Who’d have thought it could be so difficult?
A couple of weeks ago I ran an iPad workshop for teachers. One of the participants, Judith, raised an interesting problem that stumped me. I promised to find her a solution. This blog post represents the fulfilment of that promise.
Judith wanted to be able to have several students record video on their own iPads, then copy those separate videos to one student’s iPad and there, combine into a single file in iMovie. That doesn’t sound like it would be too hard, now, does it?
The problem it turns out is that you can’t get a video into iMovie unless it is in the iPad’s camera roll. Getting a video into the cameral roll is (stunningly) problematic. Copying it into iMovie via iTunes’ File Sharing window on a computer doesn’t work. Neither does emailing it from one iPad to another. You can of course send the video to an iPad via email, Dropbox, GoodReader, Documents, File Storage or any one of a number of other apps – but this doesn’t get it into the camera roll – which means you can watch the video in the app that contains it – but it doesn’t show up in iMovie.
I spent several hours on Google and Apple’s support forums, etc. That got me nowhere.
Twitter got me further. In fact a number of my tweeps were very helpful and offered suggestions that worked. Many of these, however did require the use of a computer as an intermediary between the two iPads. I was really looking for a way for two students equipped with iPads only, to share their videos.
Since then, I have done a bit more experimentation myself (and purchased numerous apps). Out of all that, I present what I consider the best three solutions. Each works well and each has advantages and disadvantages.
(Kudos to Heather Bailie @hebailie for this) This was the first solution suggested that worked! Box.com is very like DropBox. Students can upload their videos to their free Box accounts via the Box app and share them with each other. They can then download each others’ videos to their own box account and then in Box there is an option to save the video to the photo roll on the iPad (this option is not available in DropBox and others). Once it is there on the camera roll it will be visible within iMovie.
Advantage: It’s free.
Disadvantage: The video data is uploaded and downloaded via the internet, which makes the process slow and since videos tend to be large files, this will also be an issue for the bandwidth-impaired.
2. APPLE’S CAMERA CONNECTION KIT
Mr. Barlow @mrbarlow suggested a stirling solution which is to use the Apple iPad camera connection kit. For $35 this stupidly overpriced little piece of plastic lets you connect a Digital camera to your iPad and transfer your photos to your iPad’s camera roll. The nifty thing Mr Barlow pointed out is that this also works between two iPads. In other words, you can connect one iPad to another and transfer the photos and videos from the camera roll of the first to that of the second. That works very well, and is very fast.
Advantages: It’s fast. It works simply, without installing anything or setting anything up.
Disadvantages: You have to buy the connector for $35. Only one pair of students can use it at a time. It’s so diminutive an item that you are likely to lose it. If some of your students have iPad 3 and some have iPad 4 or iPad mini you will also need to buy a lightning to 30-pin adaptor (another $35) – bringing the total cost to $70.
3. Photo Transfer WiFi
Just this week Simplex Solutions released an awesome new app – Photo Transfer WiFi that is exactly what I was looking for! This really nice universal app is just $2.99. Once the app is installed and open on two iPads, they see each other, once their passwords are shared, the two can simply send photos and videos to each others’ camera rolls. It’s a thing of beauty and simplicity. Unlike using the Box solution, it doesn’t send the files through the internet – so it’s much faster. And unlike the Apple Camera Connector Kit, several groups can be doing this at the same time.
Advantages: It’s fast. It doesn’t use the internet, just WiFi. It’s got a very intuitive interface (unlike many other apps I tried). It’s affordable.
Disadvantages: There really are none – except that it’s not free. But this developer deserves every cent he earns.
If you have another solution, I’d sure love to hear about it. Please share it in the comments below.