Video recording

Essential equipment for video recording includes:

  • video camera (camcorder) or studio webcam
  • microphone
  • computer (smartphone, tablet, laptop etc.) for digitising and processing video/audio signals
  • software for recording, playback and editing video data
  • software for converting video data into the MP4 distribution format

As with audio recording, a modern smartphone such as an iPhone 4/4S can record high quality video. Many compact digital cameras can also record video and some modern digital SLRs can record broadcast quality video, although usually only of limited duration. These video capture devices wiil normally be used with a tripod or other fixed mounting, and may be placed relatively unobtrusively to capture images of a speaker. However, video is more demanding than audio in terms of available storage space and is therefore more suitable for shorter talks, segments of talks, or discussions after a meeting, where it can be very effective.  Smartphones can also make use of editing applications to produce rough cuts more conveniently - potentially on the train home after a meeting!

For most member groups, a more effective solution will be to use offline recording with a combination of camcorder and wireless microphone, or to use online recording with a high quality USB webcam attached to a laptop computer. Modern camcorders can record audio on-camera, or by taking a feed from an external wireless or directional microphone, or from a public address system. Useful recordings have been achieved simply using the built-in camera and microphone in a modern laptop. However, this requires the speaker to stand in a confined space in front of the laptop, which may not be acceptable to some speakers. Alternatively, a studio webcam may be mounted on a tripod and positioned near to the speaker, with a USB extension cable linked to a laptop at the back of the meeting room. Using an external webcam should enable more flexibility and the webcam also includes a directional microphone. More sophisticated cameras and microphones, at higher cost, can be used if appropriate. In all cases, the camera should be tripod mounted and may require a cameraman to ensure correct tracking and framing of the speaker.

Either approach should be used in conjunction with recording software such as Camtasia, which may be used to edit offline recordings or for online capture. Camtasia also provides  video screen capture within a laptop computer, enabling synchronised capture of the speaker's slides. This requires a copy of the slides to be placed on the laptop prior to the event,   but can contribute to a more effective recording. Editing options within Camtasia enable the slides and camera video to be juxtaposed within a single output window, enabling the viewer to watch the complete recording through a single window. Other forms of screen output, such as a product demonstration, can also be captured which is a significant advantage. However, the effectiveness of the final recording depends on the camera and editing skills of the volunteers. Except with the most charismatic speakers, "talking heads" may become boring, and may not carry much additional information, so that the slides and audio are often the most useful parts of the recording.

Current best practice is therefore to use Camtasia with a suitable webcam or camcorder and external microphone combination.

For more information on Camtasia see:  http://shop.techsmith.com/store Action=DisplayHomePage&Currency=GBP&Locale=en_GB&SiteID=techsmit

An introductory guide to Camtasia is available at www.volunteer.bcs.org/sites/default/files/CamtasiaStudioGuide.pdf

For information on more sophisticated rigs, see the telemeeting-solutions wiki (wiki not under BCS control.