Microsoft Mix – hands on

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know I am a big fan of TechSmith Camtasia, and this is my normal go to when recording video content. However, I’m in the process of writing a training course for teachers on creating video content, and wanted an easier entry point. Enter Microsoft Mix.

mixMicrosoft mix is a free add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint, which works with 0365 and 2013 versions. You just need to go to the Microsoft mix website http://mix.office.com and download it. Once installed, you get a nifty new toolbar in PowerPoint called, you guessed it, MIX.

To test it out, I thought I would make a video showing how to make template pages in OneNote – a follow on from my last blog entry.

Recording

Before you start, you need to get your head around the “recording” being a PowerPoint presentation. If you are just recording a video, you’ll need a single slide. If you plant to present a presentation, you’ll need the presentation prepared. If you want multiple “clips” or “shots” you’ll need a slide for each. For my demonstration, I needed three slides – the introduction video, the screen capture, and the closing video.

To record, you use the MIX toolbar to record either:

  1. Over the existing slide with annotation and with or without video, that can also take up the whole screen
  2. A screen capture

MIxTool

When you record over a slide, you can:

  1. Annotate in a range of colours
  2. Record audio and video from whatever source you want, and adjust the recording volume easily.
  3. You can also record the video full screen and
  4. in hi-definition if you want, selecting the option from the tools menu

MixRecord

I found recording very easy, as was deleting my inevitable false starts! Recording the screen was just as easy, and once started all I had to really think about was my interaction with the screen.

Editing

Again I had to get my head around it being a PowerPoint presentation. Fortunately, I’ve edited video in PowerPoint before so once I realised I just needed to edit each of my videos I was home free. From the Video Tools>>Playback menu:

  1. The video volume can be adjusted
  2. Fades added to the start and/or end
  3. The video trimmed

VidEd

Trimming the video is a good idea, especially if you have paused at the start or end.

trim

You can also add clipart over the slides – I did a lower third title bar on the first slide with a text box and a graphic. Finally, slide transitions can be used to finesse your final product – I used a fade between slides. Once finished, exporting to video or uploading as a “mix” to the Microsoft Mix site is also very easy. I haven’t touched on advanced features such as quizzing or analytics, but that’s also possible with Mix, a great benefit for teachers, and the topic of another article at another time!

The Positives

Creating/Making/Recording a “mix” is very easy. There are very few options to choose from, the recording process is simple, and editing within PowerPoint is quite straight forward. As a starting point for teachers, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough – and if the teachers have PowerPoint presentations already, creating a flipped classroom lesson should be very straight forward. The purpose of my evaluation was to work out if this was going to be part of the training course I’m writing and the answer to that is a resounding “yes!”

The negatives

The simplicity of Microsoft Mix is also its downfall for me. I wanted better video editing that just trimming the start and end (I know I could copy the video over multiple slides, and trim each section, but that just gets clunky). Part of me likes the rawness that results from a “warts and all” video, but the perfectionist in me cringes a little. I also wanted better audio editing – there is no fine volume levelling control, nor is there the ability to do noise removal – I know a lot of this has been sorted out by the software during recording, but again the perfectionist in me wanted a bit more control. When screen recording, I didn’t like that the “mix recording bar” was also recorded, and I couldn’t do anything to zoom or highlight key items in from my screen. Finally, the single “track” that you get to edit, using slides as a kind of keyframe marker, is another deficiency – I’m used to far more control over video elements.

The final word

Microsoft Mix is a superb way for students and educators to enter into video recording, leveraging existing content and using a very simple interface for slide, annotation, video and screen recording. The fact it is based on PowerPoint, software that most staff and students already use, is a major plus. Get this in your toolkit!

The video

Here is the video I made – using templates in OneNote.  Recorded on a Surface Pro 3, using a Logitech C920 for video and a Blue Yeti microphone.  You can play it below or find it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/gqKnzeQZLjc

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Mix – hands on

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