Last week in the post, “iPad App Smashing Green Screen Videos from YouTube,” I described an iPad workflow for saving YouTube videos from the web directly into the camera roll of an iPad, and then using those videos as “background videos” in a composited or combined green screen video. While those steps can work, one of the required free apps (Puffin browser) is rated 17+ and may not be an app you can use with students or want to use with them because of school content filtering policies. For this reason, and to assist one of the teachers at my school as well as my wife who are working on green screen video projects with students, I searched for an alternate iPad app workflow to save YouTube videos to the iPad Camera Roll for green screen videography. In this post, I’ll explain how to use the free iPad apps i-Nigma as well as Dropbox to do this. I created a Google Slides presentation with these instructions as well as links and QR codes, for six different example videos.

It’s important to first note that all YouTube videos are NOT published as “all rights reserved” copyrighted files. Since 2011, YouTube has permitted users to upload videos using a Creative Commons license. This means these videos can be legally downloaded and re-used (or “remixed”) as new videos, either for non-commercial or commercial purposes. Unfortunately, as others have noted, it’s not possible to select any other license other than the CC-BY license on YouTube. Despite this limitation, however, it’s still positive that users can share videos with a CC license and it’s possible to search for those videos on YouTube as well. In the case of the first three videos included in my example Google Slides presentation, I searched for videos using the YouTube search filters “short (<4 minutes)” and “Creative Commons.”

I tried several different apps and workflows to get these videos on my iPad from YouTube into my iPad camera roll. If you know about or find a different and easier workflow that works (using free apps) please let me know via a comment here or reply on Twitter to @wfryer. I tried to share the files on Google Drive, but there is apparently no way to scan a QR code of a Google Drive shared video and then save it to the camera roll. Some iPad QR Code scanning apps (like “Best Barcode Scanner“) allow users to open QR Codes in either the Chrome browser for iPad or Safari for iPad, but neither of those browsers let users save a Google Drive-shared video file directly to the iPad camera roll. Similarly, the iPhone version of the free Dolphin web browser lets users scan directly with a QR code, but a file shared with Google Drive can’t be saved to the camera roll in Dolphin. Mysteriously, my iPad version of the Dolphin web browser doesn’t appear to include that direct QR code scanning functionality. All of these workflows turned out to be dead ends.

Thankfully, it turns out there IS a way to save these YouTube videos on an iPad directly to the camera roll without using an app rated 17+. If you download a copyright-friendly video to a laptop or desktop computer (I used Peggo) and then upload that file to Dropbox, and then make a QR code (I like to use the free site createqrcode.appspot.com) then that QR code can be scanned on an iPad to download the video directly to the camera roll! The free iPad DropBox app does need to be installed for this to work, but you do NOT have to log into DropBox or have a DropBox account. This means students don’t need emails or DropBox accounts to use this workflow: just i-Nigma and Dropbox.

As I stated previously, I’d love to know if an easier or simpler workflow for this exists on the iPad using free apps other than this one. At this point, this is the best one I could find.

The last three videos included in the Google Slides presentation I made are NOT licensed CC-BY in YouTube, but do indicate they have been shared for re-use in green screen videos.

If you use this iPad app workflow on your own or with students, please let me know! Hopefully faster and easier ways to do this will become available in the months ahead.

As I indicated on the Google Slides presentation, this is an advanced iPad videography workflow. The best workflow for obtaining green screen video backgrounds is to use copyright-friendly image sharing websites like PhotosForClass, MorgueFile or others I’ve linked on the images page of PlayingWithMedia.com.


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  • Deon Scanlon

    Hi Wes. Did you know that ALL unfiltered web browsers are rated 17+ on the iOS App Store? YouTube is also rated 17+. Worth knowing!

  • drpresident

    Hi Will. Thanks for sharing your workflow. I was wondering the same thing, and have been playing around with a green screen this morning. Did you consider sharing the Google Drive folder using a QR code and having people save a video from there?

  • drpresident

    Please ignore my last comment. I see that this only works if people are using the GDrive app, and not if accessing the folder from the web, which means that they would need a GApps account.

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