Data collection

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This is a page to add advice about specific guides for data recording, equipment and collection based on a document circulated by Ruth Parry: Conversation analysis and Clinical Encounters Conference York 2013 Report from a Knowledge sharing workshop: Tools, techniques, tips, processes, software, hardware.

What's on your packing list?

  • Camera(s)
  • SD flash memory cards (SDHD = high capacity SD)
  • Camera clamp/pole/tripod etc.
  • Wide angle lens
  • Mic(s)
  • Mic stand
  • Digital voice recorder for back up
  • Headphones
  • Bulldog clips, duct tape
  • Spare batteries
  • Consent forms, record forms


Things to consider when selecting cameras:

  • Bring one or more cameras?
  • External power supply? (ideally don't run them on batteries)
  • Fish eye / wide angle lens recommended
  • Headphone jack for monitoring audio recording?
  • External mic jack?
  • Remote on/off control can be useful
  • Lens cap you can put on to record sound only

Camera Storage media

  • Don't go for direct to DVD (they are trouble!)
  • Go for high definition + records onto SD card
  • They tend to record to their own proprietary formats
  • JVC records to an MPEG4 which houses an MPEG2, Canon records to MTS files
  • They all need converting (encoding) into a format you can play, edit, and that works with your analysis software
  • CLAN, ELAN (?transana) work well with MPEG2

Other camera ideas

  • Camera you can turn into a player that projects onto the wall (show participants straight away)
  • Eg. Sony

Camera recommendations / notes

Further reading

Camera positioning and fixing

  • Two cameras or more?
  • Test as much as you can
  • Magic arm (Manfrotto)
  • Gorilla pod (
  • Drip stands and clamps
  • Will you need to move it during recording?

Camera positioning and fixing

  • Two cameras or more?
  • Test as much as you can
  • Magic arm (Manfrotto)
  • Gorilla pod (
  • Drip stands and clamps
  • Will you need to move it during recording?

Camera monitoring

  • If using a GoPRO and some other newer systems, bringing a Smartphone or ipad will allow you to monitor your camera view remotely.
    • NB: turn off the wifi function on the GOPRO once you have decided on optimal view, because it runs the battery out fast, and also flashes a blue light which can be obtrusive.
    • It is possible to buy a separate viewfinder with the GOPRO, but expensive.

Microphones / audio recording

  • Camera’s own is generally inadequate
  • Ideally test various ones first
  • Tie pin (lavallier) – good for where you don’t want to capture surround
  • Boom – unidirectional
  • Wide angle mics – surround mics
  • Rode and Sennheiser are recommended brands
  • Shielded cables (and care re interference camera lead to mic)

Audio back up

  • Always record an audio back up
  • Digital voice recorder (eg Olympus and Zoom are recommended)
  • Record to uncompressed format – Linear PCM, Wav
  • How to ensure synchronisable with video: clap once just after switching audio back up on. Or film yourself turning the audio back up on in the view of the camera

Recommended models

Mic for discussions and large groups

Large groups


Mic fixings

  • Even if resting it on a table, put it on a stand that will absorb, eg sound of papers moved on table, or hand tapping on table
  • Rode do a shock stand with rubber net

Other ideas / notes on microphones

  • Rode mics have a good reputation, but note that the Canon camcorder recommended above has an excellent internal mic and no external mic is needed in small clinic rooms. Recent experience also suggests the GOPRO sound compression causes quiet recording and static noise even when an external mic is attached.
  • A rode mic to try with camcorders and GOPROs is

Software / video processing / storage

Moving from camera to PC/Mac

  • Encoding needed
  • Lossless encoding (you want best quality rather than greater portability/smaller size)
  • Adobe premiere to get miniDV digitised
  • TMPG (tsunami MPEG) for concatenating and recoding (can do in batches overnight)
  • Don’t try and run computer for something else when you are encoding
  • Some cameras, including canons record into sections, these need ‘concatenating’ into a single file

Storing videos

  • Very high capacity password protectable ext hard drives now available and very lightweight
  • Varying capacity within universities

Making Video clips for talks


  • Very time intensive (frame face and follow frame by frame or in real time)
  • But, more rapid is to shade out sections (eg if have people in background want to shade out) – programmes such as TMPEG, Final Cut Pro, Adobe premiere, Windows Moviemaker)
  • Also, filters eg Xray, circle framing work particularly well with Windows movie maker (free) Final cut pro High Def

Software Packages

Adobe Premiere

TMEG encoder

  • Recommended more highly than adobe premiere for editing, concatenating, manipulating images $99
  • support for many input and output formats, detailed parameter settings, fast and precise cut-editing, video format conversion, compression, material creation, and much more

Final cut pro

Free ones

  • Windows movie maker
  • Imovie

Open Source ones

Other software

  • video canvas (effects such as pencil sketch)


  • Premiere, final cut pro,
  • Inqscribe easy to learn and use
  • ELAN (needs jiggling for overlaps but means that your transcribing is directly converted to subtitles but
  • ‘STAMP’



Further Reading / links


This was compiled by Ruth Parry and Marco Pino with thanks also to Nick Wood and Mark Dingemanse, MPI Nijmegen and folks who responded to email and languse queries Glenys Caswell, Paul Cibulka, Shannon Clarke, Virginia Teas Gill, Spencer Hazel, John Heritage, Kristian Pollock, Liz Stokoe.