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Tuesday 19 August 2008

Filming students

I started out a bit intimidated by the idea of accosting random students and asking them to appear in a video forthe web, but it turned out to be straightforward and I got a really positive response.

Mostly I set up in the library foyers - I had my laptop and microphone on a booktrolley so could record then and there. I generally ignored students on their way out (likely rushing to a lecture) in favour of those coming in. I didn't have any tangibe bribes, but did want to 'offer' something, so generally started with "Hi, have you seen the video on the library homepage?" Then I could show them where to find it and, while they were watching a bit of it, explain what was going on and ask them if they'd help out.

To my surprise, about 1 in 3 agreed. This varied by branch: at one branch it was more like 1 in 10. At some branches, the librarians introduced me to likely candidates. But even approaching people at random, I could typically record half a dozen volunteers in not much more than half an hour.


What did they say? Responses fell fairly evenly among the old triumvirate:

Place: a warm place (it's currently winter in NZ), a quiet place. (Best new motto we'll never use: The Library: There's no-one around.) A place to study, essentially, though one or two mentioned hanging out with friends.

People: they see librarians as friendly and helpful - one made a point of saying that (contrary to expectations, one infers) the librarians aren't intimidating or scary.

  • computers and internet
  • books and journals
  • everything needed for studying
  • easy to find and use

A couple of days after the second video went up, a colleague asked for a transcript so she'd know what people were saying. This reminded me I'd been interested in the possibilities dotSub provides. I got permission to put the videos up there as well. It was dead simple to transfer the videos across from YouTube, and the interface is incredibly user-friendly, so (as I already had the transcripts from when I'd been editing the videos) it took me less than two hours to create the subtitles for both videos - that's less than 20 minutes per minute.