Veronica With Four Eyes

Creating Video Tutorials With The Free Shadow Puppet App

I recently received a question from a reader about free apps that can be used to create video tutorials on the iPad. My favorite app to do this is the free Shadow Puppet app, which doesn’t require an account and can be used by people of all ages. Here is my guide to creating tutorials with the free Shadow Puppet app, and how it can be used with accessibility settings for visual impairment.

What is Shadow Puppet?

Shadow Puppet is a free app for iOS and iPad OS that allows users to create videos, called Puppets, that blend images, videos, and audio recordings. There is also a free Shadow Puppet for EDU app that is optimized for teachers and students as young as 5 years old to create their own Puppets, though the creation and sharing process is exactly the same. Shadow Puppet and Shadow Puppet EDU are free to use and access and users do not need to create an account to use either app. Shadow Puppets also do not have a time limit, though the app developers recommend changing the image in each Puppet every 10-15 seconds for best display results.

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Creating a Puppet

Crop settings for photos and videos

By default, images and videos are set to be automatically zoomed in/cropped in a square shape. This can be fixed in settings, which can be accessed by clicking the settings button in the top left-hand corner of the app home screen.

Choosing images and videos

Users can add images and videos from their camera roll, or use the built-in search features within the Shadow Puppet app to find images or videos to add to their presentation.

The built-in search feature allows users to search for images and videos from the following sources:

  • Map search
  • Famous landmarks
  • For Shadow Puppet EDU- Education search for images from Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA, and NOAA
  • For Shadow Puppet EDU- Image search for images from Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons
  • Web search for animated GIFs (not available in EDU)
  • Backgrounds

Adding and customizing text

Once a user has chosen their images and videos, they can add text by clicking the Text icon on the right side of the screen and typing their choice of text (Emoji are also supported). Users can then add the following additional customizations to their text, listed in order of where they appear on the screen:

  • Animation effect
  • Font
  • Text position/alignment
  • Text color
  • Text size

If users are recording audio and want to add text, audio will automatically be paused when they are adding text and then will automatically resume when the user clicks the check box to add the text to the Puppet.

Recording audio

Users can record audio for their Puppet by tapping the Record button on the bottom of the screen, and tapping the button again when they are done recording. If audio is not working, I recommend checking to make sure the Mute button, which is to the left of the Record button, was not accidentally turned on.

Adding additional audio

Underneath the Insert Text button is a button with a music note on it to insert additional audio into the Puppet presentation. Audio can be inserted from the iTunes library, a built-in library of background music. As of publishing time, users cannot insert audio tracks that are on their device, such as recordings they made in another app.

Sharing and viewing Puppets

Users have the following options for saving, sharing, and viewing their Puppets:

  • Save to camera roll (automatically done if turned on in settings)
  • Share to Seesaw (EDU only)
  • Save to iCloud
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via email
  • Send link in Messages
  • Copy link
  • Share on Facebook or Instagram

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Using Shadow Puppet with large print and screen magnification

I tested the Shadow Puppet app with large print and Zoom magnifier and found that it was very easy to use. For Shadow Puppet and similar apps, I prefer to use the resizable lens view for Zoom so that I only am magnifying part of the screen at any given time, as I do not need to constantly have full screen magnification on. However, I only had to use Zoom when inserting text, configuring sharing details, or looking at details of images/videos- most of the buttons within the app are high contrast and I found them easy to see with my low vision.

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Using Shadow Puppet with VoiceOver

Shadow Puppet is not optimized to be used with VoiceOver, but it is still possible. If users can independently add their own images and videos, then they will be able to navigate the editor, though it’s worth noting that if the user is not using headphones, VoiceOver will still be audible in the Shadow Puppet audio recordings. Users also can’t preview their Puppet within the app if VoiceOver is enabled, but the Puppets themselves can be viewed by VoiceOver users without any issues.

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Shadow Puppet app upgrade

Users can upgrade to a premium version of Shadow Puppet for a one-time purchase of $1.99, which includes the following features:

  • Support for HD video
  • Up to 100 items in each Puppet
  • All 10 basic drawing tools

Users can also purchase the ability to remove the Puppet watermark for a one-time purchase of $4.99.

Potential uses

Some potential uses for the Shadow Puppet app and ways I have used apps similar to Shadow Puppet include:

  • Creating digital orientation and mobility lessons for people learning different techniques or learning to navigate to a new place
  • Creating audio recordings of alt text or image descriptions of art or other images
  • As an alternative to traditional school presentations
  • Creating a lesson or delivering a lecture virtually
  • Creating audio description for videos
  • Explaining an assignment or educational concept
  • Describing the layout of a space for someone who is blind or that has low vision

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Summary of creating video tutorials with Shadow Puppet

  • Shadow Puppet is an app that lets users create short videos that combine images, video, and audio files of any length
  • Images and videos can be added from the camera roll or through built-in online libraries
  • Text can be overlayed on the images/videos and characteristics such as font size, color, and animation effects can be customized
  • Audio can be recorded from directly within the app or added from another library or uploaded from a device
  • Finished Puppets can be saved to the camera roll or shared online
  • Shadow Puppet supports Zoom magnifier/large print- I preferred to use Lens view for Zoom
  • Shadow Puppet is not optimized for VoiceOver, but can still be used with some assistance. Puppets can be viewed with VoiceOver
  • The premium version of the app allows for additional content to be inserted, improved image quality, and removal of the Puppet watermark

Creating Video Tutorials With The Free Shadow Puppet App. How to use the free Shadow Puppet app and Shadow Puppet Edu app to create video tutorials with video, audio, and images that can be viewed anywhere