Creating Brainbuffet

I’m getting LOTS more questions on how to create a site like brainbuffet. It’s time consuming, but very rewarding and I’ll never go back to the traditional ways of teaching. As you may have read here, I’ve been doing the site online for a long time- and it was pretty innovative at the time… but I never imagined I’d have something like what brainbuffet.com is now for the kids.

Update 2/2014: I’m moving brainbuffet.com around a little. It’s been a class website for ages, but I want to be sure that it also serves as a great resource for those around the world. I’m reorganizing to make it a general resource that my kids also use, rather than a class website that others pop into… More coming soon.

So, How do you create your own site like Brainbuffet?

Easy. You only need a few things. Let’s get the equipment list out of the way:

  • Computer– Make sure it meets at least the minimum specs of the machines listed in the equipment list. Then double the RAM to record the movies well.
  • Web Hosting planRight now the best bang for the buck is SITEGROUND! – $3.95 a month to get started if you’re not doing a Gamified Site- unlimited space/bandwidth, Free domain. Unlimited domains in the account! You can have more websites on the same account!!! One of my former students has over 10 sites running, all for the same cost! You can get started with wordpress.com‘s blogs for free, but you can’t FTP up your videos and eventually you’ll outgrow it.
    FULL DISCLOSURE- Brainbuffet.com gets a little love (affiliate fees) if you use our links to sign up for them. Using those links is a PERFECT thanks!!! (and it won’t cost you anything extra!) Siteground seems to be working great for most class websites. If you have to send it to the book keeper to have her sign up- send her a link to this page and search for the domain name you want!!!
  • WORDPRESS!!!- I LOVE WORDPRESS. Before WordPress I used Drupal, Post-nuke, Maxdev CMS, and a few other CMS/Blogs. Nothing compares in terms of balancing power and ease of use. It’s amazing. Tons of support. Almost every host in the universe installs it for free.
  • Screen recording Software- I use Camtasia on the PC. For Macs, I recommend Screenflow. But for everyone, you can get Jing for cheap or free. (I recommend spending at least the $15 for Jing Pro. The smaller file sizes alone are worth the cash.) I also have heard good things from other teachers in workshops, (but have never used) Screenr, CamStudio, AviScreen, Screencast-o-Matic, and Copernicus (Copernicus is for mac).
  • Decent USB MicrophoneHere is a video I made about the two mics most people I know use, the AT2020 and the RODE. I LOVE my at2020!!! Expensive, but worth it.   Third place I’d have to say the micflex that Mike Skocko recommended to me when I started. I also have a Samson Go mic for recording on the road.  Beyond that, I have heard good things about the blue mics. Don’t use the crappy mic that came in the box with your computer. It’s impossible to have the video come across professionally if you sound like you are speaking over a walkie talkie. Trust me. Headset mics that say they’re amazing quality aren’t.

That’s it on the equipment side. Most you already have, most likely. After you have all that stuff.. then comes the time in your schedule, inspiration, and desire to do it. That’s often harder to come by… But for me, it’s all way worth not repeating myself 7 times a day for each class, and then again for every absent student, again for the kid that didn’t get it, etc… I record them once, share with the world, and do my part to rid the world of ugly. 🙂

 

Screen Recording tips:

I suggest starting to make everything HD. The world is moving that way, so if you record in the old 4:3 aspect ratio, your videos will be wonky soon. Make the jump now is my suggestion-

True 720p is 1280×720. Record at that screen resolution or higher and then render it down. 1600×900 is another great screen resolution to record at. If you’re super high resolution, when you shrink your screen down, it’ll be too hard to see all the tools. Get closer to the 720p actual resolution to make your vids clearest.

You only need about 5-10 frames a second to get decent video… but with .h264, it handles all that itself. That’s the way I recommend setting up!

3 Comments

  1. Im just re-implimenting a digital art program at Lander Valley High School (next year) in Wyoming. I got this site from Joe Dockery @ NCCE. I will be using your site as a resource to build my curriculm for a digital art and multi media class. Thank you for sharing this information. It looks awesome!

    Reply
  2. Hi Rob,
    Love the video tutorials on Illustrator. I am also using a wordpress self hosted site, but was amazed at how fast your videos are loading compared to most experiements I have tried. ARe they currently setup (or loaded to a cdn)? If you are using a third party service for your videos, would love to know what it is. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nope, No CDN… just uploaded to my server. I have a VPN right now which is pricey… but have REALLY been really happy with them. Only needed when your shared hosting gets too slow.

      Reply

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