Desktop Video - Making Video Without a Video Camera

Want to make videos but don’t like to be in front of the camera? You don’t have to be. You don’t even need a video camera! With just a Mac, (and maybe an iPad) an Internet connection and tools like iMovie, Keynote, Audacity, and Quicktime, you can use photos, stock images, screencasting, animation, and a little creativity to make fun, engaging videos for your students.


A Simple Example - Done with just still images, downloaded video clips (with permission of course), and titles.

A More Sophisticated Example - Combines animation, screen captures, still images, titles, and exported Keynote slides

Another example: "Untangling the Web" (Animation, screen captures, green screen, still images, exported Keynote slides)

A Screencasting Example: "Let's Make A Map" (exported Keynote animations, screen captures)

Standard Recipe

  1. Begin with a good script. Write out what you are going to say. Then break up your script into a storyboard. Then start adding images, sketches, ideas of what visuals you think will go best with your audio. Example Storyboard. Blank Storyboard Template (PDF)
  2. Record your audio.
  3. Start collecting, building, assembling your visual resources and put them in a folder. These can be:
    • Still images or photos
    • Screen captures
    • Exported animated video from Keynote
    • Downloaded video
  4. Go to iMovie. Add your audio1. Then start importing your visuals and matching them to the audio according to your plan.
  5. Add "sweetness" (Sound FX, Music, Titles, etc.)

1You will need to add some sort of blank still image to iMovie before you import your audio. iMovie will not let you start with audio, there has to be a video there first. I typically import a generic still image, and set the duration to several minutes (the length of my video) and then import my audio. When adding the visuals you add them in front of your placeholder image. When the video is complete, delete the placeholder before exporting.




  • iMovie/iLife Sound effects and jingles
  • (Royalty Free Music)
  • (Royalty Free Sounds and Music)
  • "Hire a Kid" - You all have that kid in your class who's the soundFX machine, right? Give him an outlet for that talent!
  • Create your own music using Garageband or UJAM

Tools and Techniques

Apple Keynote - My Secret Weapon

Keynote is more than just Apple's version of PowerPoint. It has two killer features that really help me in creating visuals for my movies.

Instant Alpha

More than just a ChromaKey. It helps you isolate parts of images (like people or faces) and make the rest of the image transparent. This very useful. Here's a VIDEO TUTORIAL.

Object Animation, Record Show, and Export as Quicktime

Combine these three tools together and you have a powerful combination for creating some pretty cool looking video clips. Keynote has some pretty slick object animations and slide transitions. You can create objects using Instant Alpha, then animate them using one or more of these animations. Once you've got your animations set, you can Record your Slide show. Here you click through your slides and animations in full screen while keynote records the timings. This allows your show to run automatically with the same timings. Once your timings are set, you can export your show as a Quicktime movie that can be imported into iMovie.



iMovie Green Screening

To use green screen in iMovie, you first need to Show Advanced Tools (these are OFF by default).


If you have a still or video and you would like to superimpose an object with a green background over it, you simply drag the video from your events viewer over the video in your timeline and select Green Screen.


If you create animated objects in Keynote with a green (or blue) background, you can place these objects over existing video in iMovie. A solid green or blue background created in Keynote is very even and usually keys out quite cleanly.

Green Screen Ingredients

A few pre-made green screen effect for play and practice. (Thanks to Andy Losik)