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The Craft of Ritual Studies$

Ronald L. Grimes

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195301427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195301427.001.0001

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Appendix 6: Common Errors in Using Fieldwork Equipment

Appendix 6: Common Errors in Using Fieldwork Equipment

The Craft of Ritual Studies
Oxford University Press

  1. 1. General

    1. A. Treating equipment as if it were an accessory, like a hat, rather than as an extension of yourself, like your arm

    2. B. Not knowing your equipment like the back of your hand, e.g., not knowing what each jack or button is for; in short, not practicing until you are skilled

  2. 2. Notebooks, notes, note-taking, word processing

    1. A. Not taking any notes

    2. B. Keeping only a log (record of calls and contacts)

    3. C. Taking notes that only you can read now, so that later neither you nor anyone else can make sense of them

    4. D. Taking too few, too sporadic, or too brief notes

    5. E. Not putting notes in a word processor so they can be copied easily onto write-ups, moved, shared, or easily indexed

    6. F. Not using full headers (title, date, keywords, etc.)

    7. G. Not knowing how to use the indexing function of your word processor

  3. 3. Video camera

    1. A. Not turning it on; thinking it’s on when it’s off; thinking it’s off when it’s on. You may laugh at this warning, but you will also be surprised how often it happens even among experienced field researchers.

    2. B. Not using a tripod. Few things are more irritating than a constantly bouncing camera. Every little movement with a camera looks big on a big screen.

    3. C. Not knowing when to put your tripod aside. Tripods can also destroy your mobility when you most need it. When things move quickly or become intimate, a tripod can inhibit your ability to follow or interact with action.

    4. D. Not wearing headphones, thus being unaware that your sound is poor or, worse, nonexistent

    5. E. Shooting toward a window or other backlit source, which will cause faces to be dark on the screen

    6. F. Using low-quality, cheap, off-brand tapes or SD cards that are too slow to keep up highly compressed video

    7. G. Failing to have completely recharged batteries (always check; use the A-V adaptor when you can, then there are fewer surprises); failing to have at least one backup battery

    8. H. Failing to turn on the in-line microphone switch (when using an external microphone that has one), or failing to have a good battery in this mike

    9. I. Not getting the microphone(s) close enough to the person you are recording. (This is the mistake that most often ruins interview recording.) Being close enough for video usually does not mean that you are close enough for audio.

    10. J. Having background noises (e.g., traffic, TV, nervously tapping the table) or picking up the sounds of the recorder’s own motor by placing the microphone on top of the recorder itself. If the microphone has a foam windscreen, use it when outside even though it may not be a windy day.

    11. K. Nervous focus. The autofocus on some cameras can be jumpy, so if you can work with it turned off (that is, with your subject is relatively still), do so.

    12. L. Focusing between two subjects. If you have two subjects and you aim between them, the autofocus of most cameras will focus on the wall behind them.

    13. M. Not having an extension cord when you need one

    14. N. Not having a long enough microphone cord when you have to be a long way back from your subject

    15. O. Excessive zooming and panning. Zooming or panning is mainly useful for getting quickly to another kind of shot, but the zoom or pan itself will probably be cut from the final draft.

    16. P. Not having the right adapters or cables for the power or audio sources you will encounter

  4. 4. Video editing

    1. A. Not having the right hardware: three or four large, fast hard drives; a good video card; a good motherboard; adequate power supply and cooling fans. Most laptops are not up to the task of video editing.

    2. B. Not having the right software, usually Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro

    3. C. Not knowing how to use your editing software

    4. D. Overuse of flashy transitions

    5. E. Poor sound quality

    6. F. Inability to export to useful formats

    7. G. When capturing from a video camera, leaving on the date or counter, which will then be permanently recorded on your output version

  5. 5. Microphone(s)

    1. A. Assuming the built-in one is good enough (it usually isn’t)

    2. B. Not using the right kind of microphone for the job

    3. C. Using a low-quality microphone

    4. D. Not having the microphone close enough (the most serious, most common A-V error)

    5. E. Not checking the microphone battery

    6. F. Not carrying fresh extra batteries

    7. G. Not carrying a microphone extension cord

  6. 6. Transcribing

    1. A. Not knowing how to transcribe from your recorder, computer, or video camera’s sound track

    2. B. Over- or undertranscribing; transcribing without a clear purpose

    3. C. Over- or underediting transcriptions

  7. 7. Digital still camera

    1. A. Poor viewfinder or one that can’t be seen in bright sun

    2. B. Not having a large enough memory card and therefore running out of space

    3. C. Poor framing; tilting the camera

    4. D. Wrong exposure or speed

    5. E. Over-flash

    6. F. Resolution too low

    7. G. Not editing, or not editing well

    8. H. Not having decent editing software, e.g., Adobe Photoshop

  8. 8. Tripod

    1. A. Assuming that a tripod isn’t worth the trouble

    2. B. Not knowing when a tripod is necessary and when it is, in fact, more trouble than it’s worth

    3. C. Legs not evenly extended, or floors is uneven, so picture slants

    4. D. Heads too loose or too tight

    5. E. Camera not tightly mounted

  9. 9. Audio recorder

    1. A. Not getting the microphone close enough to the person you are recording. This is, by far, the most common error in fieldwork technology.

    2. B. Failing to have fresh or completely recharged batteries. When you are recording, many machines do not warn you that your batteries are low or dead, so check frequently. Using an AC adapter is best. New alkaline batteries are next-to-best.

    3. C. Turning on the pause button and then failing to release it. Thus, you think you are recording, but you are not.

    4. D. Failing to turn on the in-line microphone switch (if you are using the sort that has one), or failing to have a good battery in this switch. It is a small button cell. Always carry a spare.

    5. E. Using voice-recording activator; it quits recording if there are three or four seconds of silence. Silence can tell you important things, so don’t suppress silence until you are ready to do so deliberately in the editing phase.

    6. F. Having background noises (e.g., traffic, TV, nervously tapping the table) or picking up the sounds of the recorder’s own motor by placing the microphone on top of the recorder itself

    7. G. Failing to use microphone’s foam windscreen when outside

    8. H. Not having an extension cord when you need one

    9. I. Not having the proper cables or adapters