Introduction: Cityscape Information Image Vs. Video

Through this project, students will understand the difference in the amount of information contained in an image compared to a video by recording a video of themselves creating an image. A cityscape is the simplest way to represent this information gap because of the layered nature of the image. Due to the process of creating a cityscape, there will be a significant amount of information lost as consecutive layers are created. However, that information can be retained and recalled if students are given or create an accompanying video documenting the process.

This project is intended to cover STL Standards 17-L, P, and Q.

17-L: Information and communication technologies include the inputs, processes, and outputs associated with sending and receiving information.

17-P: There are many ways to communicate information, such as graphic and electronic means.

17-Q: Technological knowledge and processes are communicated using symbols, measurements, conventions, icons, graphic images, and languages that incorporate a variety of visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli.


Computer with keyboard and mouse,

Microsoft Paint (or alternative painting software)

Camtasia (or alternative screen capture software)

Step 1: Open Recording Software

Camtasia will look something like this on opening it up. Thankfully it has a reasonably simple interface with the active canvas in the middle, timeline at the bottom, and fancy options on the left. For this project, we aren't going to worry about the fancy options, but we will check our work using the other two parts of the interface.

As a side note, any screen recording software will work fine for this project as long as it documents the process of image creation. This recording part of the process is what gives the project its depth of information, adding a Time dimension to an otherwise static drawing. It's the equivalent of showing your work in a math problem.

Step 2: Hit Record

Once you're done taking in the sights of the currently empty Camtasia window, click on the Record button with a red circle beside it at the top left of the window (marked with a red box in the first image). A popup window with all of your recording options will appear. Make sure that the marching green ants are covering the correct window and click the "rec" button in the pop-up. A countdown will appear, then you'll start your recording.

Step 3: Making Of: the Cityscape

For this step, the first thing you want to do is open up your painting application. I used MS Paint because it tends to be the most common art application found on computers, but you can use any art application that's capable of drawing boxes and color fill.

The process I followed to create the image was starting at the back of the cityscape and adding all of the details there. Following this, I moved my way forward through each individual layer of buildings before filling in my background and foreground at the end.

Include some Easter eggs in the video like the stick figure that oversaw some of my skyline's creation, as information loss in a final image is the whole point of the process. This information loss can also be seen with some windows' existences being implicit rather than explicit in the final image.

Once you finish creating your image, don't forget to save the final product.

Step 4: Stop the Recording

The video will take longer than two seconds to record, but once the video is completed, click the Stop button in the same pop-out that the "rec" button was in. Doing so will take you back to your Camtasia editing screen with the clip you just recorded already inserted into the timeline.

Scan through the clip to make sure it came out correctly and continue to the next step.

Step 5: Video Production

You're not quite done with Camtasia yet, since its project files aren't compatible with video players, and it only uses them to internally edit the video files.

To export your video, click the Share button in your top menu above where your Record button was and select Local File. I recommend saving it as a 1080p .MP4, but you can choose a different option if your computer takes a while to render. Select your file save location and uncheck the sub-folder box unless you really think you need it.

Finally, start rendering the video. Once you finish, you should have both a picture of a cityscape and a video showing how it was made.

It's worth noting that this project can be done with more complex subjects than a shadowless cityscape with a quartered sun in the corner. The goal of this project was to convey the general idea of information loss when converting between two different types of media. While the image is capable of showing "what" the subject is, the video is necessary to know the "how" for the existing "what". As a parallel, having an image without the accompanying video is like having a picture book without any words.