Videos for and

Interview yourself using avatars

A web broadcaster can now put together a TV news or talk show with a laptop and a Dictaphone. Artificial voices and avatars allow for multiple characters and interactions without considering lighting, chroma (green) screens, weather, sore throats, or even global locations. The program can be assembled from audio (mp3) files. The rest is done with voice-synch animation and text-to-speech.  Sound tracks and virtual sets such as news desks allow the show to attain some of the look and feel of broadcast television. The limitation is now less the technology and, as ever, the artistry of the producer to make it interesting. Public domain archival movie footage and sound clips are widely used in commercial news and documentaries. Web broadcasters can now access abundant such resources.

This particular broadcast topic was chosen so as to avoid having to later explain any contradiction between its media and its message. The interview is done using digital technology such as artificial voices and avatars. However, the punch line of the interview contains strong warnings about use of such resources in classrooms.  The main reason is time – a precious resource too easily overlooked in the dash to digital futurama. The text of the interview took about 14k. The mp3 audio 3000k. This blows out to 29,000k when converted to a movie. That is the symptom. The problem is that the editing work blows out nearly in proportion –ie- cutting and and re-assembling  sound bytes and visual images takes time and organisation.

So why bother? Well, the time we save is not ours but rather that of the viewer. A good documentary can make a quick and lasting impact. A book requires you to sit still and concentrate. A TV show can be watched while cooking, ironing ..etc.

We’re talking here about the revolutionary potential for an individual carrying a TV studio in a briefcase – or maybe hidden in their shirt! No need for a 4 wheel drive with a satellite dish on top stuffed with cameras and a safari-clad film crew with lighting equipment.

The potential of the avatars is scary. Besides their anonymity the information can be transmitted as mere text scripts and still images to someone on the other side of the world with the same software to reassemble as a TV show. This is James Bond for real.

That potential goes well beyond the classroom. We’ve already seen on-the-spot mobile phone video clips posted on the Web impact world events. The series gives ideas for techniques to make things simpler, quicker and cheaper.  As the interview concludes, what you do with it depends on how you engage your audience, deriving from history a simple formula (that could no doubt be permuted) of

Engagement + Adventure = Imagination  x  Story  x  Participation


July 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment