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AES HISTORICAL COMMITTEE

Recording Guidelines for Oral History



ARRANGING INTERVIEWS

Arranging interviews has been relatively simple. We've used two methods, and they have both been successful. When at a convention we approach people who are on the list, or who we feel should be on the list, and ask them if they will grant us an interview. The second method, which has also been used successfully, is to call a person that you feel should be interviewed, give them an idea of what you are looking for, and arrange a convenient time and place to conduct the interview. If these methods are not compatible with practices in other parts of the world, modifications should be made to satisfy the requirements for acceptable practices in that local area.

PREPARATION

It is important for the interviewer to have as much background relating to the interviewee as possible. A good place to start is AES Journals or other publications where that person may have been interviewed or published. It is always advisable to contact a coworker or someone who has known the person for some time. The more you can learn ahead of time, the better the chances of the interview being interesting. If you think the interview is important, and don't have as much background as you would like, you will probably be able to sit down with the person and make a few notes which will also produce a very acceptable interview.

When an interview is planned at the interviewee's office or home, give the interviewee enough lead time to pull together pictures, documents, articles, pieces of equipment or other aids that might help them in the interview. A lengthy preparation will not add to the final interview. Rather it is best to go on their first thoughts. If the interview is being conducted at a convention or other central location this preparation may not be feasible.

RECORDING EQUIPMENT

We will supply you with a Sony Digital Hi-8 NTSC Camcorder, a small mic-level mixer, and two cardioid clip-on microphones, one each for the interviewer and the interviewee. To round out the kit you will need a camera tripod, a 150 watt halogen lamp, a stand for the lamp, and a 25 ft extension cord. If you have trouble obtaining this equipment, please give us a call and we will work something out.

RECORDING MEDIA

The Camcorder requires Hi-8 MP video tape (marked 120), which yields 60 minutes of digital recording.

PICKING THE INTERVIEW SURROUNDINGS AND EQUIPMENT SETUP

Interviews are recorded on a video Camcorder. In-person audio-only recorded interviews may also be conducted if video recording is not practical.

When you are in the person's home or office, find a space that is quiet, has at least one 117 volt, 15 ampere outlet (or comparable, for interviews outside of the US), and is not terribly reverberant. Two comfortable chairs are needed: High back chairs work well, but we do not recommend swivel chairs, because they can be distracting. A neutral background is desirable. A small table with a glass of water placed near the interviewee will come in handy.

You should listen to see if there are unwanted noise generators which will interrupt the interview: Turn off the telephone. Stop the cuckoo clock, and put the dog out.

EQUIPMENT SETUP

The camera tripod should be adjusted so that the camera will be at the interviewee's eye level and 6 to 8 ft. (1,8 to 2,4 m ) from the subject. Place the interviewer's chair just to the right of the camera. If you don't have a camera operator your chair will have to go to camera left. The light stand should be just to the right and slightly forward of the camera, and adjusted so that the lamp is approximately 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 mm) above the interviewee's head and tipped downward to give good overall light. If the interviewee wears glasses be careful to position the lamp so that you do not get reflections from the glasses into the camera.

It is helpful to have a small table near the interviewer to provide an area for notes and for the mixer. The mixer has two inputs for the lapel microphones. Connect the interviewee's microphone to the left input and place it temporarily over the arm of the interviewee's chair. Connect the interviewer's microphone to the right input. Connect the mixer's mic level outputs to the camera's external mic input. Connect a pair of headphones to the camera's headphone output.

We strongly recommend that you label the video tape BEFORE the interview and close the Red safety slide immediately after removing the tape from the camera!

SETTING AUDIO LEVELS

The camera has no level controls, so the controls on the mixer should be set so that the microphones' outputs do not overload the camera input. Levels should be set so that the camera's limiter does not come into play. Final adjustment must be made when the interviewee's microphone is in position (centered approximately 6 inches below his chin) (150 mm), and the interviewer's is placed in a similar manner.

To set the proper levels, increase the level of each microphone while speaking at a normal level. Stop talking and listen carefully to hear if the background noise increases. If there is no significant change in background noise the level is set correctly.

Make a short test recording and play it back to check for proper picture and sound level.

The camera should be set to allow a small amount of headroom, and framed so that the subject is slightly camera left. The bottom of the frame should be just above the elbows, allowing enough room for some hand movements. The frame can be adjusted during the interview to accommodate.

(Note: It is best if the interviewee is not sitting in his chair through the entire setup but is asked to be seated when you are ready to begin.)

THE INTERVIEW

An effort should be made to conduct the interview in English even if the interviewee's English is not perfect. It is noted that the widest distribution of the content of interviews would be achieved with the use of English, but AESHC policy supports the need for interviews in native languages when the interviewee is unable to express his/her thoughts in English. In these instances, interviews should be conducted in the language of the interviewee and a translation secured.

Begin by placing the release form (Appendix A) on the back of the interviewee's chair and tightly framing it so it can be easily read. Read the release sheet so there is an oral slate on the video recorder. Stop the recordings, remove the release and ask the interviewee to be seated. Attach his microphone, begin recording the video, set recording levels, slate the recordings by announcing where you are, the date, the time, and the interviewee's name.

The first question should go something like this: "Thank you for granting us this interview. Please tell us where and when you were born and how audio entered your life."

It is important to weave in questions like:

· How did your contributions aid the performer?

· Please tell us about other people who helped you make your product or service better.

· How has the consumer benefitted by your involvement in audio?

· What role has the Audio Engineering Society played in your work?

All of the above are only suggestions and may not be needed if the interviewee covers a number of topics which will make for an interesting interview.

If the interviewee does not give a good time reference, it is important to ask for clarification, being careful not to interrupt the interviewee's thoughts.

Don't correct the interviewee even if you are quite sure that they have made a misstatement. The interview is a story told by the interviewee, it is not a technical paper. You also should stay away from family questions unless the interviewee brings them up, in which case, go for it. If the interviewee asks for your help and you know the answer it's ok to jump in. Good interviewers say as little as possible while keeping the interview on track and interesting.

From the setup, I hope I made it clear that the interviewer is not on camera.

We have not set time requirements, but to date all but one of our interviews have been 2 hours or less. This seems to be a comfortable time frame and makes for a good program.

It is important to let the interviewee know that you are willing to stop and take a break at any time. If the break lasts for a couple of minutes, it is advisable to play back a portion of the end of the recording so that the interviewee will know where to pick up.

A thank you line at the end of the recording is important.

Don't forget to have the interviewee look over and sign the release form, (see Appendix A). Without his consent we can not use the interview

ARCHIVING

Send all original recordings and release forms to the Oral History Project c/o Irv Joel 528 River Road, Teaneck, NJ, 07666 USA. We will transfer the digital video recording to a backup digital video recording. We have an editing system which is used for post production.

We enter all recordings into a data base describing when, where, who and many other important pieces of information. All elements are now kept and cataloged in a secure area. We expect that there will be space for this archive at AES Headquarters after the remodeling of HQ has been completed.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

All the interviews are the sole property of the AES, and may be used in any form that the Society feels is appropriate.

There are proposals before the Historical Committee to make the transcripts available on the AES Historical Committee's Web site, in both text and audio formats. More committee discussion on this subject will yield broader output capabilities. We intend to publish a short abstract of each interview on our Web site.



Appendix A)

AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY HISTORICAL COMMITTEE

ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW RELEASE FORM



"I, ___________________________________________________

Street ________________________________________________

City ___________________________________________________

State(Region) _________________ Postal Code(zip) _____________

Country_________________________

Phone _____________________________________

E-mail(capitals)______________________________

have agreed to be interviewed as part of the Oral History Project of the Audio Engineering Society. I grant the Society full rights of ownership to any interviews of me and agree that the Society may publish any interviews in print in its Journal or otherwise, or electronically on its web site on the Internet."

Signed__________________________________

Date__________________

Interviewers Name _____________________________
 
 

Revised Irv Joel, 2003-03-01

 

AES HISTORICAL COMMITTEE

Recording Guidelines for Oral History



ARRANGING INTERVIEWS

Arranging interviews has been relatively simple. We've used two methods, and they have both been successful. When at a convention we approach people who are on the list, or who we feel should be on the list, and ask them if they will grant us an interview. The second method, which has also been used successfully, is to call a person that you feel should be interviewed, give them an idea of what you are looking for, and arrange a convenient time and place to conduct the interview. If these methods are not compatible with practices in other parts of the world, modifications should be made to satisfy the requirements for acceptable practices in that local area.

PREPARATION

It is important for the interviewer to have as much background relating to the interviewee as possible. A good place to start is AES Journals or other publications where that person may have been interviewed or published. It is always advisable to contact a coworker or someone who has known the person for some time. The more you can learn ahead of time, the better the chances of the interview being interesting. If you think the interview is important, and don't have as much background as you would like, you will probably be able to sit down with the person and make a few notes which will also produce a very acceptable interview.

When an interview is planned at the interviewee's office or home, give the interviewee enough lead time to pull together pictures, documents, articles, pieces of equipment or other aids that might help them in the interview. A lengthy preparation will not add to the final interview. Rather it is best to go on their first thoughts. If the interview is being conducted at a convention or other central location this preparation may not be feasible.

RECORDING EQUIPMENT

We will supply you with a Sony Digital Hi-8 NTSC Camcorder, a small mic-level mixer, and two cardioid clip-on microphones, one each for the interviewer and the interviewee. To round out the kit you will need a camera tripod, a 150 watt halogen lamp, a stand for the lamp, and a 25 ft extension cord. If you have trouble obtaining this equipment, please give us a call and we will work something out.

RECORDING MEDIA

The Camcorder requires Hi-8 MP video tape (marked 120), which yields 60 minutes of digital recording.

PICKING THE INTERVIEW SURROUNDINGS AND EQUIPMENT SETUP

Interviews are recorded on a video Camcorder. In-person audio-only recorded interviews may also be conducted if video recording is not practical.

When you are in the person's home or office, find a space that is quiet, has at least one 117 volt, 15 ampere outlet (or comparable, for interviews outside of the US), and is not terribly reverberant. Two comfortable chairs are needed: High back chairs work well, but we do not recommend swivel chairs, because they can be distracting. A neutral background is desirable. A small table with a glass of water placed near the interviewee will come in handy.

You should listen to see if there are unwanted noise generators which will interrupt the interview: Turn off the telephone. Stop the cuckoo clock, and put the dog out.

EQUIPMENT SETUP

The camera tripod should be adjusted so that the camera will be at the interviewee's eye level and 6 to 8 ft. (1,8 to 2,4 m ) from the subject. Place the interviewer's chair just to the right of the camera. If you don't have a camera operator your chair will have to go to camera left. The light stand should be just to the right and slightly forward of the camera, and adjusted so that the lamp is approximately 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 mm) above the interviewee's head and tipped downward to give good overall light. If the interviewee wears glasses be careful to position the lamp so that you do not get reflections from the glasses into the camera.

It is helpful to have a small table near the interviewer to provide an area for notes and for the mixer. The mixer has two inputs for the lapel microphones. Connect the interviewee's microphone to the left input and place it temporarily over the arm of the interviewee's chair. Connect the interviewer's microphone to the right input. Connect the mixer's mic level outputs to the camera's external mic input. Connect a pair of headphones to the camera's headphone output.

We strongly recommend that you label the video tape BEFORE the interview and close the Red safety slide immediately after removing the tape from the camera!

SETTING AUDIO LEVELS

The camera has no level controls, so the controls on the mixer should be set so that the microphones' outputs do not overload the camera input. Levels should be set so that the camera's limiter does not come into play. Final adjustment must be made when the interviewee's microphone is in position (centered approximately 6 inches below his chin) (150 mm), and the interviewer's is placed in a similar manner.

To set the proper levels, increase the level of each microphone while speaking at a normal level. Stop talking and listen carefully to hear if the background noise increases. If there is no significant change in background noise the level is set correctly.

Make a short test recording and play it back to check for proper picture and sound level.

The camera should be set to allow a small amount of headroom, and framed so that the subject is slightly camera left. The bottom of the frame should be just above the elbows, allowing enough room for some hand movements. The frame can be adjusted during the interview to accommodate.

(Note: It is best if the interviewee is not sitting in his chair through the entire setup but is asked to be seated when you are ready to begin.)

THE INTERVIEW

An effort should be made to conduct the interview in English even if the interviewee's English is not perfect. It is noted that the widest distribution of the content of interviews would be achieved with the use of English, but AESHC policy supports the need for interviews in native languages when the interviewee is unable to express his/her thoughts in English. In these instances, interviews should be conducted in the language of the interviewee and a translation secured.

Begin by placing the release form (Appendix A) on the back of the interviewee's chair and tightly framing it so it can be easily read. Read the release sheet so there is an oral slate on the video recorder. Stop the recordings, remove the release and ask the interviewee to be seated. Attach his microphone, begin recording the video, set recording levels, slate the recordings by announcing where you are, the date, the time, and the interviewee's name.

The first question should go something like this: "Thank you for granting us this interview. Please tell us where and when you were born and how audio entered your life."

It is important to weave in questions like:

· How did your contributions aid the performer?

· Please tell us about other people who helped you make your product or service better.

· How has the consumer benefitted by your involvement in audio?

· What role has the Audio Engineering Society played in your work?

All of the above are only suggestions and may not be needed if the interviewee covers a number of topics which will make for an interesting interview.

If the interviewee does not give a good time reference, it is important to ask for clarification, being careful not to interrupt the interviewee's thoughts.

Don't correct the interviewee even if you are quite sure that they have made a misstatement. The interview is a story told by the interviewee, it is not a technical paper. You also should stay away from family questions unless the interviewee brings them up, in which case, go for it. If the interviewee asks for your help and you know the answer it's ok to jump in. Good interviewers say as little as possible while keeping the interview on track and interesting.

From the setup, I hope I made it clear that the interviewer is not on camera.

We have not set time requirements, but to date all but one of our interviews have been 2 hours or less. This seems to be a comfortable time frame and makes for a good program.

It is important to let the interviewee know that you are willing to stop and take a break at any time. If the break lasts for a couple of minutes, it is advisable to play back a portion of the end of the recording so that the interviewee will know where to pick up.

A thank you line at the end of the recording is important.

Don't forget to have the interviewee look over and sign the release form, (see Appendix A). Without his consent we can not use the interview

ARCHIVING

Send all original recordings and release forms to the Oral History Project c/o Irv Joel 528 River Road, Teaneck, NJ, 07666 USA. We will transfer the digital video recording to a backup digital video recording. We have an editing system which is used for post production.

We enter all recordings into a data base describing when, where, who and many other important pieces of information. All elements are now kept and cataloged in a secure area. We expect that there will be space for this archive at AES Headquarters after the remodeling of HQ has been completed.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

All the interviews are the sole property of the AES, and may be used in any form that the Society feels is appropriate.

There are proposals before the Historical Committee to make the transcripts available on the AES Historical Committee's Web site, in both text and audio formats. More committee discussion on this subject will yield broader output capabilities. We intend to publish a short abstract of each interview on our Web site.



Appendix A)

AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY HISTORICAL COMMITTEE

ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW RELEASE FORM



"I, ___________________________________________________

Street ________________________________________________

City ___________________________________________________

State(Region) _________________ Postal Code(zip) _____________

Country_________________________

Phone _____________________________________

E-mail(capitals)______________________________

have agreed to be interviewed as part of the Oral History Project of the Audio Engineering Society. I grant the Society full rights of ownership to any interviews of me and agree that the Society may publish any interviews in print in its Journal or otherwise, or electronically on its web site on the Internet."

Signed__________________________________

Date__________________

Interviewers Name _____________________________
 
 

Revised Irv Joel, 2003-03-01

 
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AES - Audio Engineering Society