Last week, I spent an exciting week learning how to use Sony Vegas.  Sony Vegas is video editing software, which I was using to edit footage of in-depth interviews I’d done a couple of weeks before.

It’s been a while since I’ve done video outputs, but I’ve always found them fraught with disaster.  They are a real “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” undertaking.  As researchers, we are reluctant to pay for professional videography – but we want professional results.

The budgets for professional videography just don’t appear to be appearing. Yet, video outputs are becoming more and more popular, so it is likely you’ll encounter them at some point – it’s best to be prepared!

Here are the key things I’ve learnt about working with video in research – I’d love to hear what others have to add!


  • Firstly plan the video [I rarely do this and I always regret it]. Talk to your video editor (if you have one) about what kind of outputs they need.  The one thing about video is there is 10 million different file formats*, so you NEED to check what they will be working with AND THEN CHECK WHAT FORMAT YOU’LL BE RECORDING (an important, but often overlooked step)
  • Do you want a video introducing the participants, if so think about the introduction you want, and get participants to introduce themselves on camera
  • Shoot some ‘extra’ footage – this can be used when something goes wrong with the video – or when the clip is a bit long.  Film a bit of atmosphere, the participant working around the house, in the garden, playing with a pet, or something that they talk about doing in the video.  Or film the city the research is being conducted in, film something you’re talking about in the videos – this helps to make the videos more interesting.
  • The GOLDEN RULE OF VIDEO: Whatever you do, don’t backlight.  Make sure you film with the light behind you, not behind them.  Unless they want to be anonymous – then this is a great tactic to make sure the participant can’t be seen!
  • Cost for and get transcripts.  I don’t always use transcripts – but my word they make the video editing process faster – this way you’ll be able to find the bits of the video even quicker (if you’ve got the budget, consider a service like 3PlayMedia’s time synchronised transcripts – this will cut your ‘finding’ time down by half, if not more!)
  • Consider re-shooting.  One researcher I know often does the research first without cameras, does the analysis and then goes back to the participants to shoot footage of discussing the salient points.  I’ve not done this myself, but it sounds like a good (if not expensive) idea to me.


Hope these tips help!  Happy shooting!!


* This might be a slight exaggeration