Friday, September 09, 2005

Ethnography and Video

Hi! This is my first ever blog!

Thanks for having me down to the afternoon at Incite. The discussion with the BBC about the role of ethnography as a tool for business and also its use in education engaged me. Its advantage over market research in business must be an issue that has been debated often and obviously us 'researchers' see the clear benefits. I want to mention more about the use of video when carrying out field work for clients. Having currently spent four months at PDD I’ve been heavily involved in camera work, logging, editing and clip making of field work footage. The qualitative research done here is often contextual interviews and observational research and less 'true' academic style ethnography due to time restrictions and budgets. Filming field work and just handing over the footage to a client is no use at all. At PDD a structure is put in place around video work. After filiming the tapes are then captured into a software called Convera. This software allows you to make notes alongside relevant frames of the footage. Once a whole film has been logged with supporting text it’s easy to find themes and interesting points to refer back to. The technique supports field notes effectively and can make analysis easier as all footage has been covered. Convera is also a good archiving system, storing all video data and allowing a designer or engineer for example to do a word search and find relevant video, even footage taken two years ago.

Once an analysis has been formed key areas in the video footage can be quickly allocated due to previous logging then extracted and edited to make data rich clips. Several clips can help to build up a case nicely. Showing these clips in a client presentation not only supports the analysis but also allows the client to enter into the context in a more sensory way. It’s a type of visual proof of the work done. Using selective film adds a more ‘real life’ presence to a presentation and captivates the audience. It certainly brings alive a dull PowerPoint!

Although time consuming and quite costly I do believe video can be an important tool in qualitative field work especially when you are trying to present certain points and themes in your fieldwork in an engaging manner.

Tamsin Smith