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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderAudio-visual media
View the documentCassette documentation
View the documentParticipatory video
View the documentPhoto/slide documentation

Cassette documentation


Recording interviews, group discussions, meetings, music, stories, dramas, and natural sounds with a cassette recorder.


To record stories, dramas, folklore, rituals, and other information and dialogues which can be developed, preserved, and reproduced for dissemination.


- Two cassette recorders
- Cable to connect the two recorders together so you can record from one to the other
- Cassette tapes
- Microphone
- Batteries
- Paper
- Pens

Possible approach

Sound recordings can be used in many different ways. The process below describes how to make a simple audio program that you can use in a training course or play over a local radio station. Some radio stations might also be able to do the recording and editing for you.


1 Identify a situation in which the use of a sound recording can help (For example, the villagers might be preparing for a meeting which will reveal an indigenous organization's key features. Information about the organization could be used by people in other villages to improve their own organizations.)

2 Identify your target audience. Think of their characteristics (age, sex, income, location, attitudes, knowledge of the subject, etc.). Decide what types of information they already have, and what types of information they might respond to.

3 Set your objectives. What do you want the audience to think, feel or do after they have heard your recording?

4 Review any available audio recordings and references related to your topic.

5 Prepare a topic outline and a draft script.

6 Test your tape recorder to make sure it works.


7 Make it clear to everyone that you are making a recording.

8 Discuss your objectives with the participants or actors.

9 Start recording. You can record interviews with local people (try to find a place with as little background noise as possible). Ask each person to say his or her name at the beginning of the interview. You can also record music and "wild sound"—the background noises of a festival, meeting or community that make the recording sound realistic.

10 Regularly check to ensure that the recorder is functioning and that you have sufficient tape.


11 Review the recording and label the tape—event, date, duration.

12 Review the tape and "log" it: write down the counter number at the beginning and end of any segments that you would like to use in the finished program. For those segments, transcribe what each person says so you know exactly when to start and atop the recorder while editing.

13 Revise the script and incorporate the interview segments and wild sound.

14 Record the narration (if any) and music onto separate tapes.

15 Using two cassette recorders record the narration, interviews, music, and wild sound in the right sequence onto a clean tape. If you have sophisticated equipment, you can add music or wild sound in the background.

16 Pretest finished tape with your target audience to assess your recording's effectiveness. Assess their reactions. Did they agree or disagree with the statements made? Did the tape generate a lot of discussion?

17 Use the tape in training or for radio broadcast as planned.


- Cassette documentation is an easy and useful recording tool, especially in communities with an oral (story-telling) tradition.

- Recordings can help preserve, disseminate, and promote IK in the language of the target audience.

- They can enliven an illustration, photo, or slide show, or be used in video or radio programs.

- Recording a meeting or interview can enable you to go back over what was said later.

- It can be used to record the local language and possibly serve as part of a language tutorial.

Dos and don'ts

- Avoid creating distraction while recording.

- Avoid interrupting people you are interviewing. Ask them questions that need more than a yes/no answer. And encourage them to say more by nodding and smiling rather than by saying "yes" or "uhhuh."

- If possible, record in the natural setting of the subject or event. But try to avoid overly noisy locations (such as near a market or passing traffic). You can select a microphone that will eliminate much of the background noise (ask a specialist in an audio shop to help you with this).

- Store cassettes in well-ventilated areas, protected from dust, humidity and insects.

- Don't record too much. It's easy to make hours and hours of recordings that you'll never listen to again.


You can also record your own ideas and comments on cassette. A pocket microcassette recorder is particularly useful for this if you cannot write your thoughts down (for instance, if you're riding in a car). Remember to transcribe the cassette as soon as possible afterwards 50 you do not forget the context.

Compiled by Anna Reylene J. Montes

Participatory video


A method of video documentation which engages local people as camera operators and directors.


To find and document IK from the insiders' point of view and then prompt discussion and raise awareness using the videotape output as a focal point.


- Video camera
- Microphone
- Video tape
- Batteries and power source
- Artificial light source
- Television or video monitor
- Cables


Buy, borrow or rent?

Participator video does not necessarily require substantial investment. Hand-held video cameras, which arc becoming more and more common, are ideal. Maybe you can borrow or rent.


Easy editing

Remember the principal audience for participatory videos is the people who make them. Don't fret too much over production quality But, if a community wishes to share its video with other communities, very rough or unnecessarily long scenes can be easily removed or shortened. Just hook your camcorder to a video cassette recorder and transfer only valuable material to a fresh tape. To ensure that you don't cut valuable material, ask community members to supervise your editing. Better yet, teach them to do it themselves.

Possible approach

Train a selected group of community members—men, women, young, and old—in basic video production, especially camera operation. The rudiments can be taught very quickly—in a matter of minutes— right in the community.

Have community members discuss a theme for their video, such as food preservation and storage, or local farm implements. This discussion can be facilitated by the "outsider."

Community members record footage of what they want to document and share. In so doing, they record information—spoken and visual— that they wish to emphasize, highlighting their point of view.

View the video with the group. Make a mental note of the images that were selected and listen for comments which can be brought up later in discussion.

Initiate a group discussion on the topics covered in the video. (Gee Group discussion and Village workshop for ideas on how to do this.)

Leave a copy of the tape with the community,


Participatory video:

- allows insiders to tell their own story.

- encourages rapport.

- can serve as a focal point for in-depth discussion of indigenous knowledge, technologies, practices, and beliefs.

- can raise awareness of IK and foster pride in the local ways.

- can lead to improvements in IK.

- puts illiterate insiders on a more equatable footing with literate outsiders.

- can be entertaining and thus attract participants. can help outsiders find valuable IK.

- can lead to the sharing of knowledge and know-how.

Dos and don'ts

Do allow community members to shoot whatever they choose. Do let many community members become involved in order to provide several different perspectives from within the community. Don't persuade or dissuade them from taking certain shots.


You can also produce video programs on IK for training or broadcast. Such programs typically require careful preparation and scripting: they also need more equipment than most organizations have.

One way of producing a video program cheaply is to ask a local video store (the type that usually shoot videos at weddings) to help you. Develop a scripts and list of shots you will need (see the section on Photo/slide documentation for hints on the steps to follow). eke the video team with you and tell them what you want to shoot (make sure they use a tripod to hold the camera steady!). Then work with the team to edit the footage into a finished program.

Note that video for broadcast may have to be higher quality than most hand-held cameras can provide. Contact the local television station for details.

Compiled by Scott A. Killough and David G. Abbats
Reference For A listing of films on and by indigenous peoples, see TVE 1994.

Photo/slide documentation


Taking photographs as prints or slides. Individual prints or slides can stand on their own or be shown in sequence with narration to convey complex messages or illustrate themes.


To preserve images—objects, practices, and dynamic processes in a community. Photos are useful for recording baseline data, visually chronicling implementation, and in monitoring and evaluation. They can also stimulate discussion and action by local people and by outside organizations.


- 35mm camera
- Flash and batteries
- Film
- Paper, marking pens and push-pins
- Notebook and pencil

Possible approach

Photographe can be used in many different ways. The process below describes how to use photos in a simple exhibit or slide-tape program that you can use in a training course.


Identify a problem for which photographs can help. (For example: you have been assigned to introduce a number of IK practices to a large group of people. You might choose to prepare a slide presentation.)

Identify your target audience (see assette documentation).

Set your objectives. What do you want the audience to think, feel, or do after they have seen your photos?

Gather and review, if necessary, available photos and references related to your topic from the community, local government units, and libraries.

Prepare a topic outline, a list of shots to take, and/or a script.

Make sure your camera works.


Make it clear to everyone concerned that photographs will be taken. If needed, ask for permission.

Explain your objectives, who and what you want to photograph, and who will see the presentation.

Follow your shooting guide or script to document the practices you need to record. As far as possible, take pictures of people and objects in their natural settings. Take more photos than you need in case some do not come out as desired. after shooting

After shooting

Review your shots and label them (event, actors, date, significant details, including any information on IK).

Select the shots you need and put them in a logical sequence.

Write or refine the narrative to accompany the shots.

Prepare the presentation.

Prints: You can put prints in an album for presentation, or make an exhibit (it's best to use enlargements for this purpose). Write or type labels with a narrative to accompany the photos. Pin them on the wall 50 readers or visitors can follow them without any extra explanation.

Slides: It is best to keep a slide set in a projector tray. You can make title slides by writing with chalk on a blackboard and then taking a picture of it. You can write the narration (with notes on when to change the slides) on paper and keep this with the slide set. Or, you can record the narration on an audiocassette and play it back while you show the slides.

Pretest your shots or your slide show with members of the target audience. Assess the impact on the audience. Note how they react. Change the individual shots or the sequence and narrative if necessary.

Use the finished exhibit or slide-tape program as planned.

Store the slides prints and negatives in a well-ventilated place free of insects, dust and humidity (an air-conditioned room is best). Make sure they are labelled and ordered in a way that enables you to find photographs easily.


- Photography is a powerful, yet simple, low-cost way to capture detailed images. Photos can show objects, events or processes.

- They can stimulate discussion and preserve, promote, and disseminate details of a people's culture, practices, traditions, and lifestyle.

- Photos can also be used in many other ways—for instance, as illustrations in publications. on posters, and as stills in video programs.

- They are a particularly effective way of communicating IK to people outside the local community.

Dos and don'ts

- Get as close as possible to your subject when shooting. The moat common mistake in photography is to stand too far away— causing the subject to appear too small in the print or slide. If you cannot get up close, use a telephoto lens

- During shooting, be guided by your script or shot guide. Try to avoid taking photographs just for "documentation." try to keep a purpose in mind when you are shooting. Buying and processing many rolls of film is expensive.

- Avoid creating distractions while taking photographs.

- Take your photos in the natural setting of the object or event. Try to avoid "posed" shots, with everyone looking directly at the camera.

- Encourage community members to prepare their own photo and slide shows. People can easily be trained in basic photography.

Compiled by Anna Reylene J. Montes