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DIY dubbing in Italian

December 4, 2009

I love it when people dream up creative ways to persuade a tool to do something for which it’s not obviously intended. That was the case when two of my colleagues devised a clever use for VoiceThread.

Click for an overview of VoiceThread

Instructor Alessia Blad likes to provide her Italian students a realistic backdrop for conversation; in prior semesters, she had small groups write brief plays and share them. This semester, she decided they should make up dialog for scenes from Italian movies.

Alessia came to us to ask about extracting clips from videos and removing the sound — no problem, my colleague Kevin Barry told her. But then she wanted the students to dub Italian audio over the video. Sure, that can be done, but it’s normally something for which the average student has neither time, expertise, nor facilities.

Then Kevin remembered a conversation where our OIT colleague Paul Turner suggested we should take a look at VoiceThread. After some experimentation we determined that we could upload the video clips to VoiceThread, and then students would be able to dub them by recording audio comments. We bought a Manager Account, and that turned out to be helpful.

I was initially a bit skeptical of the project because time line was very tight. Nevertheless, the indomitable Ms. Blad and a number of her colleagues ran with the project and there were no serious problems. VoiceThread performed like a champ with seven classes. Nearly thirty videos were created and everything turned out great. Below is an excerpt from one of the finished products (the scene is from Cinema Paradiso).

I am impressed – with both my colleagues’ resourcefulness and also the product’s ease of use. It’s easier now to understand why my friend in Chapel Hill is so jazzed about VoiceThread.

P.S. In case you are not up to date with trendy acronyms, DIY stands for “do it yourself.”

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