We follow strict copyright guidelines. The following text is an example of the wording we use on the copyright form we ask all interviewees to sign. This form gives us the right to use the recorded interviews for non-commercial purposes, (i.e. educational and research purposes). It is just an example and to be sure of your legal responsibilities you should seek legal advice.
It must be acknowledged that Recording the Crafts' approach to interviewing is just one approach and there are many other models that you could follow. The advice is basic but contains many of the most important issues to keep in mind.
Before you conduct
your own oral history interview, it is worth addressing some of the
criticisms of it. Interviewees are often asked about events years
after they happened, people tell a story in a way that reflects well
on them and they have a tendency to telescope events together. However,
all of these criticisms equally apply to biographies, autobiographies,
newspapers and most other forms of evidence relied upon by historians.
What is important about oral history is that it gives voice to the individual who experienced the history we are looking at: whether it is yesterday or fifty years ago.
The following are just pointers to help you if you are unfamiliar with conducting interviews.
Say as little
Don't ask 'yes,
Don't ask leading
too much about your list of questions
Choose a medium
you are happy with
Make sure the
sound quality is as good as you can get
Bring a friend
Some useful sources relating to oral history:
(ed.), Reminiscence Reviewed: Perspectives, Evaluations, Achievements,
Buckingham, Open University Press, 1994.
Silverman, David. Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction. Sage Publications,1993
Silverman, David (ed.) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice. Sage 1997.
Thomspon, Paul. The Voice of the Past (Oral History), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1988 (second edition).
Narrating Our Pasts: The Social Construction of Oral History, Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Yow, Valerie Raleigh.
Recording Oral History (a practical guide for social scientists),
Sage Publications, London, 1994.
We use the following equipment routinely to generate video material for the archive:
We use the DVC Pro tape format because it was the best we can afford at this time. The tape is very reliable and the compression ratio is half that of Mini DV which means less information is lost during the recording process. We have used Beta SP for some of our earlier recordings. DVC Pro is of equal quality to this former `broadcast format` but has the advantage of digital error correction.
The recording crew includes a camera operator and a sound recordist who continuously monitors sound through the mini-mixer. This reflects best professional practise. Each operative can then pay maximum attention to their job.
We always use the best quality microphones available, because cheap microphones (less than £150 per) don't give the full range of voice frequencies. We have tried out two basic methods for sound recording. The simplest is to use lapel mics on both the interviewee and interviewer and record each separately onto left and right stereo channels. We have also tried using the gun mic placed out of shot above and in front of the interviewee held on a boom pole, supported by the Boom Buddy on a stand. This gives superb and realistic sound quality without the possibility of clothing rustle. It does however cause conflict between the sound recordist and camera operator because the mic shadow restricts composition of pictures. We have abandoned this approach recently because the former method works very well. We use the gun mic for less formal or mobile interviews. We have two good quality radio mic kits which we use if the interviewee is engaged in a task in which they need to move about.
The lighting kit enables us to create 3 point lighting for any scene and is essential for good pictures. The daylight conversion filters allow us to use available light where appropriate. We carry tough spun diffuser which is clipped to the barndoors of the lights if we want to soften the light or reduce its intensity in a confined space.
We always carry a field monitor in order to check picture quality and composition. This also allows the director to check what is being recorded.
section was written by Bob Prince, Recording the Crafts' lighting