weekend. That leaves all of next week to finish the whole thing! Yay!

Sep 29th

Got the cape and beard props yesterday at Boulder’s biggest Halloween supplies store – “The Ritz”. I’m psyched because now, not only am I ready to film all of the green screen parts to all 5 videos, but I’ve got a new Halloween costume! Fiddled and cajoled over the last two days, mostly with the missing string drop section. I think it’s pretty much ready now.. Changed up a few callout colors and added a black hole that spins the Jupiter scene out and into the inertia/planet/8 ball drop sequence.

accelduetograv – almost complete form!

Oct 1st

Submission Date! I just did the Green Screen for all the five videos today! Had the scripts. Got together all of the props. Kevin from Science club stayed after school, and helped film it! He really helped a bunch with many great suggestions! Yesterday I tried various rooms painted with different colors. Nice solids, but nothing worked! I think they may have been too shiny. Today I brought a forest green sheet from my guest bedroom and tacked it to a bulletin board. This worked perfectly! So, here it is folks in all its glory!

Oct 5th

This is probably one of the final edits of the second in the series on Motion Physics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

The Counselors took over my classroom with a lesson on study habits on Friday. So, I took this donation of time to get a start on the second one. Knowing that it was one of the smallest in the 5, it was dangling like bait to get a nice shine and ready to be submitted to Screen Champ Awards under the due date. This is Saturday night, and I’ve been working on this for two days. For a while I thought I’d risk a copyright question with a tune I really like by Lazaro Ros from Cuba, but thought the better of it. I ended up with a great 13 piece band called Kachimbo from Cuba and produced by David Peñalosa of Bembe records. He’s one of my music teachers and friend of mine, so it’s a much safer bet.. I think this piece fits better anyway! So love it!

Oct 8th

Now working on the third video of the series – Force. So here’s what I ended up for the intro sequence where I green screen a character – the Lord Emperor with a light saber. Took out the green background, then copied the track, and selected the red of the saber and inverted the remove a color effect. This removes everything but the red. Then paste that track over the top of the first one. Then, I adjust the color of the saber with Glow, and Color adjustment.

Oct 12th

Probably the final edit of the third in the series – Force


Nov 11th – Veteran’s Day

The fourth one! Simple Machines

I got a pop-up green screen from CowboyStudio on Amazon. I’ll use it from now on for my green screen needs. Easy up and down since it pops out really big then folds back into a third of its size with one swift move. I discovered a way to use my slate scribing onto the SMART board at school and get the video to my computer. I have to get the wmv file and upload it to youtube, then I can download it again as an m4v, which is what I need for editing. Then, I discovered that a nice alternative to the white board is to chroma-key out the white so that the writing hovers above the background. I kind of like that better than scribing straight onto white. Just one more video to go!!

Nov 28th – Thanksgiving Day

This is it! the fifth and final video of the series! It’s been a long, hard, and very educational road!