While I was attending the Midwest MLA Annual meeting this past week I got the idea that it might interesting and helpful to try and record some of the posters during the poster session on video. I ran this idea by the co-chairs of the meeting committee and we decided it would be neat to try. Well the idea was good, but overall I was not pleased with the results. This a perfect example of learning through failure.
Take my Flip camera around and ask poster presenters if it was ok if I filmed them and ask if they would like say a little something about their poster. Upload that information to YouTube (Sorry hospital librarians that is the easiest hosting service I can think of. I can’t access it at my work either) Link to the video through the Midwest MLA conference blog and through this blog.
Most people were ok with filming them but it was often difficult to get their permission without interrupting them while they were speaking to another librarian visiting their poster. Plus I had to make sure I got the permission of the librarian visiting poster if I accidentally got their face on camera as well.
Poster presenters are all too eager to talk other librarians about their poster and what they did and how they did it. However, they are significantly less enthused to talk directly to a camera. Of those who gave me permission to film, not one wanted to speak directly to the camera. They would rather speak with another person than give a few brief statements about their poster to the cameraman (me). So I had to lurk around waiting for somebody who was interested in the poster to start speaking to the presenter. Let me just say, lurking is never a good way to get people to be interested in a poster or to talk.
The Flip camera is small and produces images that are easy to slap up on the web. However it does not have image stabilization and its microphone picks up a lot of the background noise (which can be quite loud in a poster session). I did my best not to jiggle the camera and to get the audio of those speaking, but lets just say I am more suited for a career as a librarian than one in T.V. or movie production.
I think video recording the poster session still has the potential to be useful, especially for those unable to attend the conference. It is nice to have the poster online, but a big part of the poster session is listening to the presenter and others discuss the poster and the opportunities and challenges of the project. Just having an image of the poster online misses all of the exchange of information and knowledge. However, if I were to do this again there are a few things I think I would do differently.
If something like this is planned ahead of time by organizers then it would be much easier to have forms signed ahead of time by poster presenters.
If it is something spur of the moment, then you still need to get permission from the poster presenter and that can get a little awkward because you feel like you are interrupting (and often are) them in their train of thoughts.
Talking to the Camera:
This is a two person job, a roving reporter and cameraman. Find an inquisitive, outgoing and talkative buddy who can speak with the presenter about their poster and ask questions. People had no problem talking to another person in front of the camera but they were a bit camera shy when faced with just themselves and the camera. The buddy really helps get the conversation going.
Additionally, you will already have the permission of your loquatious librarian buddy so all you have to worry about is getting permission from the poster presenter. This can easily be accomplished by the buddy asking ahead of time before you begin filming. Something as simple as, “I am interested in your poster do you mind if we video record while we chat?”
The Flip is really an easy camera to work with but the lack of internal image stabilization and the audio difficulties make it really difficult for me to endorse this camera for a loud busy poster session room. I don’t think you need a professional video camera for this endeavor, I just think there might be some better alternatives. I don’t have this camera, but the Kodak Zi8 is a pocket video camera ($180) that has internal image stabilization and has external microphone jack. Check out your camera options.
So without further ado, here is the one video that was somewhat decent among the many that I took. I want to thank Mary Schleicher who let me record her and also let me lurk a short distance away for somebody to ask her questions. Creating a Collection Development Policy for a Variety of Old Medical Books. (The video is on YouTube, so if you are like me, you may have to watch it at home.)