When to choose video over audio? Or vice-versa

There’s an obvious difference between audio and video – the visual. And the silent film The Artist is a prime example of the power of a strong story and visual where no audio is needed, although it’s unusual to find online video without some kind of audio to support it.

But it it as simple as asking yourself ‘does this story have a visual element?’ and if the answer is yes, choosing video, and if the answer is no, choosing audio? There’s probably a bit more to it than that.

The Bisexuality ReportEarlier this month The Bisexuality Report was launched to improve UK policy and practice for bisexual people as part of the equalities agenda and highlights trends such as bisexual people are more likely to suffer mental health problems than other sexual groups, and are often the subject of negative stereotypes.

I spoke to the authors of the report and wanted to capture something more dynamic than the written word to encapsulate what the report’s about. I tried two things… firstly, a short video with the lead author of the report, Meg Barker, a psychology lecturer. It’s a really short video featuring Meg in her office, no bells and whistles but it does the job. We had two goes at recording but Meg was fluent, did it in a single take and only the start and end of the video needed trimming.

I then recorded a podcast with Meg Barker and her colleague Rebecca Jones in which the two of them discuss the report’s findings in a more conversational way. For me, this works much better, not only because there’s no visual element to distract from the narrative, which is the most important part, but because it involves two people, it’s a conversation, has more pace and the change in voice gives the listener a bit of variety. It’s also been picked up by other organisations, such as BiMedia.org.

This did need some more editing, one section of the report edited out and a new section put in it’s place and I did have to play around with the sound levels a bit to make it clearer. When recording the second section I must have sat closer to Meg and Rebecca than when I recorded the first section and so it was considerably louder. I tweaked the audio levels using Final Cut Express, trimmed the start and finish of the podcast and added a new section in the middle.

Both the video and the audio were recorded on a Kodak Zi8 without an additional microphone. I have a small tripod for this camera but didn’t use it – this would have improved the ‘shaky hand syndrome’ I get in the video (it’s harder than you think to hold a small camera steady for a couple of minutes) and placing the camera on the desk instead of holding would have created more consistent sound in the podcast.

What do you think?

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One thought on “When to choose video over audio? Or vice-versa

  1. […] not work so well and you don’t want to lose your audience to sea sickness. So maybe a podcast? This example is two people, who’ve produced a report on bisexuality, talking about it. There’s no visual […]


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