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Video app brings Palm Harbor yearbooks to life

PALM HARBOR — The grinning teenager, surrounded by a makeshift mariachi band, holds a sign: "Prom?"

The photograph of his romantic gesture is captured in Palm Harbor University High School's 2013 Aftermath yearbook — and it unlocks a surprise.

"Hold your smartphone over this photo and a video of prom pictures starts to play," said Judy Cannaday, the school's journalism teacher and student media adviser. "It's awesome!"

The free Yearbook 3D app, launched recently by publisher Walsworth, allows editors to plant video "triggers" on pages for an interactive reading experience.

An old tradition — a printed yearbook — has been infused with fresh technology, Cannaday said. Using the app, anyone with an iPhone or Android phone can watch the Palm Harbor student-produced footage of the prom, and soon, graduation.

"It doesn't replace our coverage — it makes us stand out and feature events we don't have time to include," she said, adding the annual print deadline is in mid March. "The kids like it. They live in a mobile world."

Walsworth executive Alex Blackwell said the Yearbook 3D app was released across the country "on a limited basis" in January. Users can embed any kind of animation into a printed image, he said.

"We thought, 'People are always consuming video on YouTube and smart devices. Why not extend that to the yearbook, make it more relevant?' " Blackwell said. "It gives schools the ability to bring it to life."

This year, about 1,100 Palm Harbor University High students — nearly half of the student body — have purchased a lime green yearbook for $60. Yearbook staffers passed out copies Thursday with video instructions attached.

Cannaday believes the new feature will drive up sales.

"It gets people talking," she said.

Photo editor Katie Rodnite, 17, said the student response has been overwhelmingly positive. "People are tweeting about it," the senior said. "It makes the yearbook cool. We used to be the nerdy yearbook kids."

Megan Mackenzie, 14, grabbed her book before lunch Thursday. The freshman, an iPhone 4 user, scanned the Yearbook 3D handout.

"This is cool," she said. "I'll download this."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at or (727) 445-4224.