Starting with audio-visual media

Here are some points to consider when planning the technical aspects of a research project involving audio-visual media:

  • Production values. Do you want to produce a professional quality end product, or is this not so important for your project?
  • Dissemination channels. What are the technical implications of your intended methods of dissemination? For example, with video, if you want to disseminate to mobile devices via YouTube, your outputs will need to work on a small screen, whereas if you want to disseminate at conferences, your outputs will need to look good on a large screen, and the sound quality may be more important as well.
  • Equipment. What audio-visual hardware and software do you already have access to? What do the young people have? Is there some equipment you’ll need to hire or purchase? What is your budget for that?
  • Skills. It’s unwise to assume that young people will necessarily be ‘digital natives’ when it comes to audio-visual media. What skills do they already have? Are there skills they would like to learn? What about your own skills? Do you need to organise some training?
  • Support. What sources of technical support are there inside and/or outside your organisation? For example, are there local youth music, video or photography groups that you could link up with to get access to equipment and skills? Or there may be media students in local universities or colleges who are looking for assignments, and could bring skills and equipment.
  • Safety. Taking expensive equipment into public places can sometimes be risky, both for adults and children. Think about where you and the young people will be going, when, and with whom, and how you can minimise the risks. If you’re using equipment that might be stolen or broken, do you have insurance in place?
  • Preparation. The technical nature of audio-visual media means that problems arise quite often. Solving them is part of the process. Think about what might go wrong and how to prepare for that. It’s always a good idea to carry things like spare batteries, spare leads, connectors and adapters.
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More Resources

JISC Digital Media: creating

Comprehensive and detailed information covering numerous technical aspects of photography, video and audio production.

Communicating using storyboarding and video animation

A short step-by-step guide to using animation and storyboarding to communicate messages from research. From the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS).

How to shoot video with your smartphone

Many smartphones can shoot video, but making it look good can be tricky. This page gives some hints and tips on how to get the best results.

Digital storytelling using video interviews

A detailed guide to the technical aspects of using video to interview people. Covers equipment, set up, composition and gives a step-by-step guide.

Taking photos for the web

A BBC video giving helpful advice about how to take good photographs for online use.

Tips and advice on what video kit to buy

Useful advice sheet on choosing and buying video hardware and software. Download the pdf from this blog post.


“It could be that the software you want children to evaluate isn’t available in school because of the school’s child protection firewalls – so there are all kinds of practical issues there.”
Judy Robertson, Heriot Watt University