How to analyse 20 hours of childhood videos?
How do you know that you have spent too much time on your research? When you start applying it in private life as well! All started years ago when my family and I digitized our old VHS tapes. Since then dozens of (one hour) childhood videos are rotting on our hard drives. For the 30th birthday of my brother, I decided to make him a special present and to create a best of video based on this material. My idea was to identify the ten decisive factors that made him the great person he is. But how should I identify these factors and how to cut and analyse dozens of hours of old videos? Here, some skills in qualitative data analysis saved my day.
Step 1: importing video files
For the fun of it, I decided to import the 17 videos into MAXQDA, the research software I use as a PhD student and freelancer. The videos are mostly about an hour long and although they are fun to watch, I did not intent to watch them several times.
To make sure that MAXQDA would run smoothly, I used a decent resolution (bellow 720p), frame rate (30 fps) and file format (mp4). I saved all my (external) video files on a local drive in order to increase performance and therefore the software ran quick and smoothly.
Step 2: coding video segments
Then, I began with an inductive coding process. Fortunately, I did not need transcripts or anything. Instead, MAXQDA allows to simply tag the video track with different labels. Here, a coded segment is made up by a code and the beginning and end time. With simple dragging and dropping and the help of the function keys, I was quickly able to assign labels to all the relevant video segments.
In this way, I watched one video after another and tagged the segments with ad-hoc labels. After a while, I began to define and describe my codes with code memos. To set a useful analytical unit, I decided to code only video segments that make sense on their own. The selection criteria was also clear: Only scenes with my brother that are heart warming or fun to watch.
Step 3: organize the code system
Step 4: Export the video clips
The rest was quickly done. I just took the video snippets, aligned them in Movie Maker (yes, movie maker! I don’t do this very often^^). Then, I added some photos that I had also sorted into these folders, put some text and music in, and was done.
My family at last was amazed by the astonishing results of my research. Finally, something that they could relate to! Unfortunately, I cannot show you the final result. But I am sure you can imagine the ten factors above represented by children between the age of 1 to 12.
If you have made it to this point, you might already have guessed it: this is not just a nice story, but I also lured you into reading a tutorial on how to do video analysis with MAXQDA. Try not to be mad at me and thank me next time you need it 😉 .