I like to shoot videos with my Sony Alpha 5000 camera as I have a cheap smartphone that doesn't shoot great video. However I also like Instagram, and uploading to Instagram is made much easier with videos shot with the phone's video camera. It's easy enough to upload photos taken with the camera directly to Instagram just by copying them to the phone and opening them with the app. Video, however, is a different story, which makes sense because video is much more complex. There are many different video formats, codecs, etc. For example, the Sony Alpha 5000 shoots videos in 60i format.

Trial and Error

I was initially very frustrated with Instagram because it seemed so fussy. Videos which would upload easily to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube would render as a snowy mishmash on Instagram (at worst) or contain massive green lines (at best) and would just look horrible. As I mentionned before, videos taken directly from my camera wouldn't even be recognized by the Instagram app. With help from Google, I found some settings that seem to work with Avidemux and these settings convert video from my camera to Instagram ready format. Avidemux is according to the website a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding. It's very basic and fast and loads with minimum fuss.

The Settings

Instagram only allows a maximum of 60 seconds per video, so trim your video appropriately using the A and B markers. Next, under the video tab, choose Mpeg4 AVC (x264). Under the configuration tab, go down to Rate control and set the Encoding Mode to Average Bitrate (two pass) and change the average bitrate to 2000 kbit/s. You can also experiment with this number if the video doesn't turn out right. Now click on the Filters button and add a crop filter and a resize filter until your video becomes noticeably smaller, say in the neighbourhood of 640x386 or 480x336. It can be in square or rectangular format; whatever you prefer. Next make sure the video is set to 29.97 frames per second (again, change this under the filter tab if required). Now under the Audio tab, select the AAC (faac) encoding. Click the Configure button and set a 128kbps. And now click the filter button and make sure the audio is set to mix mono and have a 44100Hz (44.1kHz) sampling rate. Finally, just before saving your video, set the output format to the MP4 muxer.


The settings above must be followed or else your video will look like crap, with green lines and snow, or both. Check the settings above if this happens and make sure all the appropriate filters are applied. I find that sometimes resizing the video downwards often helps.

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Lundi le 13 juin dernier je suis allé au Bureau de l’arrondissement Ville-Marie afin de me procurer d'un permis de musicien ambulant. L'arrondissement de Ville-Marie comprend le centre-ville de Montréal, y compris le Vieux-Montréal et le Parc du Mont-Royal. Le centre-ville et le Vieux-Montréal sont d'excellents endroits pour rejoindre un grand nombre de passants et de touristes. Mais afin de pouvoir y jouer de la musique, il faut d'abord déposer une demande de permis et se présenter pour les auditions. Toujours en consultant la page Web, j'ai remarqué qu'il restait encore du temps avant la dernière séance d'auditions prévue pour le vendredi 17 juin.

Après avoir fait mes recherches, je suis donc parti en vélo afin de déposer ma demande de permis dument remplie et j'étais même prêt à payer les 130 $ pour le permis et le 52 $ destinés à l'ouverture de mon dossier. Malheureusement en arrivant au Bureau de l'arrondissement, j'étais informé qu'il ne restait plus de place libre pour les auditions et bien qu'ils accepterait ma demande, toutes les places étaient comblées. J'ai vraisemblablement déposé ma demande trop tard, soit après les auditions du mois d'avril et de mai. J'ai donc pu déposer ma demande, mais sans pouvoir passer une audition, ils ne pourraient pas me livrer un permis et ça prendrait une grosse demande afin de rouvrir d'autres places pour une audition. J'étais un peu fâché car je ne voyait pas pourquoi il fallait un processus aussi compliqué (une location de salle pour une audition, la sélection par un jury, etc.), les employés au Bureau de l'Arrondissement pouvait simplement consulter mon profil Youtube, non ? Enfin, voilà que je vais devoir choisir un autre endroit à l'extérieur de l'arrondissement de Ville-Marie si je veux faire de la musique de rue cet été.

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Janice Tuck from the Fun Music Company (www.funmusicco.com) has some great ideas for music games. One of them is Musical Tic Tac Toe. Musical Tic-Tac-Toe is a fun and engaging way for your students to improve the speed at which they read notes. You place a card with nine squares on a table and compete with your music student to see who can make a complete line first. This game is normally played by drawing Xs and Os on a sheet of paper with nine empty squares. In this version, the student has to name the note before claiming the square with a token. You can use any sort of tokens to cover the squares. I use guitar picks or Monopoly pieces. You can ask your student to play with picks while you use Monopoly or Clue props, or vice versa. A player must name the note he or she intends to claim before placing the token on the note. The person who manages to make a complete line with the tokens wins the game.

It is very easy to create a Musical Tic Tac Toe sheet with the Picture Bingo card generator provided by ESL games. Head over to http://www.eslactivities.com/picturebingo.php to create your cards. Scroll down to the BINGO card generator. A standard tic-tac-toe is a 3x3 grid with nine squares, so from the drop-down menu choose 3 rows and 3 columns and the "total pictures on card" box will be automatically updated to show "9". Next, you will need a bunch of note images to use. I've created a handy folder with images here. Download all the images to one file folder. Now when you click "Continue" on the BINGO card generator page, a popup will ask you to enter your images. You will have to point your browser to the appropriate folder and add images one at a time. Be sure not to upload the same image! You only need to upload nine images as that is the number of squares available for our Tic Tac Toe.

When you have finished adding all your images, click continue. Be sure to select the proper paper size (letter or A4) and make sure Free Space is set to "no". Click on continue and then you're done! Here is an example of what your finished Tic-tac-toe card will look like:

Please share your thoughts in the comments and let me know what games you enjoy playing with your students!

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