I’ve spent the last couple of months thinking about kit – video kit mostly – but it’s got complicated. As part of my research into the management practices of business models and market-making, I wanted to take advantage of the richness of data that can be captured through video diaries as well as other more traditional methods or data collection (interviews, documentary evidence such as minutes of meetings, emails, presentation materials etc). So, I need to buy video cameras. That sounds simple enough I know but when I came to buy the cameras I found myself launched into a world of coding languages, quality discussions, software compatibility issues, usability issues and a whole load of other things. What does all this mean? I have made some decisions.
Decision 1: How might I use video footage?
First, I had to think about how I want to use the material I want to collect. The video diaries are data. But part of the purpose of the video footage was also to think about how I might use it to communicate my findings to practitioners in an accessible and meaningful way once my research is has progressed to that stage. Now that I have started to work with the managers involved in this research, I have a much greater understanding of my research context than I had when I made the initial grant application to look at these issues. I am much more aware of the issues I will be observing and perhaps influencing through my engagement with these managers. Consequently, I now realise, or am more mindful of the complexity and sensitivity the video diaries will capture and in this regard it seems wholly inappropriate and unethical to think of using this data to communicate findings at a later stage. This has implications for kit. What I need for the data collection job is lower quality, light, mobile cameras – FLIP looks good.
Decision 2: What video footage am I likely to collect?0
I had envisaged, when I wrote the grant application, that I would buy three camera’s, one for each manager in each of the three firms I would be working with. I looked-up the cost of the cameras at that point and they were about £1,000 . That was for a small hand held video camera – like the type you see in your average retail outlet. So that would be £3,000 total in my budget for video cameras. However, once I started talking to managers about what they do, I soon realised that in each firm there are about five key respondents (managers) who are playing a significant role in the market-making practices I’m studying. That means I’m now looking at needing fifteen cameras not three….. (remember, I only have a budget of £3,000). There is also an issue regarding whether managers will actually use cameras when they get them – but that’s another story. I won’t know how that works until I have the cameras. So this affects my kit procurement decision – they now need to be cheap too!
Decision 3: How can I use video to communicate my findings to Practitioners?
To do this I discover I need a whole new set of skills myself as well as a completely different kit specification. To communicate key findings with practitioners, students and other researchers, I need to be able to make ‘mini programmes’. To make programmes you need ‘big’ kit. Well, not as big as it used to be, but now the camera discourse is ‘quality, counts’. I thought initially that I would be able to access ‘expertise’ about programme making by talking to firms or IT people within the university who would advise me upon the kit I needed and the knowledge I would need to collect, create or commission such programmes. Several challenges arose. First, it was not clear who I should be talking to, to answer my questions – even the people I spoke to who have produced video podcasts had done so on an ad hoc basis; developing their own way of working through trial and error. Also, I realised that I didn’t really have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do – or at least I was communicating my ideas in a sufficiently ‘techno speak’ way to be understood. I had to go right back to the beginning and rethink what my objectives were in doing this. I also realise that if I am to use ‘mini programmes’ to communicate my research findings, I need to be an expert. I need to know what I’m asking for. This leads to me having to learn about programming languages of the different digital cameras (in order to understand which editing software the different cameras are compatible with), learning about camera specs. (I’m coming down on the side of the Panasonic AG-DVX 100BE); learning about software packages (Adobe Premiere Pro is really the ‘industry standard; it’s a full editing suite that can be integrated with website materials and all sorts…very clever); learning about computer specifications that will run the editing software (PCSpecialist were very helpful); and learning storyboarding skills; what will be in the mini-programmes I want to make and how will I communicate this through the medium of video?
In the process of trying to become an expert customer, I think I’ve become an expert – well not quite but enough to have a go at doing this stuff myself. I’m not trying to get a job at the BBC, but I do want to experiment with these communication tools as part of the research process – so I am jumping in to the deep end. If anyone has done this or anything like it – all advice is welcome!