Media Suite Tutorial: Desktop Documentary for Television History

Desktop Documentary for Television History

Tutorial for CLARIAH Media Suite V 4.9, May 2020
Tutorial made by Christian Olesen, May 2020

Tutorial Description, Case and Objectives

This tutorial introduces you to making a desktop documentary that critically compares and reflects on the different ways in which the Media Suite and other platforms give access to historical television content. The aim is to learn how to document and reflect on your research process with critical attention to the affordances of different research environments. In particular, you will learn how to critically reflect on aspects such as search functionalities, tools, metadata and interface design by making, commenting and presenting screen recordings of your own browsing. As historical research on digitized television content tends to make use of sources found through formal as well as informal digital platforms (see for instance McKee, 2011) acquiring such critical skills is essential. After having completed the tutorial you will have learned to:

  • Make and edit screen recordings into short thematic clips using either Quicktime or Mediasite to present and reflect on access to digital television content in the Media Suite and on other video platforms, in particular YouTube
  • Be able to critically compare relevant features of the Media Suite and other platforms and reflect on how these features affect your results, in particular search and bookmarking functionalities, metadata, interface design and availability of content

To introduce these steps, this tutorial will revolve around the case of the hugely popular and entertaining string of television programs created by the Dutch comic duo Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie (Hadimassa, Simplisties Verbond and Koot en Bie among others). By comparing - based on your screen recordings - which shows by the duo are made available in the Media Suite and on YouTube and how they are made available, you will reflect on which aspects of the show’s history the two platforms respectively facilitate.

Types and levels of teaching and research

This tutorial is aimed at BA students in their second or third year who are becoming familiar with television history research and is aimed at intermediate level users of the Media Suite. The type of research introduced in this tutorial draws on and combines two types of different media analysis. First of all, the tutorial reflects recent approaches in what has been termed “videographic media studies”, and in particular the desktop documentary format. On a general level, videographic media studies may be characterized as a type of scholarship that analyzes media through audiovisual modalities instead of conventional written modalities. Instead of writing (primarily) texts as the format in which media is analyzed, videographic media scholars engage with and analyze media objects and cultures in a more direct manner in medias res, by making videos, web-based multimedia projects or for instance audio papers that process the media analyzed. In recent years, the desktop documentary has emerged within this field as a format that critically reflects on media production, fan culture and access to media content from the vantage point through which we increasingly access media content: the laptop’s desktop environment and the multi-tab browser window. Pioneered by American media scholar, filmmaker and film critic Kevin B. Lee, the format consists of documenting and editing one’s own engagement with media content through screen recordings. For an example of one of Lee’s best known works see Transformers: The Premake from 2014 which can be accessed via this link . In Lee’s work, especially the political economical dimensions and power structures of contemporary media production are scrutinized, for instance with regard to who decides what media content may be accessed via a video platform such as YouTube.

In addition to the approach of the desktop documentary, this tutorial also supports contemporary television historiography insofar as it offers a basis for critically comparing the content of different video platforms. One instance of research this tutorial aligns closely with is the work of Australian media scholar Alan McKee as reflected in his article “YouTube versus National Film Archive: Which Is the More Useful Resource for Historians of Australian Television?” (2011). In this article, McKee compares respectively YouTube and the National Film Archive’s video content and databases to evaluate which of them best facilitates research on iconic, Australian television history moments.

Prerequisites

  • Screen recording and editing : This tutorial gives you the option of recording your desktop and editing this material using respectively the software Mediasite or Quicktime in combination with iMovie. In order to complete this tutorial using the screen recording and editing software Mediasite it is required that you have installed and have familiarized yourself with this software prior to beginning this tutorial. Mediasite is offered by most universities in the Netherlands. At Utrecht University you can access Mediasite with your student/employee credentials via this link . In order to make sure that you can run Mediasite so as to be able to use it for this exercise you should follow the steps outlined on the UU Mediasite website (“Account Aanvragen”, “Desktop Recorder Registreren” and “Inloggen Mymediasite”). Alternately, if you are working on a Mac, you may use the Quicktime Screen Recording (in Dutch “Schermopname”) function instead and subsequently edit it in a simple video editor such as iMovie.
  • Scholarly background : In order to fully understand the underlying historiographical and methodological assumptions of this tutorial it is strongly advised to read Alan McKee’s article “YouTube versus National Film Archive: Which Is the More Useful Resource for Historians of Australian Television?” (2011) beforehand. The article can be consulted via this link. Moreover, in order to grasp the implications of the desktop documentary format it is recommended to watch Kevin B. Lee’s Transformers: The Premake (2014). Please note that Kevin B. Lee’s work is the result of years of experience with professional video editing, filmmaking and engagement with critical theory and thinking. You will not be expected to be able to make as advanced a desktop documentary based on this tutorial, but instead to create shorter desktop documentary clips that you may use for illustration in your assignments or research.
  • Media Suite familiarity : It is a prerequisite for completing this tutorial that you know how to log in to the Media Suite and how to create a user project. These steps are explained in the tutorial “Logging in, Workspace and Creating a User Project” which can be accessed here .

Steps

  • The following steps introduce you to creating desktop documentary clips that cover different phases of your research : searching, bookmarking/saving and commenting/annotating. The steps introduce you to doing this in both Mediasite and in Quicktime in combination with iMovie for editing. There is no set maximum amount for the time you may record, this depends on the scope of your assignment work and/or research. However, if you use Mediasite it is important to keep in mind that you cannot combine and edit multiple recordings as in more advanced video editing programs. You can only shorten the content of one recording in linear order (meaning you cannot break a recording down into smaller parts and rearrange them) and add text slides. If you are creating desktop documentary clips in combination with an assignment you may also have to keep in mind that you will need to narrow down the length of your material to fit the length stipulated in the assignment description. To be able to approach the recording process systematically, it is advised to make separate recordings of the different research phases on different platforms . For the sake of illustration this tutorial breaks down the recording process into the three above-mentioned research phases - searching, bookmarking/saving and commenting/annotating - while encouraging you to reflect on relevant aspects you may subsequently observe in your recordings.

1. Recording your desktop in Mediasite and Quicktime

a. Screen recording using Mediasite

Screen recording using Mediasite

Before making your video clips you need to know how to record your desktop. If you use Mediasite you need to follow the steps outlined below to start and save a screen recording:

  • Log in into Mediasite using your university login credentials via this link .
  • Click the button “Add Media” in the upper right part of the screen.
  • Click on the “I want to record my desktop now”-icon.
  • In the pop-up window that opens, give your recording a name and add a description. You may choose to name your first recording “Media Suite search results Van Kooten & De Bie”. Subsequently click “Create and Launch”.
  • The software will now launch from your computer and give you the option of recording “Screencast + Video” or “Screencast + Audio”. Either option is fine, but the latter seems the most suited for the purposes of this exercise (see the screen grab of the Mediasite interface after have selection the “Screencast + Audio” option).
  • Select the area of the screen you wish to record (“Desktop”, “Window” or “Region”). NB For privacy reasons you should choose the “Region” option. Using this option you may leave out your browser toolbar menu or other open tabs potentially containing personal information. You are now recording and will be able to save your recording when pressing finish.

b. Screen recording using Quicktime

Screen recording using Quicktime

Before making your video clips you need to know how to record your desktop. If you use Quicktime you need to follow the steps outlined below to start and save a screen recording:

  • To start a screen recording in Quicktime you need to open the drop-down menu “File” - in Dutch “Archief” - and choose “New Screen Recording” from the drop-down menu - in Dutch “Nieuwe schermopname”. For an example see the screen grab above.
  • Subsequently click the red record button. You will be asked to choose a selection of the screen you wish to record or simply choose to record the full screen. NB For privacy reasons you should choose a selection of the screen. Using this option you may leave out your browser toolbar menu or other open tabs potentially containing personal information. Once you have done this, you are recording and will be able to save the recording when stopping Quicktime.

2. Recording your searches in the Media Suite and on YouTube

Recording your searches in the Media Suite and on YouTube

  • In order to record your search process in the Media Suite you first need to log in to the Media Suite, create and set an active user project, choose the Media Suite “Search” tool and set the collection to Television Collection. Should you need an introduction or reminder on how to take these steps, you may consult the tutorial “Searching and Bookmarking for Television History” which may be accessed via this link .
  • Start a screen recording in either Mediasite or Quicktime
  • You now need to start searching for Van Kooten and De Bie materials in the Television Collection (see an example of the collection overview in the screen grab above). You can choose and try out your own search terms to see what works best. To get started you may try search on the names of Van Kooten and De Bie, for instance by searching “Kooten Bie”, or on the names of the shows they made (for instance Hadimassa, Simplisties Verbond and Koot en Bie). Make sure to document different searches and observe differences in the types of results you get.
  • Look at the material you have recorded and take a moment to reflect and write down observations : how many results do different searches give? What is the length of the clips available? What types of data can you use to filter the results? Which categories do the results fall into (with regard to the Media Suite, consider the overview on your left hand side and for YouTube the info box under the video among others)?
  • Once you have made a recording of your searches in the Media Suite, you should make a new recording, repeating the same steps, but this time using Youtube to search materials. For the purpose of this exercise, you should make sure to have an account on YouTube that you may log in to and save items to.

3. Recording bookmarking/saving of content in the Media Suite and on YouTube

a. Recording bookmarking of content in the Media Suite

Recording bookmarking/saving of content in the Media Suite and on YouTube

After recording your searches in the Media Suite and on YouTube, you should record and compare the different bookmarking and saving options offered by the two platforms. The aim is that you understand how the design of the different platforms allow you to save and retrieve items at a later point and invite different viewing and analysis modalities.

First make a recording of the bookmarking functionality in the Media Suite (Should you need an introduction or reminder on how to take these steps, you may consult the tutorial “Searching and Bookmarking for Television History” which can be accessed via this link , see also an example of bookmarking in the screenshot above). In order to do so, you should follow the steps outlined below:

  • Start a new screen recording in Mediasite or Quicktime
  • Choose items that you have found in your search process that you would like to keep so as to be able to retrieve and analyze them at a later stage. These items should ideally highlight a certain aspect of Van Kooten & De Bie’s production or relate to a specific program
  • Make sure to save multiple items, at least between five-ten items so you get a good sense of how this feature works

Take a moment to reflect and write down observations : which steps do you need to complete in order to bookmark an item, what does the interface request from you, what information should you enter? How may you organize bookmarked items? How may you access items at a later stage once they have been bookmarked?

b. Recording saving of content on YouTube

Recording saving of content on YouTube

After having recorded the bookmarking of items in the Media Suite, you should record the saving options on YouTube so as to be able to compare these functions of the platform at a later stage.

In order to do so, you should follow the steps outlined below:

  • Start a new screen recording in Mediasite or Quicktime
  • Choose items that you have found in your search process that you would like to keep so as to be able to retrieve and analyze them at a later stage. These items should ideally highlight a certain aspect of Van Kooten & De Bie’s production or relate to a specific program
  • Make sure to save multiple items, at least between five-ten items so you get a good sense of how this feature works

Take a moment to reflect and write down observations : which steps do you need to complete in order to save an item, what does the interface request from you, what information should you enter? How may you organize saved items? How may you access items at a later stage once they have been saved?

4. Recording annotation/comment function in the Media Suite and on YouTube

a. Recording annotation function in the Media Suite

Recording annotation function in the Media Suite

After having recorded the bookmarking of items in the Media Suite and on YouTube, you now need to record the annotation and comment functionalities of these two platforms so as to be able to compare them, beginning with the Media Suite.

In order to do so, you should follow the steps outlined below:

  • Start a new screen recording in Mediasite or Quicktime
  • Choose one of your bookmarked items
  • Annotate the item on item level in the resource viewer. You can annotate the item in the “Resources” area of the “My Annotations” section on the right-hand side (see screen grab above). Add relevant information or an observation in the annotation that highlights an important aspect of the clip
  • Annotate a few more clips to get a sense of how this functionality works

Take a moment to reflect and write down observations : What types of data does the “My Annotations” section allow you to add? In what ways are archival and/or production metadata included in this section and how may you add to it? Who has created the data? How may you label and organize your annotations? Who may access your annotations?

b. Recording comment function on YouTube

Recording comment function on YouTube

After having recorded the annotation of items in the Media Suite, you now need to record the comment functionality on YouTube.

In order to do so, you should follow the steps outlined below:

  • Start a new screen recording in Mediasite or Quicktime
  • Choose one of your saved items
  • Add a comment to the item (see screen grab above, you may delete the comments later should you not wish to let them remain on YouTube after having completed this tutorial). Highlight relevant information or an observation in the comment that points to an important aspect of the clip
  • Add a few more comments to get a sense of how this functionality works

Take a moment to reflect and write down observations : What types of comments does YouTube’s comment section allow you to add? In what ways are archival and/or production metadata included or reflected on in this section and how may you add to it? Who has created the data? How may you label and organize your comments? Who may access your comments?

5. Reflecting on screen recordings

You have now created screen recordings of every step of the three phases of the research process discussed in this tutorial: searching, bookmarking/saving and commenting/annotating

Before proceeding to editing the clips you should rewatch the material that you have recorded and go through the reflection notes you created in each of the steps above. Make sure that you identify one or more important differences between the Media Suite and YouTube. Depending on your assignment and type of research you may want to observe differences for all of the steps or for only one or two of them. The differences you identify will form the basis for making your short desktop documentary clips in the following step.

6. Editing desktop documentary clips in Mediasite and iMovie

Having now created recordings of different steps of your research and reflective notes you are now ready to make short desktop documentary clips in Mediasite and or iMovie based on your material.

This step discusses how to do this in both Mediasite and iMovie:

a. Editing desktop documentary clips in Mediasite

Editing desktop documentary clips in Mediasite

  • Before completing this step, make sure that you have familiarized yourself with editing in Mediasite. The editing instructions for Mediasite (in Dutch) can be found via this link (see in particular section 3 “De opname verwerken”, the screen grab above shows an example from this section of the manual).
  • Once you are familiar with editing in Mediasite, you should create a text slide that you can import into Mediasite. The text slide should explain what your clip shows and what you highlight in it. The content of the slide may be very simple and descriptive, for example something in the vein of “Searching for Koot en Bie in the Media Suite”. The slide text may also be more elaborate and explain the different steps taken shown in the video, for instance something in the vein of: “The following clip shows our searches for different shows created by Van Kooten en De Bie, first we searched for Hadimassa, then for Simplisties Verbond”)
  • You may add several text slides to the same recording so as to break it down into smaller pieces and explain your steps one by one
  • Once you have added the text to your video, you have a clip that you may embed and use in your assignment/research

b. Editing desktop documentary clips in iMovie

  • Before completing this step, make sure that you have familiarized yourself with editing in iMovie. The editing instructions for iMovie (in Dutch) can be found via this link (see in particular section 3 “Video bewerken in iMovie”.
  • Once you are familiar with editing in iMovie, you should create a text slide that you can import into iMovie. The text slide should explain what your clip shows and what you highlight in it. The content of the slide may be very simple and descriptive, for example something in the vein of “Searching for Koot en Bie in the Media Suite”. The slide text may also be more elaborate and explain the different steps taken shown in the video, for instance something in the vein of: “The following clip shows our searches for different shows created by Van Kooten en De Bie, first we searched for Hadimassa, then for Simplisties Verbond”)
  • You may add several text slides to the same recording so as to break it down into smaller pieces and explain your steps one by one
  • Once you have added the text to your video, you have a clip that you may embed and use in your assignment/research