Category Archives: applications

Creating iPad & Tablet Videos


I recently made the switch and am conducting my filming and video production exclusively on my iPad. Part of my motivation for this shift was out of necessity; I am currently working on a pro bono education development project for an NGO in India and didn’t bring my laptop along with me, which has forced me to maximize the functionality of my tablet. I am currently working on several video projects for the NGO, and throughout this process I have uncovered several key elements I wanted to share.

There are a few reasons that now make tablet-exclusive video production possible:

Frame Rate Improvements
With recent tablet releases, such as the iPad Air, the film frame rate is comparable to many point-and-shoot video camera devices. Several years ago shooting on tablets and phones meant significantly reduced video quality. The differences are now negligible, especially if your goal is to upload the video for online streaming (where you want to strike a balance between good quality with a file size that isn’t too large).

Video App Capabilities
In the last few years a number of companies have produced video editing & production apps with enough features that allow you to edit clips
and create videos directly on the tablet.

Several Video Editing & Production Apps I recommend are:
iMovie for iPad
Reel Director

Benefits of producing videos exclusively on the tablet include:

Eliminates Video File Transfer
When shooting directly on the iPad you avoid the video file transfer process, saving a significant amount of time. The video files are already on the tablet and can be imported straight into the video editing app.

Video Playback & Review
During video filming sessions, using the iPad allows you to be able to instantly replay your video on a larger screen (to check shot layout, sound quality, etc), rather than having to review the footage on a very small camera LCD screen and tiny speaker.

One and Done
No one can argue with the drawbacks of carting around a laptop, camera, phone and a tablet. For me, traveling in a developing country with all of these expensive devices is a liability. I now need just my iPad and I can create a video project start to finish. One (device) and done.

Apps = User-Friendly
Oftentimes the full computer version of video editing software is overkill. There are way more features available than one needs to create a good video, so it can be overwhelming to wade through all the elements to learn and use the program effectively. By nature, tablet apps have limited functionality, featuring the most essential components, which is usually all you need to edit and produce a video.


There are obviously a few drawbacks moving exclusively to producing video content on the iPad or tablet, so in some cases I still recommend filming clips on a camera.
Several drawbacks include:

Limited Editing Functionality
The video production apps for tablets have limited functionality, so detailed editing is still best on the computer with a full video editing program. Yet my recommendations in the past have been to gear towards keeping your filming sections short (~30 seconds each) and “edit as you film” so that you don’t have much editing to do once you transfer the video clips into the computer video editing software program.

Finite Storage Space
Most tablets have 16/32/64 GB memory, which isn’t very much space when you start working with video. Both the video clips themselves and the video app project files can become large quite quickly.
As soon as you’re finished with a project I recommend loading the video to the video streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) for external viewing, and also loading a copy to iCloud or Dropbox as a back-up for your records. Then promptly delete the files from your device to create more free space. *Remember to save and then delete both the video project file from the video editing app as well as the final video file you most likely saved in your camera/video roll.

An important note: In all of my presentations on video creation I stress the importance of using a tripod. We have all tried watching too many shaky handheld videos that force us to abort due to motion sickness.
Shooting video on a tablet is no exception.
I always travel with my tripod, and have a mount built for tablets and phones that connect right into the existing tripod unit. This is an essential $4 item that is key for successful (and steady) video projects.
It is still a speciality item so I have found it difficult to purchase off the shelf in-store, but there are a variety of options available through online retailers. You can search for “iPad/tablet tripod mount.”
This is the mount I use and recommend:


I’ll be sharing some of the video projects I create in the coming months and I welcome your comments and feedback on how this process goes for you.




The best photo app I’ve come across in awhile is Snapseed. It’s free (owned by Google) and offers a significant amount of control over image adjustments. It provides your basic crop, rotate, straighten features as well as a “Tune Image” section which gives you the ability to modify the brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation, shadows and warmth. This is all you will need for most images.

The control adjustment for each of the tuning features, referred to as a slider, is as easy as a swipe of a finger; to the right for + and to the left for –. Very intuitive.

Snapseed also offers the fun features that have made apps such as Instagram so popular, but with more creative liberties available in post-editing: variance blur, vintage, black & white, grunge, tilt-shift (which is a modifiable edge blur and automatic vivid enhancement–my personal favorite) as well as a host of high quality frames & borders.

A “Compare” button lets you easily flip back and forth between the original and modified image throughout the post-production edits.

One of the best, and unique, features of the app is the “Selective Adjust” which allows you to tap your finger on a specific area in the image and adjust the brightness. This allows for finer tuning adjustments than almost all the other iPhone/iPad photo editing apps on the market.

The app is available for both iPhone and iPad and is a great addition to the IE practitioner’s app toolbox for any project requiring photo editing.
Available in the iTunes App Store


Image to Text

Image to Text by Ricoh Innovations is a free app that lets you extract the text from an image. You take a photo of the page of text, then send it to yourself in an email, which arrives with a text version in the body of the message and the original image attached. You can then copy the text into any text editable application and make necessary changes.

It has a pretty high accuracy rate, but occasionally misses a word or two. Glancing through for spelling errors and making a few corrections is still much faster than re-typing an entire page of text.

Two drawbacks:
1. You can only send on page/image at a time
2. You must be connected to the internet when you send the image; it can’t sit in your outbox and wait for a connection to be re-established

Despite the drawbacks, I have found this incredibly useful in a variety of circumstances and it has saved me literally hours of time.

Find it in the iTunes App Store





Evernote Smart Notebook

Evernote’s new product is an effort to convert even the most traditional luddites into digital archivists.

Teaming up with Moleskine the new Evernote Smart Notebook uses Evernote’s Page Camera feature to capture the pages of their enhanced paper notebook with smartphones and tablets. Evernote Squared Smart Notebook features the unique “Evernote squared” page style with dotted lines designed to ensure a clean image during digital capture. Their Smart Stickers allow tagging of  content; when capturing a page with Evernote, the Smart Sticker icons become searchable, digital tags.

A great solution for those who want the analog pleasure of pen and paper but the digital luxury of accessing content from the cloud–keeping digital and analog workspaces synced.

Air Display

Many have moved to the dual, or multiple, display workspace in recent years. A number of studies have been conducted on improved efficiency as a result of using a second screen. Jon Peddie research posits adding a monitor can boost productivity by 20-30% and Microsoft claims the increase in efficiency can be anywhere between 9-50%. Earlier this year the New York Times posted the article, In Data Delgue, Multitaskers go to Multiscreens.

For those of us who travel internationally and find that our workspace is more often at the local coffee shop than the home office carrying an external monitor can be slightly cumbersome (try it on a bike in SF!).

The solution is Air Display by Avatron. Air Display turns your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch into a wireless display, to extend or mirror your computer screen (your computer can be either a Mac or PC). It is among my most frequently used iPad apps and a must for the traveler’s productivity app list.

Download it from the App Store


Zite is a free iPad application that uses algorithms to automatically learn what type of information you are interested in and generate relevant content to create a personalized digital magazine.

Zite is definitely note-worthy and has made my top 5 apps of 2011. There are other applications such as Flipboard and StumbleUpon which provide tailored content based on the user’s interests and preferences but I have found Zite’s platform to produce the best depth and breadth of information. 9 times out of 10 I am interested in what it produces and find I read almost every article it recommends for me.

Zite watches your click preferences as well as how long you stay on specific articles to create future content. If you tweet, Zite looks at the text & links in your tweets and includes that information as relevant search topics when providing tailored content for “your magazine.” I use Pulse and a few other RSS feed aggregator apps but I find this one to be much more dynamic as it weeds out content I don’t want to see, even if it is from a news source I typically read.

The Zite app has a clean and attractive interface, landing you on your Top Stories page, with a side bar of subject areas you can customize to your interests (from Arts & Culture to Gadets to Photography to “Enter your Own” Category).

I talk with many educators who feel overwhelmed by the number of sources of information we are required to reach in order to stay updated in our field and related interests. We are constantly inundated with information, and it’s not getting any easier. While we need to stay abreast of current events it can be difficult to find time to wade through all of the unrelated content we are faced with on a daily basis.

If you need one go-to application to stay current on topics of interest, this is it.

Get it free from the iTunes app store: Zite

Image credit


I’m swooning over my new iPad (2) so there may be a few posts in the coming months that focus on the wonderful discovery of related apps.

Hitpad is an iPad app that offers a snapshot of trending news across the web. As we increasingly have more places to look for news and events happening in the world Hitpad simpifies this process by providing the top trending topics across the web in real time.

Rather than just a twitter feed, a Google search, or frequently viewed YouTube videos Hitpad’s beautiful interface offers a series of columns featuring a variety of sources & content trending on a topic: news, tweets, video, web, and photos.

On their site the developers/founders share a bit about what makes Hitpad successful and different:

Compared to the visual news or feeds readers, Hitpad has four main differences:

  • Hitpad is a rich visual dashboard that tells you what are the most important things you should know today in your areas of interest
  • Hitpad is instrumentation by measuring, analyzing and determining what is important to consume in order to minimize reverb and improve discovery
  • Hitpad is agnostic to the publishers that are providing the data
  • Hitpad is tuned and personalized based on your interests
You can find it here in the Apple store.