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Systematic Techniques For Gathering And Analyzing Video Data

Supported by the National Science Foundation
Duke Marine Labs, Beaufort, North Carolina, July 28 – August 1, 2008

Elizabeth Cartwright, Idaho State University,

Jerome Crowder, University of Houston,

Course Overview


Video recordings provide an exceptional way to capture qualitative data for use in research. Using a hands-on approach, this class will prepare participants to collect and analyze anthropological data gathered through video recording.  In order to successfully carry out research using video equipment, participants must first master the technical side of this kind of data gathering.  During the first two days of the course, participants will learn to use high quality video and audio recording equipment and will learn the basics of video interviewing, location of audio and lighting, camera handling, and scene composition.  Opportunities for filming will be arranged for the participants in the local communities. Working in small groups, participants will generate video footage that will then be brought back to the classroom and downloaded into participants’ computers for coding and analysis. 

During the next three days in the five-day course, participants will learn to tag and code images, create relational databases and create data matrices for statistical analysis. Video footage gives the researcher a unique ability to understand dynamic events within their spatio-temporal context. Participants will learn how to partition their footage into meaningful sequences that can be coded and analyzed for audio and visual content.  At the most basic level the footage can be analyzed thematically for the naturally occurring speech surrounding the event.  Secondly, the analysis of the movements, interactions, facial expressions, and other visually observable events will be added into the timeline generated by the video footage and the already-coded speech acts. Finally, the two levels of analysis are checked against each other by playing back the video footage, along with the written commentaries/analysis/codes that the researcher has written into the timeline and that now appear alongside the video. This triangulation between what was said and what was done provides an important corrective to relying solely on a textual analysis of dialogue.

Another form of triangulation that will be explored by class participants will entail taking still images from video footage and using those stills both as stop-action reference material to understand proxemics between informants and as means for sharing with the informants in order to elicit their descriptions and interpretations of the scene. With these digital stills, researchers can measure and more accurately observe subtleties in body language and facial expressions (which may not be detected during full-speed play back) as these change over short periods of time. Furthermore, eliciting informants’ reactions to still images provides contextual data that may not be captured by the lens or inherent within the dialogue of the video.

Readings will be available on the course web page (participants will be asked to read the materials prior to the course so we can concentrate on hands-on learning). At the end of the course, participants should be able to use the various methods presented in the analysis of their own data and to demonstrate the methods to their participants and colleagues.

Course requirements

All participants will be expected to come with a laptop that can run Windows-based programs. (Mac users may need to install software to emulate a Windows environment.) Participants will need to have Microsoft Word loaded on their computers and may be asked to download and install additional demo or free software before coming to the course.


Course Readings


Articles will be made available before the course via the course schedule. All readings must be completed before the beginning of the workshop.



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