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Video in #Eval Week: Paul Barese on the Value Added of Video

Greetings. I’m Paul Barese, Owner-Director of Quimera, a small business based in Washington, DC. Quimera isn’t a traditional media house, rather, teams are interdisciplinary and our approaches are informed by social science and qualitative research, change management, film studies, and social enterprise.

Quimera helps clients identify innovative ways to use video. In some projects video-based approaches are integrated into the data-collection and analysis process as part of the evaluation toolkit (ie: participatory and ethnographic methods– video as process). In other projects, video documents data collection and/or discussion of findings for reporting and dissemination–video as product). In some cases it’s both. We’ve co-developed projects as part of strategic design, evaluation, knowledge management/ training, reporting/ dissemination/ communications/public relations.

Quimera focuses on the added-value of video, from conceptualization, co-design, production, through editing and dissemination. At times Quimera is a member of the research team, using video creation as part of the data collection process, and raw footage as qualitative data contributing to analysis. Quimera’s work is collaborative, ethnographic where appropriate (applied) and it’s common that stakeholders, beneficiaries and research/ evaluation members are involved in content creation. Quimera leads an editing process that includes varying degrees of review and collaboration with the client and little if any participation from beneficiaries.

Here’s an example of a video report that we made (if this does not display in your email or browser, click through directly to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxgTw2Ya5DQ)

Lessons Learned: When working with video it can be important for clients to think about organizational dynamics, politics, and the relationships between functional areas.

  • Look at maximizing (and co-funding) investments in production and editing by coordinating with other departments. Folks doing knowledge management, training, and communications are often interested in video and could be included in the planning process prior to field production so crews capture that extra bit of content which makes the raw footage useful to colleagues. Multi-purposing video can be important for financial and collaborative purposes.
  • Discussions with colleagues in other departments, ie: communications, can help defuse what might become tense or frustrating relationships between uses and dissemination of video created by “evaluation” but that carry interest, relevance or transparency concerns to communications.
  • Integration of video into evaluation can impact functional roles within an existing organization, required skill sets, work processes, equipment and IT infrastructure. It’s useful to look at bigger picture issues and longer-term ramifications.
  • Participatory approaches to content creation (putting a camera into the hands of a beneficiary) are valuable on many levels… engagement, dynamics, transparency, accountability, comfort, openness, sensitivity, data-quality.

Lessons Learned – Taming Technology: Don’t overlook audio equipment (external microphones). Audiences are forgiving when it comes to rough visuals but bad audio is the surest way to lose viewer attention and almost guarantee the click off.

We’re focusing on video use in evaluation all this week, learning from colleagues using video in different aspects of their practice. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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