The use of videotaping in folklore fieldwork : some problems in the transcription of a children's game

Verrall, Edith Ann (1975) The use of videotaping in folklore fieldwork : some problems in the transcription of a children's game. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The description and assessment of a folklore event depends upon a recording of that event which is as exact and full as possible and which is influenced as little as possible by the presence of the recorder. Videotape recording, with its capability to record both sound and movement, affords the means to obtain an exact and full record of an event available for immediate recall. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not videotape recording could be used effectively to collect folklore material and whether that material could be presented in a form acceptable for publication and analysis. The event chosen to be recorded was a game played by certain children in St. John's, Newfoundland which they called Chestnuts. -- The research methods employed were experimental because at the time the study was made, the use of videotape in research had just begun and no guidelines were available. Three types of recording situation were devised using VTR equipment of varying degrees of complexity to determine the capability and potential of a variety of equipment, to establish the latitude of technical competence necessary to operate different types of equipment, to test the range of technically acceptable material which could be used as research data and to learn, if possible, to what degree the recording equipment influenced the event being recorded. The first situation employed movable and moderately sophisticated VTR equipment in an indoor setting; the second recording employed portable equipment in a field situation and the third was a full television studio recording. The first two situations were unstructured and the last partly structured. -- A major difficulty in reducing the material to acceptable printed form arose for which three methods of transcription were devised: two forms of descriptive commentary (differing in the degree of detail), a game summary and a supplementary photo record. These are presented as part of the study. -- To demonstrate the fullness of the material collected by videotape, the game played by the children who were videotaped is described in detail. For comparison, descriptions of the game from printed sources are presented in historic context. -- It was found that the videotape recorder is a versatile device with much potential for use in folklore research. Even the least sophisticated equipment can meet a diverse range of recording needs. It is important, however, that the researcher have technical competence, but the non-professional can learn to operate most of the equipment effectively provided he has technical aptitude and some training. Tapes produced, though they vary according to the quality of equipment and videotape used, are technically acceptable for use as research date. The extent to which the presence of the recording equipment influences an event is difficult to assess, but with children, the fact that they are familiar with television, seems to reduce undue influence and the equipment becomes part of the play situation. Also, the less structured the recording situation, the less influence exerted by the equipment on the event.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5495
Item ID: 5495
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 350-356.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1975
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Folklore--Field work; Video recording

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