1.4 Video Recordings

Video recordings are a central part of language documentation projects.  You can read about it here:


What kinds of  events would you like to record by video to add to your documentation project?  Dances, stage performances of songs or acting, traditional ceremonies like blessing rituals- all of these cultural practices either directly or indirectly tell us something about language use and structure.  Making these cultural practices a part of the lasting record of the language will support a rich holistic language revitalization effort.  

image of a video recording record in the CORSAL archive

Screenshot of a brief video recording of a performance of a hymn in Lamkang

Equipment for High-Quality Recording

In addition to the equipment considerations we discussed for audio recordings, you want to make sure your video recorder is equipped for field work.  Here are some considerations:

  • does the video camera allow for an external microphone?
  • does the video camera allow for headphones (Using headphones during video recording lets you monitor and adjust volume and microphone placement during recording)?
  • is there sufficient light on what is being recorded?

For more information on equipment needed for both audio and video recordings, check out this quick guide by the Queensland Studies Authority: https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p_10/snr_atsi_languages_11_documenting.pdf

Recording Remotely

Like we discussed in the Audio Recordings section, there are options for recording remotely but video and audio quality need to be considered. Ideally, the documenter can facilitate higher quality audio and video recordings like an external mic and high resolution webcam. 

Saving Video Files

There are a variety of video file types, but just like with audio files you want to save the original files in an uncompressed format. Video files can be very large, so uncompressed video files can take up storage space. But these large files retain the original quality of the footage. Just like with audio, video files can be copied and compressed for sharing online or through other means.

Video files are also large and more complex because they are bundled with audio as well. The file types you have available will likely depend on your video software, but .AVI, .MOV, MP4 are common.

The Value of Video

Video files can be exceedingly useful to provide a visual context to language use. Non-verbal information such as gestures and body language can be captured in video. Video can also allow viewers to make note of certain contextual information such as where speakers are seated relative to each other.  But most importantly, videos allow for future generations to see and hear the sounds and stories of their ancestors. In today’s rapidly changing world, there may never be an opportunity for the young people to otherwise experience their culture and language.