Experiments with Big Video

New technologies give enhanced methods for video ethnography

The DIGHUMLAB community VILA supports research into embodied human interaction in a wide range of environments and with a focus on social cognition, learning, and design. Recording and editing multiple stream audio/video recordings are two of the technical focus areas of the lab. Another focus is the documentation of mobile interactions. A third focus is to experiment with and understand how technological innovations can be employed to capture and analyse interaction.

Researchers at Aalborg University have been experimenting with new technologies and enhanced methods for EMCA and video ethnography. One key focus has been to collect richer video and sound recordings in a variety of settings.

According to ‘Research on Language and Social Interaction, guest blog: Jacob Davidsen and Paul McIlvenny on Experiments with Big Video’ – Pokemon Go Hunt has been used as a case study.

The critical question was how the researchers can record what each individual is doing with their smartphone and still capture how the whole group is being mobile together? In this case, five players wore GoPros on their bodies pointing at their individual smartphones as well as lavalier microphones.

In addition, a researcher walked around the city with a 360° camera mounted on a long pole. With this setup, high quality video and audio from the individuals and a 360° recording of the surroundings and the mobility of the group were captured.

It might be easier to capture Big Video, but the post-editing is getting more complex and rich. Questions such as how to transcribe 360° data or what microphone to privilege in the post-editing become crucial to address. As a result, it is also necessary to re-examine and rethink what ‘data’ is.

There are distinct advantages of using some of these new technologies:

  • You can capture the situated relevancies of more extreme and complex multi-party practices.
  • There are new phenomena to study that were unavailable to enquiry or unimaginable before.
  • There are new modes of presentation and visualisation.

Read more about experiments with Big Video in the guest blog at Research on Language and Social Interaction “Guest blog: Jacob Davidsen and Paul McIlvenny on Experiments with Big Video”.


Digital Humanities Lab Denmark

Aarhus University
Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4
DK-8000 Aarhus C